Cholesterol is a fatty, wax like substance present in human blood. It’s produced naturally in the liver.Human body need it to stay healthy and it is vital for the formation and normal functioning of cell membrane of every cell in our body.
- LDL or The “Bad Cholesterol” : Read the previous article to know why it’s called ‘BAD’. Ideally your ldl cholesterol level should be below 100 mg/dl.
- HDL or The “Good Cholesterol” : Read the previous article to know why it’s called ‘GOOD’. Ideally your hdl cholesterol level should be 60 mg/dl or higher.
- Triglycerides: This is another type of fat found in your blood. When you eat, your body converts those extra calories which you don’t need at that moment into triglycerides. These triglycerides are stored in your fat cells to be used later when required.
1. Eat Healthy
The choice what we make while eating is what we ultimately reap from our body. Imagine you have two cars, the first car you refuel with extra octane fuel and the second one you refuel with ordinary fuel. I believe most of you will know which car will give you the better mileage. Same concept goes with your body also, eat healthy and stay fit.
The American Heart Association recommends, a diet should be low in salt, sugar, saturated fats, trans fats, and red meat. And should be rich in wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and lean proteins such as soy, poultry, and fish.
Choose foodstuff rich in healthy fats like PUFA, MUFA and Omega 3 fatty acids as they helps in lowering LDL and increasing HDL levels.
Read in detail about PUFA, MUFA and Omega 3
2. Make Daily Exercise A Habit
Exercise can help lower triglyceride levels and raise HDL (good cholesterol) levels. Combining exercise with weight loss and dietary changes decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
As I have described earlier that there are three main cholesterol : Triglycerides, HDL and LDL.
Proper exercise can have significant effect on triglycerides by lowering them, and on HDL, the good cholesterol, by increasing it.
However exercise does not have much impact on LDL cholesterol unless combined with dietary changes and weight loss regime.
NOTE: Do not engage in any activity if you already have symptoms like chest pain, excessive shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness. Stop immediately if you experience any of these symptoms while exercising.
How to Start On a Cholesterol Lowering Exercise Schedule? Most Common Query
The golden rule is to “Start Low and Go Slow”. AHA and American college of sports medicine recommends that people should exercise most days of the week or atleast 5 days a week. Recommendation is for aerobic exercises. Examples of aerobic exercises includes simple brisk morning walks ( a simple yet effective and no investment exercise option), dancing, cycling, swimming, treadmill etc.
- If you are new to an exercise program, start with a short amount of time, and slowly increase. You could start out with 15 to 20 minutes, or in some cases even less.
- Gradually increase over a period of time, so that exercise lasts over at-least 30 mins.
- The ultimate aim is to achieve a total of 200 minutes of exercise a week. In simple terms it should be 40 mins of moderate exercise for 5 days a week. Remember not to forget 5 minutes of warm-up and cool down, this should be in addition to 30 minutes of moderate exercise.
Now, I know you must be wandering what is moderate exercise or how you know you are exercising adequately or not. A moderately intense exercise should make you feel breathless but still you can have a conversation without being to breathless.
3. Say ‘NO’ to Smoking
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 7 million deaths per year. If the pattern of smoking all over the globe doesn’t change, more than 8 million people a year will die from diseases related to tobacco use by 2030.
Smoking has a significant negative impact on HDL levels inside your body making it more vulnerable for heart and other vascular diseases.
If you are reading till this point and if you smoke then, believe me today’s the best day to ‘QUIT SMOKING’. It’s now or never thing.
4. Drink In Moderation
If you don’t drink already, better don’t start. Most people often find it hard to regulate their intake amount. Some people should not drink at all, like pregnant women or couples who are trying to conceive, teenagers and people with certain health conditions.
Science behind alcohol intake and its effects on the body.
Drinking too much alcohol can raise the levels of some fats in the blood known as triglycerides. A high triglyceride level along with high LDL (bad) cholesterol or low HDL (good) cholesterol has been associated with plaque buildup in the inner lining of blood vessel wall specially arteries. This can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Having five or more drinks in two hours for men or four or more drinks for women is called Binge drinking and this may increase the risk for atrial fibrillation, an irregular or quivering heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke and even heart failure.
Drinking alcohol is also a source of extra calories which can lead to obesity and risk of developing diabetes.
Few studies have shown that drinking alcohol in moderate amount do lower the chances of developing heart disease than non-drinkers. But people mostly find it hard to control their intake once they get used to drinking. This can lead to significant increase in risk of developing cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, stroke etc.
Not all forms of cholesterol are bad. HDL is a good cholesterol which gives you protection from cardiac and other vascular diseases. The recommended levels of HDL cholesterol should be 60 mg/dl or higher.
Thanks For Reading!!!
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