Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in animal-based foods that we eat. It is also in our body’s cells. Our bodies need some cholesterol to function normally and can make all the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol in the body is used to make hormones and vitamin D. It also plays a role in digestion.
There are three main types of cholesterol in the body:
• High-density lipoprotein, or HDL. Often called the good cholesterol, HDL helps to remove excess cholesterol from your body.
• Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. LDL is the bad cholesterol. It can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries.
• Very low-density lipoprotein, or VLDL. VLDL also tends to promote plaque buildup.
Many things may increase your risk for high cholesterol, including:
• Genetics: High cholesterol runs in some families.
• Age: As we age, our cholesterol levels rise.
• Medicines: Certain drugs can elevate cholesterol levels.
• Obesity: Individuals with overweight or obese body mass indices are at greater risk for high cholesterol.
• Diet: Consuming high quantities of saturated and trans fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels.
• Inactivity: Activity helps to elevate HDL cholesterol.
• Smoking: Tobacco products decrease HDL and increase LDL. The link between smoking and high cholesterol is greater for women. A well-balanced diet can be used as part of a healthy lifestyle plan to help reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of developing heart problems. Mediterranean and vegetarian diets are ideal for heart health but also quite easy to follow if you’re looking to lose weight as well.
Healthy eating can make a huge difference to your cholesterol levels and your heart health, whether your cholesterol has crept up over the years or you have a genetic condition. Lower cholesterol levels will improve your health in other ways too, helping to lower your blood pressure, prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy weight.
Everyone with high cholesterol can benefit from a heart-healthy lifestyle. However, your doctor might recommend additional support to manage your cholesterol levels, like a cholesterol-lowering drug, especially if your cholesterol is high because of genetics.
If you are at risk of developing high cholesterol, simple lifestyle changes can help reduce that risk. These include eating a heart-healthy diet, being physically active and achieving or maintaining a healthy body weight.
WHEN IT COMES TO A HEALTHY EATING PLAN,
THESE MAIN POINTS ARE CRUCIAL
Enjoy Foods with Plant Sterols and Stanols. Some foods — fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and whole grains — contain substances called plant sterols and stanols. Eating foods rich in these substances may help combat rising total and LDL cholesterol levels. To increase your daily intake, also look for foods fortified with plant sterols and stanols. For example, some orange juice and certain cereals may be fortified.
Limit Your Intake of Saturated Fat. Saturated fats are mostly found in animal-based foods such as meats and whole-fat dairy products. Higher intakes of saturated fat have been found to elevate LDL cholesterol. Studies have also shown that replacing sources of saturated fat with unsaturated fats can help decrease your total and LDL cholesterol levels. To help reduce your intake of saturated fat:
Cook with vegetable oils, such as olive, canola, sunflower and safflower.
Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, walnuts and ground flaxseed.
Choose lactose free dairy products, such as almond, soya, coconut or oat milk and Greek yogurt. Avoid all cheeses. Lactose free feta and grana Padano cheese may be enjoyed due to its low percentage of fat.
Swap out butter and lard for vegetable oil options, which offer unsaturated fats.
Avoid trans fats — they have been found to increase LDL levels and were found in highly processed foods. Food manufacturers have removed trans fats from their products, but some foods with a longer shelf-life may still contain them. Check the amount of trans fat on the Nutrition Facts Label and in the ingredients list. If it says the food contains a partially hydrogenated oil, put it back.
Select Lean Protein Foods. Lean protein foods provide less calories from fat. To choose lean cuts:
Check the package for the keywords loin, fillet or round.
Strip the skin off your chicken and turkey to reduce the saturated fat.
Limit fatty, marbled meats, fried or deep-fried foods and other foods that are high in saturated fat, such as organ meats.
Choose healthier options when eating out by selecting foods that are baked, broiled or grilled.
Savor Soluble Fiber. Dietary fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils and whole grains. These nutrient-dense foods provide two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Both types are important for good health. Getting adequate amounts of dietary fiber from a variety of foods is important for everyone. Research has shown that soluble fiber, in particular, from fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils and whole grains, may help to lower LDL cholesterol. In the stomach, soluble fiber forms a thick, jelly-like substance, which helps bind dietary cholesterol from foods you’re eating. So, load up on vegetables and fruits:
Select fruits and vegetables that also provide soluble fiber. For example, figs, Brussels sprouts, peaches, carrots, apricots, mangoes and oranges.
Eat a variety of different colored fruits and veggies.
Shift to more plant-based or vegetarian meals by including beans, lentils and soy foods.
Focus on whole forms of produce, which includes fresh, frozen or dried.
Whole grains also are a great way to get the benefits of dietary fiber.
Eat barley and oats, both of these provide soluble fiber.
Make sure the food label on your bread says 100% whole-grain or lists a whole grain as one of the first ingredients.
Limit refined carbohydrates, especially sources of added sugars, such as sweets and sugar - sweetened beverages.
One note of caution: as you increase your fiber intake, also increase your intake of water. This will help to reduce your risk of becoming constipated
Together with exercise, eating a healthy diet can help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure and decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.
In today’s hectic work schedule, we hardly find time to have proper food, thus we skip the morning breakfast, end up eating brunch or have late night dinner. As a result of an unhealthy lifestyle and poor eating pattern people, these days are suffering from several health issues, especially those who are having late night dinner the risk is high.
Recent studies support the claim, as per recent findings having a late dinner can increases weight and surge blood sugar levels regardless of calories. Eating dinner at 9pm or 10 p.m. instead of 7pm or 8 p.m. may affect blood sugar levels, slow down metabolism and the ability to burn fat.
The study also revealed that late eaters had 20% high blood glucose levels and 10% reduced fat burning capacity than those who ate early dinner.