- High cholesterol can put you at a risk of several heart diseases
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle
- Learn to manage stress levels
Cholesterol is made in your liver and has a vital role in performing many important functions. Your body needs cholesterol to but excess amounts of cholesterol in your blood, it can stick to the walls of your arteries and narrow or even block them. This can have an adverse effect on your health. High cholesterol can put you at a risk of several heart diseases and heart attacks. Unhealthy weight gain, poor eating habits and lack of physical activity can raise your cholesterol levels. However, some medications can help improve your cholesterol. But some lifestyle changes can help lower your cholesterol. Lifestyle changes like diet and regular physical exercise can help improve your cholesterol levels and your overall health.
Effective ways by which you can manage your cholesterol levels:
1. Monounsaturated fats:
Fist of all one should understand that all fats are not bad for your health. Saturated fats and trans fats are unhealthy and therefore should be taken in limited quantities. Monounsaturated fats like those in olive oil, sunflower oil, lean meat, canola oil, some healthy nuts and seeds avocados reduce the "bad" LDL and increase the "good" HDL and reduce the oxidation that contributes to clogged arteries.
2. Quit smoking:
Smoking can increase bad lipoproteins and decrease "good" HDL. They can also hinder the body's ability to send cholesterol back to the liver to be stored or broken down. Therefore, if you quit smoking it can help in lowering your cholesterol.
Physical activity is extremely important in all the walks of life. It helps boost stamina, improve your mood and keep chronic diseases at bay. Walking, jogging, cycling, aerobics, yoga and swimming some sort of exercises should be done to lower the cholesterol and eventually improve your heart health.
4. Lose weight:
Another important lifestyle change for lowering your cholesterol levels is maintaining a healthy weight. Weight management is essential for the overall health. To shed those extra kilos you must keep a constant check on your diet, calorie intake and the amount of physical exercise you do. Eat lots of proteins and fruits and vegetables as they help in curbing your hunger pangs.
5. Healthy diet:
A well-balanced and nourishing diet is very important for reducing the cholesterol levels. Your diet should include lots of soluble fibre and proteins. Eat a variety of whole grains cereals like oatmeal and oat bran and fruits like apples, oranges, prunes and pears. Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans should all be eaten as these are heart-friendly foods.
Delhi-based nutritionist Pooja Malhotra gives some tips for maintaining a healthy heart:
- adopting an overall healthy lifestyle
- quit smoking
- limit alcohol intake
- quit labour saving devices, exercise regularly, walk a few extra steps, take the stairs instead of elevator
- cut out trans fat completely, limit intake of saturated fat
- adopt a flexetarian approach. If you are a meat-eater, limit intake of non veg to twice a week, opt for lean cuts
- limit sodium intake
- avoid table salt
- avoid smoked meats, salt preserved foods like pickles, chutneys etc
- avoid namkeens, potato chips, salted nuts, popcorn
- avoid bakery items - baking soda gives u extra sodium
- avoid ajinomoto (mono sodium glutamate)
- avoid foods containing sodium benzoate as a preservative
- learn to manage stress levels
(Pooja Malhotra is a nutritionist based in Delhi)
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.