Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is found naturally in our body. Our body needs some cholesterol to function properly. But too much fat collected in our blood can stick to the walls of our arteries and can even block them. Cholesterol comes from two sources: our body, and bards from animals. The cholesterol measured in our blood is produced by our liver to meet the body’s needs. The cholesterol in bards or dietary cholesterol come from animal sources like meats, poultry, seabard and fat containing dairy products such as ice cream, butter, cheese, whole milk, 2% fat milk. Plants bards do not contain any cholesterol.
Regularly eating bards high in Saturated fat, Trans fat, and dietary cholesterol can cause your liver to produce extra cholesterol which raises your blood cholesterol level. It is very important to know what you’re eating and what to avoid, to keep your blood cholesterol level low.
Cholesterol levels vary by age, weight, and gender. A person’s body tends to produce more cholesterol over the age. Cholesterol can be measured as:
- Desirable: Less than 200 mg/dl
- Borderline – High: 200 – 239 mg/dL
- High Risk: 240 mg/dL and above
LDL, or ‘bad cholesterol’
- Optimal: Less than 100 mg/dL
- Near Optimal/above optimal: 100-129 mg/dL
- Borderline – High: 130 – 159 mg/dL
- High Risk: 160-189 mg/dL
- Very High: 190 mg/dL and above
HDL, or ‘good cholesterol’
- Major risk factor for heart disease: Less than 40 mg/dL for a man and less than 50 mg/dL for a woman
- Some protection against heart disease: 60 mg/dL and above
- Triglycerides can also raise the risk of heart disease. Levels that are borderline high (150-199 mg/dL) or high (200 mg/dL or more) may need treatment in some people.
The main goal in treating high total cholesterol is to lower your LDL levels. Reducing your LDL can slow and even reverse the buildup of plaque in your arteries that can lead to a heart attack. Many variables affect the amount of cholesterol your body produces and how much of it is in the form of LDL Cholesterol, HDL Cholesterol, or Triglycerides. By changing you dietary habits and lifestyle, you can reduce your level of blood cholesterol.
Eating well and being physically active are the best ways to control your LDL cholesterol. If you are on cholesterol lowing drugs, you can still modify your diet and lifestyle. These lifestyle changes not only help to lower cholesterol but also help control high blood pressure, diabetes, overweight, and heart disease.
Healthy Diet: Eating a healthy diet requires a lot of planning but this planning can take you a long way towards a healthy lifestyle. If you replace the bards in your diet that are high in saturated fats, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol with nutritious bard, you will naturally reduce your blood cholesterol levels. Limit your sodium intake and use alcohol in moderation. Foods that can help lower cholesterol are
- A variety of whole- and multi-grain products, such as bran and oats
- Fatty fishes, such as salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna
- Foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables
- Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as avocado, flax seeds, olive oil and canola oil
- Foods rich in plant sterols, such as nuts like walnuts and almonds
Stay Active: Staying physically active is one of the best ways to avoid many health conditions. It increases your HDL cholesterol that is good cholesterol and reduces your LDL cholesterol. It helps to manage your weight and reduces your blood pressure. 30-40 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity like walking, bicycling, gardening, light workout, 4-5 days a week is recommended. Or you could also do 20 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity like running/ jogging, bicycling, swimming, aerobics or playing any sports 3-4 days a week.