It is well known that too much saturated fat in our diet and having high blood cholesterol levels is bad for our health. Making an effort to limit our intake of foods high in saturated fats is something that we should all be proactive in doing as it is a huge contributing factor in the development of various health conditions.
Why is Cholesterol Bad for Our Health?
Cholesterol plays a vital role in maintaining the normal functionality of the brain, nerves and sex hormones. However, too much of it and you are putting yourself at risk of developing various health condition such as gallstones, impotence, mental impairment and high blood pressure. High cholesterol causes a build-up of plaque in the arteries which can impede the blood flow to the brain, kidneys, genitals, extremities and heart, thereby increasing the risk of developing serious health conditions. From coronary heart disease to blood clots, high cholesterol poses risks that we should all make an effort to prevent.
The Good and the Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol is carried in your blood by two main types of lipoproteins. Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) are deemed ‘bad cholesterol’ as they are responsible for the transportation and depositing of cholesterol around the body. Conversely, high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) are deemed 'good cholesterol' because they play a vital role in carrying cholesterol away from the cells and towards the liver. Once cholesterol reaches the liver it is broken down and removed from the body. Unfortunately if there's too much cholesterol for the HDLs to pick up, plaque can form and can stick to the artery walls and lead to heart disease.
Tackling Bad Cholesterol with Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Cholesterol levels are affected by our genetic makeup but we can make positive changes by adapting our diet and lifestyle regime. Here are some changes you can make:
• Switch to a vegetarian or vegan
• Eat foods rich in fibre such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains especially oats, brown rice, barley and beans & pulses.
• Vitamins B and C can help to lower cholesterol so maximising your consumption of foods high in these is advisable.
• Supplements such as apple pectin, coenzyme Q10, garlic and lecithin are great at lowering cholesterol levels and helping to process fats
• Increase your intake of cholesterol-lowering foods such as apples, bananas, carrots, cold-water fish, dried beans, garlic, cayenne pepper, grapefruit, essential fatty acids and olive oil.
• Eliminate all hydrogenated fats and hardened fats such as margarine, lard and butter.
• Reduce/eliminate consumption of coffee & alcohol.
• Do not smoke.
• Do not smoke.
• Take regular exercise.
• Manage your stress levels.Read more about how stress can affect your health here.
These are just a few of the myriad ways in which you can help to lower your cholesterol however there is plenty more that you can do. Contact me if you would like to learn more about how you can lower your cholesterol levels and improve your health and well-being.