The artery clogging substance called cholesterol has been the bane of many a heart problems. High cholesterol is caused by a number of reasons. Lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits are the biggest risk factors for high cholesterol. If your overall cholesterol reading is higher than 200, then you have trouble on your hands.Ideally, if you are 20 or older, you should get yourself screened for high cholesterol at least once in 5 years. If the reading is high, there are some tips that you can follow to bring down the levels and stay healthy. Modifications in lifestyle and eating habits can bring about a huge difference to your overall readings and health.
Lowering High Cholesterol Tips
One of the first things that your doctor will see is whether you need medication for bringing down your cholesterol. This depends a lot on your family history. If you have a strong family history of cardiac problems, chances are that your cholesterol readings will always be on the higher side.This can be surmounted with the help of medication. Niacin, nitrates and statins are some of the medications that are being used to treat high cholesterol. Medications along with lifestyle changes will help patients with a strong family history of high cholesterol.
It is absolutely critical that you get in the much needed physical exertion to bring your weight down and consequently your cholesterol readings. In most cases, people with high cholesterol also have corresponding problems of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercise can help to tackle all of these and have a positive effect on your total cholesterol.Start with slow walks especially if you have not exercised before. You can gradually increase the pace and the intensity of your walks. Alternately, you can take up any other sport or exercise programme that helps you burn calories and lose weight. Weight loss will automatically bring down your cholesterol readings.
Kill the Saturated Fat in your Diet
The biggest culprit of high cholesterol is a diet that is high on saturated fats. These fats are found in ghee, butter, margarine and hydrogenated fats.Cakes, cookies, pastries, sweets and chocolates are very high on saturated fats and these should be banned from the diet completely especially when you are trying to bring down your cholesterol readings. Certain foods like eggs too are high in cholesterol. However, they can be had in moderation, as they are also high on other important nutrients.
Eat More Fibre
Dietary fibre is a great way of bringing down cholesterol readings. This fibre can be found in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Aim for 5-6 servings of dietary fibre from all of these food groups.Add variety and try to get fibre in different forms. This will not only help to lower the cholesterol but it will also do a world of good to your overall nutritional profile.
Fish like sardines and mackerel are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that are said to be excellent for health. Omega-3 fatty acids are said to be excellent for the health of the heart. These fatty acids are also said to be found in plant sources like walnuts but fish is said to be the best source of this valuable nutrient. Omega-3 brings down the bad cholesterol in the body and helps to elevate the good cholesterol.
A number of studies have thrown up the importance and the goodness of green tea in lowering the LDL cholesterol. Green tea has cholesterol-fighting compounds that are said to be good for health.Not only that but it is also loaded in antioxidants that reduce cancer in the body. Aim to have 1-2 cups of green tea everyday for heart health. Have the tea bland without any sugar so as to cut down on your overall calorific consumption.
Make sure you eat plenty of nuts throughout the day. Nuts like almonds and walnuts are also excellent sources of good cholesterol because they contain the vital omega-3 fatty acids that bring down the bad cholesterol in the body. Of course, nuts are also loaded in calories so have no more than a handful of nuts every day.
Make sure you quit smoking from your life. Smoking has a bad effect on your cardiovascular health and is said to elevate LDL cholesterol readings thus compounding the problem of high cholesterol.
Watch the Snacks
If you are fond of nibbling in between meals, make sure that you nibble on healthy snacks like fruits, nuts or popcorn rather than gorging on biscuits or pastries. Avoid store brought snacks and processed foods. If you have to indulge, stick to homemade foods, as they are safer and healthier.
Eat Meat Sparingly
Meat especially red meat like lamb, pork, beef and bacon are loaded in dietary cholesterol and saturated fats. These foods should be eaten very sparingly. Instead, opt for white meat like skinless poultry and fish, which are infinitely healthier and more nourishing on the body.
Choose Low Fat Dairy
Make sure you eat a lot of low fat dairy like skimmed milk and curd. Avoid drinking full fat milk as well as cream as these are high on saturated fats and can increase your cholesterol readings.
Stay Stress Free
Stress too can affect your heart health and lead to cardiovascular disease. Cut yourself some slack and learn to relax. Take breaks from never ending deadlines and learn to enjoy yourself. Meditation, yoga, reading and meeting friends are all good ways of beating stress and unwinding and this too can have a positive impact on your heart health.
Reduce your Salt Intake
It is also very important to cut down your salt intake. Salt is the major reason behind high blood pressure and this can also affect your cardiac health and cholesterol readings. Stick to an oil-free, bland diet.It is important to change your overall lifestyle for the better to permanently ward off high cholesterol. It is a better alternative than living on lifelong medication.