Your Quick Guide to Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that's found in all of your body's cells. It helps your body digest food and make hormones. Learn more about cholesterol, its role in the body, and how to lower your cholesterol with these quick tips.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance made by the liver. It is also found in some foods. Cholesterol is vital for many bodily functions, including making hormones and vitamin D.
Cholesterol is one of the most misunderstood compounds in the human body. It is an essential part of our diet and one of the main building blocks for our cells.
Types of Cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
LDL is often referred to as bad cholesterol (not that we like calling things 'bad' here ;) because it can build up in the walls of our arteries and cause heart disease. HDL is known as good cholesterol because it helps to remove LDL from our blood vessels.
Causes of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. The main reason for high cholesterol levels is the accumulation of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
The cholesterol level in the blood is controlled by the production of certain hormones produced by the liver.
High cholesterol can be caused due to various reasons, with a few of them explained below:
- A diet that includes saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol-rich foods may lead to high cholesterol levels.
- The body's inability to produce enough HDL (good) cholesterol may also lead to high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
- Having a family history of high cholesterol can also be a factor in us having high cholesterol ourselves.
How to Lower Your Risk of High Cholesterol
Here are some natural ways to help you reduce your LDL cholesterol levels and raise your good HDL cholesterol levels.
Eat more fibre-rich foods
You can start by adding more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes to your diet. Fibre is important for lowering LDL cholesterol levels because it helps the body get rid of fat in the gut and intestines.
Reduce saturated fats
Aim to swap out foods high in saturated fats (e.g., animal fats and fats that are solid at room temperature) with unsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts and fish oils. Saturated fat can raise LDL cholesterol levels while unsaturated fats lower them.
Specialty products like margarine with plant sterols can also help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood if consumed as recommended on the packaging.
Regular movement also helps reduce LDL cholesterol and increase those happy HDL cholesterol levels.
Moderating alcohol intake
Sorry to be a kill-joy here but moderating alcohol intake can positively affect our blood cholesterol levels by increasing HDL good cholesterol. Planning some alcohol-free days is a good idea.