High cholesterol is not something that only overweight adults experience. A large part of the population, as well as children have shown higher cholesterol levels than normal.
High cholesterol combined with excess weight, smoking, lack of exercise and high blood pressure, increases significantly the risk of serious illnesses such as heart diseases and strokes. The good news are that there are ways that you can actually lower your cholesterol naturally without the use of any medication.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance which exists in the blood. It plays an important role in hormone production, transporting fat in various parts of the body and in the creation of vitamin D that is essential for strong teeth and bones.
Most of the cholesterol is produced by our liver from the food we consume with only a small amount being absorbed directly from cholesterol-rich foods (eggs, shellfish, etc.). There are two main types of blood cholesterol, HDL and LDL. HDL is known as “good” cholesterol, having a protective effect on the heart and circulatory system.
It removes harmful lipids away from the arteries and back to the liver. In contrast, LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, transports fatty deposits in tissues and encourages the creation of fat accumulation in the arteries.
As a result it creates atherosclerosis, i.e. narrowing of the arteries, reducing blood flow, and finally increases the risk for cardiovascular diseases that can lead death.
That is why it is important that you have medical checks regularly and if necessary, follow these simple tips:
1. Follow a healthier diet and start a renewed and more active lifestyle that will lead to weight loss. This way you also protect yourself from heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.
2. The antioxidant properties found in green tea can help with protecting your heart. Thus it is a good idea to have green tea instead of any other beverage. Antioxidants are also abundant in red wine, therefore it is recommended to have 1 small glass daily.
3. Reduce the saturated-animal fats: These are found mainly in red meat and dairy products, as well as cakes, cookies, chips, crisps and pastry. These foods are the worst choice you can make for your health since they increase your cholesterol levels.
4. It is highly recommended that you have fish, legumes and white meat as your protein source and also having skimmed milk products.
5. As a primary source of fat use olive oil, this reduces the LDL and generally contributes to the proper treatment of heart disease. Note though that all fats are high in calories, so they should be consumed in moderation!
Choose foods that help fight cholesterol.
-Eat daily at least 5 servings of fruits or vegetables. The antioxidant and vitamins they contain have a protective effect against cholesterol. Moreover, antioxidants fight free radicals that harden the arteries.
-consume legumes and cereals such as oats (Quaker oats, Muesli), brown rice and generally fiber (e.g. all wheat bread) that will help you to lower cholesterol.
-Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, sea bream, mackerel and trout, should be present in our nutrition two or three times a week, because they contain omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for our health since they have antithrombotic properties ( i.e. prevent curdling of the blood which can lead to blocked artery and stop the blood circulation).
-Add to your meals onion and garlic, which according to research have a positive effect on your heart’s health.
-Try to use often tomato sauce with olive oil in your cooking in order to increase lycopene intake in your nutrition which is a strong antioxidant herbal substance.
Eat foods that will boost up your energy Level.
Foods that contain complex carbohydrates, for example all wheat bread, rice paddy, breakfast cereals with fiber will give you a steady release of energy throughout the day. By doing this you will fight the ups and downs in your blood glucose (sugar) level in your blood, that lead to over consumption of sweets and fatty foods.
Try different sports or activities until you find something you really enjoy. Find someone in your close environment to accompany you and encourage one another. Gradually increase the level of exercise. Include in your routine small everyday activities like climbing stairs and walking a little bit.
Also avoid using the car for short distances and reduce the hours of watching TV, etc. Remember that all this should be done gradually and always aiming to permanently change our small bad habits and start a new and more positive lifestyle.
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