The desirable total cholesterol level for our body is below 200 mg/dL. If the level is between 200 to 239 mg/dL, it is considered as moderately high and above 240 mg/dL is high.
High cholesterol will lead to the following risk:
- Atherosclerosis – narrowing of blood vessels due to fatty deposits on the blood vessel wall.
- Heart disease – caused by narrowed arteries in the heart blocking the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.
- Stroke – caused by narrowed blood vessels blocking the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat produced by the liver. It is crucial for normal body functions. It builds and maintains cell membrane, which function like a gateway controlling what goes in and out of the cells.
It is involved in the production of sex hormones and other hormones. Cholesterol converts sunshine into vitamin D and is required for the production of vitamin A, E and K.
Cholesterol is carried in the blood by lipoprotein. There are 3 main types of lipoproteins:
- LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) is the bad cholesterol as it takes cholesterol from the liver and sends it to the cells.
- HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) is the good cholesterol as it does the opposite to LDL; it takes cholesterol away from the cells back to the liver for removal.
- Triglycerides constitute most of the body fat. Triglycerides and cholesterol together form the blood fat.
What cause high cholesterol?
The primary cause is poor diet and lack of exercise. A sedentary lifestyle and a diet full of trans fat , saturated fat and refined carbohydrates will lead to increase in cholesterol over time.
Some genetic factors such as family members who have heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or high cholesterol will increase your risk of the disease.
Secondary factors could be other illnesses that contribute to high cholesterol such as diabetes, kidney failure, and hypothyroidism.
When you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, the doctors commonly prescribe a drug called Statins. However, there are undesirable effects of taking Statins such as muscle pain, memory loss and deterioration of muscle tissue in the body.
Therefore, it is better that we lower cholesterol naturally. Here is how:
5 Ways to lower cholesterol naturally.
Phytosterol works by preventing or minimizing absorption of cholesterol from food in the small intestine, so the cholesterol is excreted out from the body.
It also slows down the production of cholesterol in the liver, though, mechanism is not known.
Daily consumption of more than 2 g lowers LDL by 10%. You can get phytosterol from nuts, seeds, colorful fruits and vegetables. The World Health Organization recommends 7 portions of colorful fruits and vegetables a day for optimal health.
2) Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol and LDL in the small intestine, hence, preventing it from entering into the blood.
25 g of fiber per day lower cholesterol by 18%. You can get fiber from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. For more information on fiber, check out my previous post.
3) Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids increase HDL and reduce LDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides. It is abundant in oily fish such as salmon and tuna. Recommended dosage is 500 – 900mg per day.
Exercise helps to reduce or maintain your weight. It improves blood circulation and stimulate the enzyme that move LDL from the blood to the liver where it is excreted via the bile into the digestive system.
30 min exercise everyday such as brisk walling for at least 5 days a week is a good start for those who have been inactive.
5) Quit Smoking
Smoking lowers HDL and increases LDL. Within a year of quitting smoking, you can cut the risk of heart disease by half.
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