The lifestyle of today is such that people always have too many balls in the air and are competing with time. However, that is no excuse to eat junk food on the go all the time. It leads to obesity and high cholesterol levels which are harmful for health. Even though awareness regarding this has been generated, the number of people suffering from high cholesterol has continues to increase steadily over the years. High cholesterol can easily be managed by following a few basic rules. Read on, before it’s too late.

1) Diet: The types of food you eat and they way they’re prepared can have an immense effect on the cholesterol levels in your body. Certain food themselves contain cholesterol which are known as dietary cholesterol. Some examples of such foods are kidneys, eggs and prawns. However, the as compared to saturated fats, cholesterol found in such food has much less effect on the level of cholesterol in your blood. It is essential to cut down on saturated fats in order to reduce your cholesterol levels.

i. Fats and Cholesterol : Saturated and unsaturated are the two main types of fat. Consuming foods that are high in saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels in the blood. Foods high in saturated fat include ghee, cheese, cream, cakes, biscuits, fatty cuts of meat and foods containing coconut or palm oil. Unsaturated fat can actually help in reducing cholesterol levels. Foods high in unsaturated fats include oily fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils and spreads. As nuts are high in calories, only a handful is enough per serving. Include nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts etcetera. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which are very good for the heart. Finally, reduce the total amount of fat in your diet by avoiding fried and roasted foods. Steam, boil or grill your food. If you must use oil, use olive oil.

ii. Fiber and cholesterol: The two different types of fiber are soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber can be digested by your body whereas insoluble fiber cannot. Foods containing soluble fiber include oats, beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas and of course, fruits and vegetables. Bananas are an excellent source of fiber. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.

iii. Another important point to be considered is the size of the portion being consumed. Try to eat 5 balanced meals, containing small portions, a day. Reducing your intake of caffeine can also help in lowering your cholesterol levels.

2) Exercise: Studies have shown that exercising even 3 times a week can reduce your cholesterol levels. The best form of exercise is to go for long walks. It doesn’t require anything and can be done anytime, even in between your work. If you are looking more vigorous activities then you can try cycling, running, dancing and go to the gym. The most important thing is to enjoy what you do.

3) Drink Water: Try to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day as drinking more water keeps the body fitter as it reduces fats. Our kidneys also do not function properly if adequate amount of water is not supplied. Moreover, it also eliminates water retention properly. It makes the endocrine gland function properly which helps in balancing our body’s electrolytes, minerals such as sodium, chloride and potassium, which regulate body temperature and control blood pressure. Finally, it helps in the transportation of water-soluble vitamins and nutrients such as protein, minerals and vitamins across the body.

4) Quit Smoking: Smoking not only increases the LDL (low density lipoproteins, the bad cholesterol, while decreasing HDL (high density lipoproteins), the good cholesterol levels. This damages the arteries. The nicotine in cigarettes can also lead to heart palpitations. Smoking also makes the blood stickier by raising fibrinogen levels and platelet counts. Carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke also raises blood cholesterol levels. Research has found that giving up smoking leads to the rising of the HDL levels and depleting of the LDL levels. Within 24 hours of quitting, risk of a heart attack subsides. Due to all the above, it is proven that it makes sense to quit smoking.

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