T hese days we hear a lot of news and warnings about the risks of having high cholesterol. Due to this, many people regard cholesterol as a threat that can lead to heart diseases and try to eliminate it completely.
But they are ignorant about the fact that cholesterol performs certain essential functions in our body as well.
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring waxy substance, present in our blood stream and body cell, which comes from the food we eat and is manufactured by the liver as well. Not many people are aware of this fact, but the truth is that cholesterol is not always a bad thing. Most people do not know that we actually need cholesterol in our diet for the formation of many cells, for production of hormones as well as for production of bile.
However, extremely high or extremely low levels of cholesterol in the blood can cause serious health problems like stroke and heart attack. Blood carries cholesterol to various organs and glands that use it. When blood carries too much cholesterol, it starts to build up on the artery walls, as cholesterol cannot dissolve in the blood. This build-up, known as plaque, is responsible for many cardiovascular diseases.
Types of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is of two types: LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol, which is also known as low density lipoprotein, can be quite dangerous as it builds up plaque that clogs the artery walls, and reduces the flow of blood to the heart.
The reduced blood circulation raises blood pressure and causes stress and damage to the heart. Therefore, people with higher levels of LDL cholesterol are more vulnerable to heart diseases. So, precautions must be taken to keep LDL cholesterol at a safe level.
HDL cholesterol, or high density lipoprotein, is good cholesterol. This type of cholesterol helps the body to filter out bad (LDL) cholesterol from the artery walls and transport fats (triglycerides) in the blood steam and carries it to the liver, which excretes it from the body. So, it is needless to say that our body needs less LDL cholesterol and more HDL cholesterol for better functioning.
Today, heart disease is the number one killer disease, not only in America but in many other countries as well. More than half of the adult population in America has high level of cholesterol. Therefore, focusing on lowering cholesterol level is a must, if your cholesterol level is high.
Doctors may prescribe you cholesterol lowering medication. Even if you are taking these medicines, you need to pay attention to the tips mentioned here. This is important because various researches have proved that eating right food, doing exercise regularly and some lifestyle changes can maintain your cholesterol level and protect you from heart diseases. So, if you haven’t got your cholesterol level checked yet, get it checked immediately without ignoring it any longer.
A simple blood test is performed, which is also known as fasting lipoprotein profile, to measures total cholesterol level in the blood. Another test is also performed to determine the combination of HDL and total cholesterol.
Natural ways to lower cholesterol
There are many natural ways to lower cholesterol. Maximum cholesterol found in our body is from the foods that we eat. So the simple strategy we need to follow is consuming a diet that is high in fiber and low in saturated fats and trans-fat, which contribute to raise the level of LDL cholesterol. Choose foods like cold water fish, garlic, corn, flaxseed, onion, legumes, omega-3 rich oil and olive oil to lower the cholesterol level. Meat and dairy products contribute to LDL cholesterol.
Thus, their consumption should be restricted. For lowering cholesterol level, leafy vegetables, fruit and nuts are beneficial as they are low in bad fat and contain sterols and fiber. Though genetic factors play a role in cholesterol level as well, yet proper diet can check the bad cholesterol level to a great extent and reduce the risk of heart diseases and other health problems.
Another effective and natural way to lower the cholesterol level and maintain a healthy body weight is to follow a regular exercise regimen. Exercise sets off a chain of enzymatic reactions in our body that help to increase HDL and lower triglycerides. Aerobic and cardiovascular exercise, in particular, performed for 20 to 30 minutes a day can be quite effective in raising the level of good cholesterol.
There are some natural herbs that are very effective in lowering high cholesterol level. One such herb is guggul. It is a gum extract that binds cholesterol in the intestine so that it can get eliminated before entering the blood stream. Suggested dose is 250-500 mg, three times a day. But you must consult your physician before taking it.
Phytosterols, a natural plant compound present in certain food, can address high cholesterol levels. This naturally occurring compound can prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol because their chemical make-up is same as cholesterol. They block the absorption of cholesterol by fooling the body. Pistachios, wheat germ, sesame seed and sunflower seeds contain phytosterols.
Turmeric, a herb widely used in Indian food, contains an active ingredient known as curcumin. This active ingredient can reduce cholesterol by converting cholesterol into bile acids and further excreting the bile acids. Curcumin contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that aids in preventing oxidation of LDL cholesterol in the arteries.
Studies have also found that drinking half a glass of orange juice in the morning every day can help to improve the ratio of good and bad cholesterol. Studies have also found that eating frequent small meals instead of three large meals a day can lower cholesterol level significantly.
Many studies have also proved that drinking a glass of red wine or beer can lower LDL cholesterol because wine contains a plant compound called saponins, which is effective in controlling bad cholesterol. Simply cutting back on your consumption of simple carbs and eating complex carbs like brown rice and whole grain bread can lower the cholesterol level significantly.
Researches have also found sipping a cup of black tea 3-4 times a day can bring down the cholesterol level. It is also suggested that two ingredients found in brewed coffee, known as kahweol and cafestol, raise the cholesterol level. So those with high cholesterol levels should drink filter coffee only and restrict themselves from drinking espresso coffee.
Some more natural ways that are suggested for lowering the cholesterol level are use of olive oil in your salad dressing because monounsaturated fat contained in olive oil reduces LDL level. Use of cinnamon power in your meal can reduce LDL cholesterol level as well.
Stress can also raise the cholesterol level. So refrain yourself from getting stressed. Try stress management techniques like yoga or mind and body exercise to relieve yourself from stress. If you have high cholesterol level, then try these natural preventive strategies to lower your cholesterol level before resorting to chemical medications.
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