You are diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia and now searching for ways to reduce cholesterol levels. Well! You are on the right path. Over time, by eating heavy, greasy meals and practicing poor lifestyle habits, Cholesterol buildup occurs in your blood resulting in its deposition in the artery walls. This increases the risk of stroke & other heart diseases.
According to research, 39.3% of individuals had high LDL levels in Pakistan, and most were between 50-59 years of age.
Except for bad eating and lifestyle habits, if you have a family history of heart disease associated with a bad lipid profile, then, again, chances are you’ll be having the same issue as genetic factors also play their role in the disease.
Let’s know all about bad cholesterol and ways to reduce it.
Hypercholesterolemia or High Cholesterol Levels
Hyperlipidemia means you have a high amount of fats in your blood. Those fats include cholesterol and triglycerides.
Hypercholesterolemia is a condition in which your blood has a high amount of bad cholesterol i-e LDL (Low-density lipoproteins) or bad cholesterol but a low amount of HDL (High-Density Lipoproteins) or good cholesterol.
Cholesterol is formed in the liver and has an important role in making certain hormones and keeping your cell walls flexible, but high levels may lead to life-threatening situations.
Cholesterol is insoluble in water and transported via lipoproteins (LDL). Hence high levels of LDL end up in cholesterol deposits in your blood vessels.
Ways to Reduce Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol levels increase the risk of developing heart and other diseases. You can’t control your genes contributing to the genetic build-up of cholesterol levels. However, the ball for changing your dietary and sedentary lifestyle is still in your court.
Read to know the tips on how you can reduce your cholesterol levels!
Consume Good fats
Consumption of Unsaturated fats, which remain liquid at room temperature, can improve cholesterol levels in the blood and has other beneficial effects like stabilizing the heart’s rhythms. Their role in lowering the amount of LDL in your blood is also proven, according to research. They are;
Foods that have a high level of these monounsaturated fats include
- Dry fruits like almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and cashew nuts
- Olives and olive oil
- Canola oil
Similarly, polyunsaturated fats are also helpful in reducing bad LDL and decreasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
These fats are present in;
- Seafood like fish,
- Tree nuts
- Flax seeds
Strong evidence suggests the importance of unsaturated fats for lowering cholesterol & its associated risks as they prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol, when reacted with free radicals, increases the risk of developing clogged arteries.
Skimmed milk, low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and a healthy diet are highly recommended.
Eat Soluble Fibre
Soluble fibers are the different compounds obtained from plants that are soluble in water but can’t be digested by humans. A diet rich in fiber is the key food to reduce cholesterol levels.
However, probiotics or good bacteria in your gut can digest it and even need it for their nutrition. They then contribute to reducing LDL levels.
Research by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that wholegrain, rich in fiber, lowers LDL levels and doesn’t reduce the good cholesterol in your blood. That’s good news!
A study shows a 10% reduced risk for death by each 10g/day fiber intake.
The food sources of soluble fiber include;
- Whole grains
- Psyllium (Ispaghol)
Reduce your weight
Obesity or BMI>30 can increase the risk of many cardiovascular diseases. Cutting off some extra pounds helps decrease cholesterol levels as the fats are reduced in people with a lower weight.
You don’t need to starve; a minor weight reduction can significantly lower bad cholesterol.
A reduction of 10% of initial weight significantly reduced the risks of cardiovascular disease involving triglycerides and LDL.
In short, weight loss has double effects on lowering LDL and increasing HDL, which is good cholesterol.
Another benefit of weight reduction is the reversal of insulin resistance due to obesity which results in hormonal and lipoproteins regulation.
To reduce weight;
- Do regular exercise
- Eat fewer carbohydrates
- Take Walnut-rich diet
- Cut off extra sugar
- Watch your portions
Reduce your stress
Don’t stress over your high cholesterol lab report! It will worsen the condition. Instead, take a chill pill and relax because reducing stress can reduce cholesterol levels.
Stress takes your body to a flight or flight response. Stress hormones, primarily cortisol, are released that hasten your heart. Over time, continuous stress (cortisol) can put your heart under constant strain, build up cholesterol levels in your arteries, and clog them.
The story doesn’t end here! Stress also exacerbates inflammation, reducing HDL or good cholesterol, which aims to wash away the bad one.
