Cholesterol Can Block Your Path To A Healthier Life
- 3 mins read
- Written by: Dr. Jatin Bhide
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Cholesterol is not a bad thing, but too much of it can leave you at a major risk for heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. Cholesterol leads to a waxy build-up in your artery walls that narrows and clogs up your arteries. This may block the blood flow to your brain or to your heart.
There are two main types of cholesterol, LDL and HDL. HDL is the good cholesterol as it expels excess cholesterol by transporting it from your arteries to your liver. LDL is the bad cholesterol as it deposits excess cholesterol into your arteries. This may increase your risk of blood clots, which in turn may cause a stroke or a heart attack.
Managing your cholesterol levels would either mean reducing your LDL levels or increasing your HDL levels depending on your current health. In either case, you can keep your cholesterol in check by incorporating a few healthy practices into your lifestyle.
Daily exercise can help you cut your bad cholesterol levels and increase your HDL i.e. good cholesterol levels. Not just that, it also strengthens your heart and is good for your blood pressure. High-intensity forms of exercise may be especially effective. Doctors recommend at least 150 mins of moderate daily exercise. Consult with your doctor for the right exercise routine for you.
Arrive at a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese tends to increase bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower good cholesterol (HDL). Being overweight itself can lead to a higher risk of heart disease. However, skinny people can have high levels of cholesterol that can be just as dangerous. Slimming down and staying fit helps get your cholesterol levels back on track.
Favor good fats
Not all fats are bad. You can choose unsaturated fats that don’t raise cholesterol levels. Unsaturated fats can be found in foods like nuts, fish, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, and more. Animal fat and processed meat contain saturated fat which you should limit.
One healthy habit you could involve in your daily lifestyle is to always check the labels on packaged food items. Packaged foods like baked goods, snacks, frozen pizza, and more contain trans fats that are harmful to health. Even products that read ‘0g trans-fat’ will have a tiny bit of fat in each serving which will build up in time. Also, watch out for ‘partially hydrogenated’ on the ingredients list which means it contains trans-fat.
Increase your fiber intake
Adding fiber to your diet can help you lower your cholesterol level. Plant-based foods like whole grains, beans, and many fruits and vegetables contain fiber. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.
Limit your sugar intake
A high sugar intake raises your triglyceride levels which in turn increases your risk of heart diseases. Check food and drink labels to see how much sugar has been added, apart from sugars that are naturally part of a food. Many people who have high blood sugar also have high cholesterol levels. However, both can be managed with a healthy diet.
Monitor your cholesterol levels
A lipid panel or a lipid profile is a complete cholesterol test that can help measure the total amount of good and bad cholesterol in your body. It is recommended that men above the age of 35 and women above the age of 45 should get their cholesterol levels checked every five years. If you have blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of cholesterol you can take the test from an earlier age. Knowing your cholesterol levels is the first step to staying in control of your health.
Following your doctor’s guidelines, the right medication, and making the right lifestyle changes can help you control your cholesterol levels.