May 18: HEALTH MATTERS
- Posted by CERC India
- Posted in may-18
How to lower cholesterol without drugs
A few lifestyle changes could work wonders
Cholesterol in the body is one of the biggest contributors to heart disease and stroke. While cholesterol reducing drugs called statins are commonly prescribed, they have side effects like muscle pain, memory loss and elevated liver enzymes. Lifestyle changes, especially in diet, can bring down cholesterol levels naturally.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat that travels through the bloodstream in particles called lipoproteins. There are two types of cholesterol. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are the bad cholesterol because they can lead to a build-up of plaque in arteries. High-density lipoproteins (HDL) are the good cholesterol because they pick up the LDL clogging your arteries and take it to the liver where it is processed and eventually excreted.
The ideal readings are:
â€¢ Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dl
â€¢ HDL over 40 mg/dl
â€¢ LDL less than 100 mg/dl
â€¢ Triglycerides less than 150 mg/dl
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Avoid the bad fats: Reduce saturated fats and eliminate trans fats from your diet. Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and dairy products, raise your LDL. Trans fats, found in fried foods and baked products, raise LDL and lower HDL â€“ a deadly combination. Avoid refined grains, sugar and processed foods. Even small changes can make a difference. For instance, make your own salad dressing instead of using a creamy one bought from the shop.
Exercise regularly: Exercise can improve HDL levels. Being physically active can help control weight gain and keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Losing as little as 5-10% of your weight can improve cholesterol levels. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days a week. Spending 10 minutes a day doing resistance training such as sit-ups, leg-lifts, and hip extensions will help lower LDL levels.
Quit smoking, cut caffeine and alcohol consumption: Tobacco smoke, both first-hand and second-hand, lowers HDL cholesterol. Both caffeine and alcohol have been shown to elevate cholesterol levels.
Manage stress and get enough sleep: These are crucial for cardiovascularhealth. Since there is a link between excessive stress and cholesterol production, take time to relax and de-stress. Deep breathing, light stretching, yoga and meditation will help.
FOODS THAT LOWER CHOLESTEROL
1. Fibre-rich grains like oats: Having 1Â½ cups of oatmeal on a regular basis could lower your LDL by 12-24%. This is because it contains soluble fibre which binds cholesterol in the digestive system and removes it from the body before it gets into circulation. High-fibre foods also raise HDL.
2. Cinammon: Add a half-teaspoon of cinnamon to your coffee before brewing. Researchers found that this reduced LDL levels by 30% in people with type 2 diabetes.
3. Nuts: Eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 55 gm of nuts a day can lower LDL by 5%. Moreover, nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.
4. Fruits and vegetables: They have ingredients that reduce bad cholesterol such as soluble fibre and cholesterol-blocking molecules called sterols and stanols. Eggplant and okra are especially good sources of soluble fibre. Apples, pears, grapes, strawberries and citrus fruits, especially grapefruit, are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fibre.
5. Beans: Beans are rich in soluble fibre. Also, they take a while to digest making you feel full for longer. That’s why beans are recommended for weight loss.
6. Fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream, increase HDL and reduce blood pressure. Eating fish two or three times a week lowers LDL in another way â€“ by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats.
7. Vegetable oils: Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower and others containing polyunsaturated fats lowers LDL. Avoid butter or hydrogenated oil.
8. Soy: Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, lowers cholesterol. Consuming 25 gm of soy protein a day can lower LDL by 5-6%.
9. Whey protein: Whey protein is a protein in dairy products. Studies have shown that whey protein powders, available in health food and grocery stores, lower LDL.
Sources: www.rd.com, www.mayoclinic.org, www.health.harvard.edu, www.organicauthority.com, time.com