Researchers also argue that psychological stress can be a risk factor for high lipid levels.
- Staying calm and relaxed helps in controlling your cholesterol
- Try to make yourself busy with productive activities or hobbies which keep your body active
- Exercise regularly
- Practice relaxation techniques to relieve stress
It’s as simple as that! Just relax to reduce cholesterol levels.
Try home remedies
Complementary remedies always go hand in hand with lipid-lowering medicines. Some of the common home remedies involve;
JN, The Journal Of Nutrition shows that consumption of ginger significantly reduced triglyceride and cholesterol levels. You can take ginger tea with cinnamon and clove in it.
Research showed a total cholesterol reduction by using cinnamon. Cinnamaldehyde which is a key component of cinnamon, plays the role of reducing cholesterol levels.
Cinnamon can be consumed as cinnamon tea and powder in beverages, desserts, and savory.
- Other home remedies involve condiments like;
- black pepper
- Raw garlic
However, a little research proves the role of these remedies in lowering your cholesterol levels, and more evidence-based research is needed to support the argument.
Smoking is always associated with heart disease, as smoking increases bad cholesterol levels in your blood and reduces good cholesterol (HDL). Data shows higher levels of cholesterol in smokers.
- Smoking increases LDL levels in your blood which clog the arteries.
- It reduced HDL levels
- It damages the artery walls, and cholesterol gets deposited in these damaged areas
- Smoking makes your heart beat faster and thickens the blood, which becomes difficult to cross the arteries. This thickened blood increases the chances of developing clots that blocks the arteries resulting in a stroke.
Get immediate help to quit smoking and buckle up for a healthy heart by reducing cholesterol levels.
Exercising regularly maintains your physical health and benefits your heart by managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Exercise training can increase your HDL levels, an important lipoprotein for getting rid of bad cholesterol in your blood. It also reduces excess weight, kicking the bad cholesterol out of your body.
It is recommended that 150 minutes of moderate-level aerobic exercise per week is sufficient to reduce your bad cholesterol and blood pressure.
There are plenty of options to say goodbye to a sedentary lifestyle. These include;
- Brisk walking
- Jumping jacks
Thus, the positive health impacts of exercise on cholesterol levels are well researched and proven as it not only helps reduce bad cholesterol but also increases gold cholesterol, which is a gold standard for preventing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Causes of High Cholesterol levels
Many causes and increased risk factors result in High LDL and Low HDL levels. Some of them are mentioned below;
- Genetic factors
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Being overweight (Obesity)
- Eating too many fatty foods
- Alcohol consumption
- Not exercising enough
- Age (risk increases in >50 years of age)
These and some other unknown factors increase the risk of developing high bad cholesterol levels in the blood and reduce good cholesterol levels.
Associated Risks With High Cholesterol Levels
A higher LDL and low HDL levels in the blood than the recommended amounts are in no way healthy.
High cholesterol levels;
- Clog the arteries by depositing fats
- Increased risk of coronary artery disease
- Increased risk of peripheral vascular disease
- Increased risk of stroke
- Causes heart attack
- Causes High blood pressure
- Increase the risk of developing diabetes
- Damage the kidneys
Cholesterol is formed by the liver and transported by lipoproteins to other body parts. LDL-C or bad cholesterol levels rise due to genetic and other factors, resulting in fat buildup in your arteries. These blocked arteries hamper the blood flow resulting in cardiovascular risks. It also results in thrombus and embolus formation, which results in heart failure, stroke, ischemia, and other fatal conditions.
Exercise, dietary control, weight loss, and other healthy habits can help reduce cholesterol levels naturally, apart from conventional medicines.
1. What is a normal cholesterol level?
Total cholesterol of >200mg/dl is considered normal. Values between 200-239mg/dl indicate borderline cholesterol levels, while values >240 mg/dl indicate high total cholesterol levels.
2. Which foods quickly lower cholesterol?
Oatmeal and a diet high in fiber content can quickly lower your cholesterol levels. A low-fat diet and an unsaturated-fat diet also reduce cholesterol levels.
3. What is the best drink to lower cholesterol levels?
Citrus fruit juices like pomegranate, green tea, soy milk, and tomato juice may help reduce bad cholesterol levels immediately.