World Heart Day: 5 lifestyle changes you should make to reduce cholesterol levels
Inculcating simple changes in one’s lifestyle can help reduce cholesterol. Here are a few ways you can get started on the right path towards a healthy heart.Updated: Sep 29, 2017 11:23 IST
It is an established fact that people with extremely high levels of good cholesterol have a higher mortality rate than those with normal levels. Moreover, if you have high cholesterol, your chances of getting a heart attack increase significantly. It also makes you susceptible to heart disease.
High cholesterol is often a silent killer. There are no signs in many cases, because of which the condition is not detected. On World Heart Day, we get doctors to share how you can reduce your cholesterol levels.
1. Eating foods for the heart:
It’s important to choose healthier fats. Saturated fats, which are present in red meat and dairy products, lead to a higher cholesterol level and the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Get rid of trans fats. They increase your bad cholesterol levels and lower the ‘good’ cholesterol. This raises the risk of heart attacks. Trans fats are present in fried foods.
Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids – they help in increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or ‘good’) cholesterol. This in turn helps in the reduction of triglycerides and blood pressure. Fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and hence should be consumed. Other ways of consuming omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseeds.
Consume foods rich in soluble fiber, which helps you in lowering LDL levels. You can include these in your diet by consuming oats, fruits, beans, lentils and vegetables.
The more you exercise, the more your cholesterol improves. There are various ways you can include physical activity in your daily schedule- walking, cycling, gymming and taking part in a sport. Make sure you work out at least 3-4 times a week.
3. Kick the butt
Quitting smoking will help in improving your HDL cholesterol level. Not only that, it also helps your blood pressure and heart beat. According Dr. Ambuj Roy, Additional Professor of Cardiology, AIIMS, New Delhi, “Smoking tobacco is the single most preventable cause for heart diseases. In India, over one million deaths occur due to tobacco consumption, the most common being those related to heart ailments. It is important to understand that heart failure is preventable if we manage its risk factors early and adequately. This includes optimum management of lifestyle factors - smoking, alcohol consumption, stress, lack of exercise and sleep, drug abuse and unhealthy eating habits – which in turn lead to conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.”
4. Lose excess weight
Being even a bit overweight can lead to high cholesterol. One effective and sensible way of losing weight is by studying your dietary habits and finding out where and how often you are going wrong. You need to start eating healthier snacks instead of just munching on chips and chocolates when hungry. There are healthier and tastier options out there – you can opt for carrot or cucumber strips with lime and chaat masala or a dip.
According to Dr. Shirish (M.S.) Hiremath, President, Cardiological Society of India, “The kind of fat we eat is of paramount importance. Saturated and trans fats increase blood cholesterol and gradually leads to heart diseases including failure. High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. Increasing your activity can help lower your cholesterol. Losing weight will help lower your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or ‘bad’ cholesterol and improve your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or ‘healthy’ cholesterol levels.”
5. Limit alcohol intake
As in everything, moderation is key. Drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the levels of blood lipid (fat) called triglycerides, which are also a risk factor in heart disease. Research has established that excessive intake of alcohol is directly linked to high cholesterol levels.
At times, lifestyle changes aren’t enough to control your cholesterol levels, in those instances you need to take the medication recommended by your doctor. But at the same time you need to continue with the lifestyle changes, so that it helps you even more.
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First Published: Sep 29, 2017 11:20 IST