If you have not gone through the previous articles on cholesterol, then I would like you to spare a few minutes to read them first to have a better understanding. “All about cholesterol” and “Effects of High cholesterol on the human body”.
Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance present in human blood. It’s produced naturally in the liver. Every human being no matter of what age or gender, has cholesterol. The human body needs it to stay healthy and it is vital for the formation and normal functioning of the cell membrane of every cell in our body. Some of this cholesterol comes from the food we eat.
- 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.
1. Say No To Trans-Fats
Most trans fat is formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature.
Trans fat is so unhealthy that the Food and Drug Administration has recently prohibited food manufacturers from adding the major source of artificial trans fat to foods and beverages.
Trans fats imposes a significant risk on your ‘Heart Health’. Avoid consuming food items that contains trans fat. It also increases the levels of LDL or the bad cholesterol and lower the levels of HDL which is a good cholesterol. These changes makes you more prone to Heart disease and vascular disease.
Check The Labels
Check the nutrient list or the ingredient list label for the. If it says the food item has “0 g trans fat,” that doesn’t necessarily mean it has no trans fats. This is because the food manufacturers are allowed to round down the figures when the amount of trans fat per serving is less than 0.5 grams. This means the food item contains trans fats even though their labels say “0 grams of trans fat per serving.” It could have up to half a gram of trans fats per serving.
Look further for the presence of “partially hydrogenated oils”, these are also Trans fats. If present just avoid it.
Food Rich In Trans Fats
- Frozen pizza
- Baked goods, such as cakes, cookies and pies
- Stick margarine
- Microwave popcorn
- Fried foods, including french fries, doughnuts and fried chicken
- Refrigerated dough, such as biscuits and rolls
- Artificial coffee creamer
Any food items with label showing the presence of ‘Trans-fats’ or ‘Partially Hydrogenated Oils’.
2. Monounsaturated Fats Should Be Preferred
Monounsaturated fat is a type of dietary fat which is one of the healthy fats, along with polyunsaturated fat. The unique feature of monounsaturated fats are, they are liquid at room temperature, but start to harden when chilled.
Monounsaturated fats are good for your health in several ways:
- They can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol level. Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that can cause clogged, or blocked, arteries (blood vessels). Keeping your LDL level low reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Monounsaturated fats help to maintain structural and functional integrity of cells of your body.
Foods and oils rich in monounsaturated fats are:
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Sesame oil
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil (high oleic)
- Peanut oil and Peanut butter
Replace unhealthy fats with healthy fats in your diet. Here are some ideas:
- Eat nuts instead of cookies for a snack. Just be sure to keep your portion small, as nuts are high in calories.
- Add avocado to salads and sandwiches.
- Replace butter and solid fats with olive or canola oil.
MUFA or Monounsaturated fatty acids clearly have health benefits as they lower LDL levels and promote HDL levels which ultimately lower the cardiovascular event risk. They also limits reduced the oxidation of fats and cholesterol that contributes to clogged arteries.
3. Omega-3 “The Golden Arrow In Your Quiver”
Omega-3 fatty acid is that golden arrow in your quiver that you can’t afford to miss using if you are serious about your diet and health.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Lowering Triglyceride Levels
- Fetal Neurological Development
Always prefer getting omega-3 from a dietary source rather than taking supplements of it. If you are a non-vegetarian try to eat roasted oily fish instead of fried as they are a rich source of DHA and EPA. Try eating fish twice a week.
For Vegetarian good source of ALA are:
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
- Flaxseed and flaxseed oil
These are good healthy eats but always eat in moderation.
Thinking about Omega-3 Supplements?
Always consult your primary doctor or physician before starting any health or nutritional supplement.
Commonly encountered side effects of Omega-3 supplements includes:
- Increased bleeding risk if you already on any sort of blood thinners like apixaban (Eliquis), clopidogrel (Plavix), prasugrel (Effient), ticagrelor (brilinta), warfarin etc.
All PUFA’s or Polyunsaturated fatty acids are health beneficial but Omega-3 fatty acids have a slightly upper hand among these.
4. Incorporate Fibres In Diet
You probably have heard about the friendly bacteria living inside your gut. These are called “Probiotics”. They also helps your body to get rid of harmful fats and in return they need fibres from your diet as their diet.
According to one study taking 3 grams of soluble fiber supplements daily for 12 weeks decreased LDL by 18%. Consuming soluble fibre in your diet also helps in preventing constipation.
Here are few important sources of soluble fibres:
- Whole Grains
- Salads and Green Leafy Vegetables
Consuming soluble fibres not only improves digestion and prevent constipation but also helps your body get rid of harmful fats.
5. Exercise “Highly Effective & Inexpensive Tool”
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.
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.
Whenever you sweat while exerting you burn calories. The intense the workout, the more significant will be the potential health benefits.