Cholesterol is created in your liver and it’s important for hormone production and keeping your cell walls flexible. However, as you probably know, it can become an issue if your cholesterol levels are too high. Cholesterol is transported through the body by molecules known as lipoproteins. While high-density lipoprotein (HDL) helps to prevent certain diseases like strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure, by carrying cholesterol away from blood vessel walls, while too much of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can help to increase risks to those diseases by depositing it in the blood vessel walls.
So that’s why if you have too much LDL, it can lead to high cholesterol problems, which in turn, can lead to heart problems. So what can you do to keep your cholesterol at a manageable level? Most of it involves a closer look at your diet and lifestyle. Here are a few things to take into account.
Cut out foods which contain cholesterol
While dietary cholesterol isn’t a big part of your overall cholesterol problem (your liver will usually make smaller amounts to match the levels of cholesterol in your body), your doctor might advise you to cut them out. Certain foods like eggs, kidneys, and prawns might have to be cut out or consumed a lot less due to their levels of cholesterol. However, it’s probably more important to look at some other things first before taking this step.
Check saturated fats
Eating too much saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels, and a lot of people eat an excess of saturated fats. They can be found in foods like creams and hard cheeses, cakes and biscuits, sausages, butter and lard, foods with coconut or palm oil, etc. Replacing these foods with foods that contain unsaturated fats can help keep cholesterol levels more normal, for example, you could instead eat nuts, avocados, vegetable oils and spreads, and oily fish. Specifically, monounsaturated fats are a good way to manage cholesterol levels, so tree nuts (almonds and cashews) and olives and olive oil are particularly good for this.
Cut down on trans fats
Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fat that are changed by a process called hydrogenation, so they are processed differently by the body and are high in LDL and cholesterol. They decrease HDL, which is beneficial to us. Trans fats are in processed foods like cakes and biscuits, and sometimes are naturally found in some animal products like meat, milk, and other dairy products. Your doctor might be able to tell you whether it is necessary to cut out trans fats entirely or partially.
The way we cook adds a lot of fat content to our diet, and we need to control our overall risk to diseases like heart attacks and strokes. Roasting and frying can be quite damaging if that’s the only way you cook your food, or if you do it too frequently. Instead, you should consider grilling, boiling, or poaching, and using low-fat dairy products and lean meats.
Eat high-fibre foods
Some high-fibre foods can actually help you lower cholesterol levels. Women should be eating at least 30g of fibre a day. Try wholemeal bread or whole grain cereal after your morning yoga session, add way more fruits and veggies to your diet, and grill your potatoes with the skin on. You can also try to eat more nuts, seeds, and pulses and lentils, which are quite easy to add to your diet as snacks or as part of the main meal.
Exercise can really help to manage your cholesterol levels, even if you don’t want to do it. Try signing up for group aerobics classes, or women’s aerobics classes, it can be fun and you’ll make a lot of friends. It’ll also, obviously, have really good benefits for your health. Doing 150 minutes of aerobics a week can really go a long way towards helping your cholesterol levels. Otherwise, you can try exercising on your own, like walking or doing jumping jacks. Even low-intensity exercises can have benefits for your cholesterol.
So now you know all about what to do to help your cholesterol levels stay normal. If you feel you have a serious cholesterol problem, you should first and foremost consult a doctor and follow their advice, however. With the right changes to your lifestyle, you should be good in no time.