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How to Lower LDL Cholesterol by Changing Food Habits?
High cholesterol level is dangerous to the health of body, but it does not mean that all types of cholesterol are bad. Body needs cholesterol for its proper functioning. Cholesterol helps in the production of hormones, vitamin D and bile acids. But the quantity required by the body is only very little, so when the accumulation of cholesterol is too much excess than required it will cause serious health problems.
There are two types of cholesterols; high density lipoproteins (HDL) and low density lipoproteins (LDL). HDL cholesterol is known as ‘good’ cholesterol and its presence is good for the body; it lowers the risk of heart diseases. LDL cholesterol is the ‘bad’ cholesterol and when the body accrues it more than required it becomes the main cause of some diseases including heart attacks.
Cholesterol is fat like substances found in certain foods such as eggs, meat and diary products. High cholesterol is a major factor causing cardiac problems and stroke. When the presence of LDL cholesterol is too much, plaques (a thick and hard substance) will develop in the walls of arteries which will obstruct the natural flow of blood. This will lead to angina or chest pain and more buildup of the LDL cholesterol will cause heart attack also.
Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
If the level of the cholesterol is increased, no symptoms will be produced by the body to warn you as in the case of other diseases. You will know about the higher amassing of cholesterol only when you are affected by other diseases. So to prevent unexpected health hazards, it is better to check the cholesterol once in every five years (even if you have any disease) after you have completed 25 years of age.
HDL & LDL Cholesterol Explained
High Cholesterol and Diseases (Atherosclerosis, Peripheral Artery Disease, Diabetics and Hypertension)
High cholesterol is linked with heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Cardiovascular problems will arise if you have a higher level of LDL cholesterol for a long period of time. Heart diseases can include coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
When the level of cholesterol is high in your body the arteries will become hard by the deposit formation or plaques, obstructing the natural blood flow. This will lead to a major heart disease called ‘atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a heart disease that has a very high mortality rate among all the diseases that are fatal. The condition of atherosclerosis can lead to stroke also, when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is completely blocked.
High cholesterol causes peripheral vascular disease. Fatty deposits or plaques that accumulate in the artery walls obstruct the blood flow to the blood vessels that supply blood to the legs and feet causing peripheral vascular diseases.
Diabetic patients will have LDL cholesterol particles in their blood stream and it will lead to the formation of plaques. HDL cholesterol level will be low in diabetes patients, but another kind of blood fat known as ‘triglyceride’ will be high in them; these two conditions are risky and may cause heart problems.
High cholesterol is also linked with high blood pressure. In addition to the arteries which are connected to the heart, plaques will form in the other blood vessels making the flow of blood difficult. When the natural flow of the blood flow is obstructed, body has to use more force to supply the blood to the brain and other organs resulting in high blood pressure.
What Causes High LDL Cholesterol?
- Age is a factor that contributes to the variation of cholesterol levels. As the age increases cholesterol levels also rise. In the case of women, the presence of estrogen hormone prevents the rise of cholesterol level before menopause. But after menopause, women’s LDL level will also rise as per their age increases.
- When you eat foods that contain saturated fat, the LDL cholesterol level will rise.
- Increased sugar level (in diabetic patients) will increase cholesterol also.
- Heredity is another factor that determines the level of the cholesterol.
- Obesity or overweight will increase cholesterol.
- Lack of exercise helps the accumulation of fats and the increase of cholesterol. Regular exercise will increase the level of HDL cholesterol and reduce the level of LDL cholesterol.
LDL Cholesterol - Foods to be Avoided
How to Lower LDL Cholesterol and Avoid the Risk of Heart Disease?
If you found an increase in cholesterol level, consult your doctor for advice. Doctor will analyze your present physical condition and study your previous medical history. If you are doing the cholesterol check periodically and it is the first time you are noticing this increase, the doctor will not prescribe any medicines normally. You will be advised to do make some changes in your diet and to do exercises regularly.
But if you are diabetic or having hypertension or having some cardiac problems, some medicines also will be prescribed to lower the cholesterol level immediately along with the suggestion for diet control and the advice to do regular exercises. The normal methods to lower LDL cholesterol level are:
- Take the medicines prescribed by the doctor.
- Limit the cholesterol intake through foods below 300 milligrams. That means you have to eat low-cholesterol foods. The American Heart Association recommends that cholesterol intake should be less than 200 milligrams, for those who have a history of cardiac problems.
- Smoking habit should be avoided and limit the intake of alcohol.
- Exercises should be done regularly for at least 30 minutes daily. You should do normal exercises for minimum of five days in a week. Exercises help to increase the level of good cholesterol or HDL cholesterol.
How to Lower LDL Cholesterol with Diet
Foods That Lower LDL Cholesterol Naturally
Most of the fat accumulation in the body is from the consumption of saturated fats through the foods you eat. Consumption of fatty foods for a long time will make you obese and your cholesterol will increase. But if you are not checking the cholesterol level regularly, you will not become aware about the increase of your cholesterol level till you are attacked by some health problems, more likely by chest pain or heart disease.
So control of the foods is very much required to reduce the cholesterol level. Eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Fiber foods will help to lower LDL cholesterol and bans, seeds and nuts are good selections to include in your diet. Fish like salmon, tuna and sardines contains omega-3 fatty acids which will help to fight against the plaque formation in the blood vessels; so include these fresh water fishes in your diet.
Do not skip any meal, otherwise you will consume more quantity of food when you get a chance to eat next time. If it is convenient, eat 5 or 6 times daily in small quantities or continue your normal pattern of eating (3 times a day) in limited quantities. Some of the food items that can help to lower LDL cholesterol are:
- Nuts like walnuts, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts etc. are good to lower LDL cholesterol because they have a lot of protein, fibers, non-saturated fats, vitamins and antioxidants. Walnuts are more useful because it contains omega-3 fatty acids also. But do not eat cashew nuts, Brazil nuts or macadamia nuts because they have very high fat content.
- Plant sterols and stanols which are found in many grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds are very helpful to lower LDL cholesterol. They can prevent the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. You can get sterols and stanols from orange juices and from cereals; it can also find in some cooking oils, milk and yogurt.
- Fresh water fishes like salmon, tuna, sardines etc. contains omega-3 fatty acids and this is good for lowering ‘triglycerides’, another type of fat that is in the blood. Include these fishes in your diet, but do not eat deep-fried fishes.
- Oatmeal is another food item that helps to lower LDL cholesterol. Oatmeal is full of soluble fiber and it sticks to the cholesterol and prevent them from being absorbed into the system. Oatmeal is a healthy breakfast and you can also replace it with the other products made out of oat bran.
- Soy protein will help to lower cholesterol. Soy is a good source of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids that is good for heart health. You can substitute soy protein with beef, soy butter and cheese with regular high-fat butter and cheese, soybeans with beef chili and soy dog with hot dog. Supplements of soy are not effective as natural soy foods.
Selecting the right foods to eat is a wise method to control LDL cholesterol and to avoid the complication of major health diseases. If you have found that your cholesterol level is higher than the normal, try to change your food items, by selecting some of the foods given above. Many supplements are available containing the above food items, but they are not effective as the natural food items.