Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in the body. It is manufactured in the body but can also be ingested from food (mostly animal derived foods). About 75% of cholesterol in the body is manufactured by the body while the remaining 25% is ingested. Cholesterol is essential in the body for its function in food digestion, producing hormones, and generating vitamin D. The fact is that despite all its functions, high level of cholesterol in the blood is dangerous and could trigger a heart attack or stroke. The worst part is that there is no known symptom for high cholesterol hence it is often called the silent-killer. In this post, we will get to know those healthy food diets that can reduce cholesterol in the body.
High cholesterol is a silent killer that should not be ignored or taken lightly at all. It triggers a lot of heart related diseases worst of which could be a ghastly heart attack. In addition, high cholesterol narrows the arteries and causes restriction of blood flow. High cholesterol could also be triggered by existing health conditions such as diabetes, pregnancy, liver/kidney disease, under active thyroid gland, etc.
The best remedy for high cholesterol is a total lifestyle change especially with regards to diet. Aside from a change in diet, the following are advised:
- Engage in physical activity: constantly engage the body in physical activity. Research shows that people who are less physically active run a higher risk of high cholesterol in their body. Try to engage your body in activities like swimming, walking, riding bikes, dancing, and any other activity that involves little or no time for sitting around idly.
- Daily exercise (at least one hour per day): it is no secret that exercising frequently increases life span and promotes good health. The case is no different from High cholesterol. Obese people alongside physically inactive people have higher risk of a high cholesterol level. This is why regular exercise is recommended so that it not only aids weight loss but also lowers cholesterol and guarantees overall good health. The recommended time is at least one hour daily. The intensity of your routine should be based on your doctor’s recommendation.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks and smoking: this will be a good time to quit smoking if you were already a smoker. Alcohol and smoke are BAD not only for your cholesterol levels but for your entire wellbeing (especially for your cardiovascular health). If you can’t quit entirely then consciously cut your intake down within reason. If you slowly cut down your intake, within a few weeks you’ll find that your craving for them will equally reduce to the point where you can easily quit.
GETTING STARTED ON YOUR DIET
If you already have high cholesterol, there are things you should consider before going on a diet. Many meal plans are filled with foods that are not compliant for you based on your cholesterol level. The first thing to do is to consult with your doctor (preferably a nutritionist) to review any diet you’ve decide on along with any exercise routine you intend on taking on.
The best diet to lower cholesterol should
- Include food rich in fiber
- Allow for foods rich in antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables
- Lower intake of foods rich in trans fat
- Avoid saturated fat
- Limit consumption of animal based foods
- Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
It’s best to eat the following foods not just to lower cholesterol but for an overall healthy life span;
- Salmon and fatty fish
- Nuts (walnuts and almond nuts)
- Amala (popular in Yoruba parts of Nigeria)
- Tuwo (popular in Hausa parts of Nigeria)
- Olive oil
- Green tea
- Whole/unprocessed grains
FOODS TO AVOID OR LIMIT
- Fried foods
- Simple sugars
- Saturated oils
- High fat processed meats
- Pasta (noodles/spaghetti)
Eating a particular type of food or avoiding it does not automatically lower your cholesterol level but contributes greatly towards that aim. You need to do the rest of the work while constantly consulting with your doctor with regards to any observation or challenge you may have. It is advisable to check your cholesterol level at intervals just to be on the safe side. Keep in mind that high cholesterol almost never has any symptoms.