Cholesterol is a natural component in everyone’s blood and supports the normal function of cell membranes, hormone levels, and more. However, having too much is considered a major risk factor for heart attack, heart disease, and stroke. How exactly does cholesterol build up in the blood and how to reduce it?
What is high cholesterol?
High cholesterol is when you have too much of a fatty substance called cholesterol in your blood. Cholesterol is made in your liver and has many important functions. For example, it helps keep the walls of your cells flexible and is needed to make several hormones.
However, like anything in the body, too much cholesterol creates concerns. It's mainly caused by eating fatty food, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol. It can also run in families.
To assess your cholesterol level, your doctor will usually ask for a simple blood test called a lipoprotein profile. The lipoprotein profile evaluates the following: LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called "bad" cholesterol) HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called "good" cholesterol).
How to manage and/or reduce cholesterol levels?
Healthy lifestyle choices can help turn the tide in your favor. You can lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise. Some people also need to take medicine. Too much cholesterol can block your blood vessels. It makes you more likely to have heart problems or a stroke.
Here are the top tips to reduce blood cholesterol numbers to a desirable range:
- Reduce Saturated Fats
Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products, raise your total cholesterol. Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the "bad" cholesterol.
- Eliminate Trans Fats (often found in refined vegetable oils)
Trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil," are often used in margarine and store-bought cookies, crackers, and cakes. Trans fats raise overall cholesterol levels.
- Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids don't affect LDL cholesterol. But they have other heart-healthy benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
- Increase Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples, and pears.
- Add a Clean Whey Protein
Whey protein, which is found in dairy products, may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure.
Make sure to check our Low Cholesterol section on our website for some healthy foods and snacks!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Mint Basil Market team.