Cholesterol is a sticky, wax like substance that is naturally present in many foods. It is also produced by the human body to facilitate its cellular functions. So you see that cholesterol is not meant to cause any harm to your body system.
If you stick to a healthy lifestyle and healthy diet plan, this sticky substance will rarely cause any harm to your entire body system. But if you follow unhealthy lifestyle and poor dietary habits then cholesterol can cause havoc to your entire health. Therefore, you should take appropriate steps to control it to avoid severe damage caused to your body.
Two main types of cholesterol known to the mankind include the High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL). Problem arises when imbalance is caused in the production of these two types of cholesterol. LDL is popular as ‘bad cholesterol’ and HDL as ‘good cholesterol’. If the quantity of LDL increases in your body then it can give rise to several health problems, some of which are life-threatening too!
Understanding HDL & LDL
LDL as well as HDL is exceptional lipoprotein carriers, which carry cholesterol through blood. Blood cannot dissolve cholesterol; hence it needs LDL and HDL as carriers so that it is transported to its destination. LDL is supposed to transport cholesterol to the body cells; but when surplus cholesterol floats in the bloodstream, it gets deposited onto the inner walls of the arteries. As a result, blood supply to your brain and heart gets blocked. HDL plays an integral role in transporting excessive amount of LDL cholesterol from your arteries and removing from your body. Hence, it is important to raise the levels of good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol so as to keep your body functioning well.
Consequences Of High Cholesterol Levels
We have already seen above that the presence of excess amount of LDL in the body causes plaque formation on the inner arterial walls, leading to the blockage of blood flow to the vital organs such as heart and brain. Restricted blood flow usually leads to coronary heart disease, which often results in a severe heart attack.
When plaque is formed in the arteries of the neck that are connected to your brain, then it may give rise to carotid artery disease. This disease is capable of causing stroke in the sufferers. Few other health problems caused due to high levels of bad cholesterol may include TIAs i.e. transient ischemic attack, high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, angina, etc.
Fortunately, the researchers have found out some healthy ways of beating cholesterol and putting a check on its numbers. Some proven and effective ways to beat cholesterol and lead a healthy life have been discussed below. You are recommended to adopt these measures from the very beginning, so as to keep any complications at bay.
How To Beat Cholesterol Naturally
Being a ‘couch potato’ will put you at an increased risk of having high bad cholesterol levels. In order to beat cholesterol, you should exercise daily for at least half an hour. Exercising regularly has been effective in increasing the HDL cholesterol level and decreasing the LDL cholesterol level. Therefore, it is essential to be physically active and perform moderate intensity exercises regularly.
Aerobic exercises are exceptionally beneficial for heart health and they also help in lowering the level of cholesterol. Even if you are old, you should perform light exercises such as slow walking, brisk walking, slow dancing, etc. These are very effective ways to beat cholesterol.
The level of HDL i.e. good cholesterol in the body is significantly reduced by cigarette smoking. And when HDL decreases, greater amount of LDL gets deposited on the arterial walls and restricts or blocks the blood supply to different organs.
You should seriously consider the option of stopping cigarette smoking for the sake of maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol. You may be pleased to note that by quitting smoking, you can decrease your risk of developing coronary heart disease by nearly 50%!
Stop Excessive Alcohol Intake
In order to beat cholesterol naturally, you should restrict your alcohol intake to 1 drink per day. Do not consume excess alcohol otherwise you may put yourself at the risk of high levels of cholesterol in your body.
Eat Adequate Soluble Fiber
Increasing your intake of soluble fiber is an effective way to beat cholesterol. Diet high in soluble fiber plays a key role in lowering your LDL cholesterol levels by absorbing it in the intestine.
Yes, soluble fiber absorbs the excessive amount of LDL and hinders its absorption by your intestine. Therefore, you should include the foods that are high in soluble fiber. Examples include apples, kidney beans, psyllium husk, prunes, oatmeal, barley, cabbage, broccoli, figs, etc.
Avoid Intake Of Excess Saturated Fat & Trans Fat
Foods high in these fats increase your LDL cholesterol level and hence their consumption should be minimized. Identify the list of such foods and try to restrict their intake. You should consider some healthy food options in their place.
Increase Your Intake Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids should be included in your daily diet because these are extremely beneficial in reducing the level of LDL cholesterol. They also protect your heart against any heart disease. You should consume fish at least twice weekly and if you are a vegetarian then you can obtain adequate amount of Omega-3 from ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
Eat Healthy Diet
You should increase your intake of fruits and vegetables because they provide healthy nutrition. Cut back on foods like processed foods and fast foods and pre-packaged foods and beverages. Following a healthy diet can bring down the cholesterol level by about 20%.
Garlic is very effective in lowering the level of bad cholesterol. It not only reduces LDL cholesterol but also decreases the level of total cholesterol and triglycerides in the body. Hence, you should eat 2-3 cloves of raw garlic each day.
Eat Soy Protein
Eat foods high in soy protein such as tofu, edamame, veggie burgers, etc. Soy protein works on cholesterol in 2 ways. Firstly, it increases the rate of removal of LDL cholesterol from the blood and secondly, it decreases cholesterol production in the liver. You should eat approximately 25 grams of soy protein per day.