Cholesterol is a lipid substance that is obtained from fatty foods and animal products. Food substances like fish, eggs, chicken, and milk products (cheese, high-fat milk) contain cholesterol in them. If we study cholesterol according to its chemical composition, we come to know that cholesterol has three basic components:
High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL)
High-density lipoprotein is often called good cholesterol by health care specialists as HDL contributes to maintaining various normal physiological functions of the body.
Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL)
Low-density lipoproteins are saturated fats and are not good for health. Thus, LDL is commonly referred to as bad cholesterol.
Triglycerides are an integral part of cholesterol chemical structure. High levels of triglycerides have a negative impact on overall health.
A high level of cholesterol is responsible for developing plaque in the arteries. This plaque deposits in the arteries and eventually narrows the bore of the arteries. This leads to a lack of blood supply to the heart and can lead to a heart attack eventually. Moreover, sometimes this attached plaque detaches and blocks the artery, reducing or blocking the blood supply to the heart, causing an emergency situation and even a heart attack sometimes. People with high blood cholesterol levels thus need treatment. Blood cholesterol-lowering medications are prescribed by healthcare specialists in such cases.
Tips for High Cholesterol Patients to Prevent Heart Attack
Eliminate Bad Fats from Your Diet
LDL,, or low-density lipoproteins, are the real culprits responsible for increasing blood cholesterol. Thus, to stay healthy, avoid all the saturated, and trans-fat-containing substances in your diet. Food items like margarine, bakery items, and fried junk food contain LDL. Red meat also contains some amounts of trans fat and LDL. People with high blood cholesterol levels should keep in check the consumption of whole milk, butter, cheese, non-dairy products, bakery items, and tropical oils; as all of these foods can increase the blood cholesterol level. You need to keep track of your total calorie intake per day to ensure positive health changes. According to a report published by the American Heart Association (AHA), fats should not be greater than 25 to 35 % of the total calories you eat per day.
Role of Omega Three Fatty Acids
Omega-three fatty acids are a natural defense of the body against rising blood cholesterol levels. They tend to decrease the number of triglycerides by 25 – 30 percent. Omega-three fatty acids also boost the level of LDL in the body. Our body cannot make omega-three fatty acids naturally, so we need to include in our diet food items containing high levels of omega-three fatty acids. Food items like salmon, fish oil supplements, canola oil, flaxseed oil, and walnuts are enriched with omega-three fatty acids. It is recommended that one should eat two servings of fish per week. Fish like salmon, trout, and sardines are preferable. Plant sources of omega-three fatty acids are also very good. Natural sources should be preferred over sources like fish oil capsules etc.
Work on High Fiber Intake
High fiber intake has a positive impact on improving the health condition of patients with high cholesterol. Fiber works by decreasing the absorption of cholesterol from the intestines. However, merely increasing fiber in your diet and not working on reducing cholesterol intake won’t help at all. You also need to cut down on your fatty food intake to achieve the desired results. Foods containing fiber are vegetables, fruits, bran, bananas, oatmeal, etc. Your daily diet must include portions of these fibers.
Role of Exercise
The importance of exercise in maintaining a healthy lifestyle cannot be overlooked. Cholesterol and fats in your body are burned by exercising and doing tasks requiring the rigorous use of force. Aerobic activity is considered best for people suffering from high cholesterol levels. You should exercise for 30 minutes every day, five days a week. Exercise also plays a role in reducing weight and burning extra fat in the body. Weight loss helps in boosting HDL levels. At the same time, regular exercise helps in decreasing LDL and triglyceride levels.
Monitor Alcohol Intake
The role of alcohol in dealing with high blood cholesterol levels is often confusing for cardiologists as well as patients. Several research reports show that alcohol has a positive correlation with HDL (good fats), which means that the intake of alcohol will prevent heart conditions and will also control blood cholesterol levels. However, it is important to keep in mind that a high intake of alcohol can increase the level of triglycerides in the body. Triglycerides in high amounts can also become a cause of liver problems. The risk is enhanced for patients depending on cholesterol-lowering medications to keep their cholesterol levels under control. Thus, before consuming alcohol, watch out for your triglyceride levels. If you already have a high triglyceride level, you need to check your alcohol intake. Minimize your alcohol intake to stay healthy. Another risk factor associated is your smoking habit. Smoking, by all definitions, is harmful to your heart. Smoking also decreases the levels of HDL (good fats), which in turn can increase the levels of LDL (bad fats). Thus, the overall impact of both smoking and consuming alcohol on high-cholesterol patients remains unclear.
High blood cholesterol levels, to conclude, are torchbearers to many other serious heart conditions. Everyone needs to control their lifestyle and make healthy changes to their diet plan to control their serum cholesterol concentration. Many of demographic reports show that the population of the United States is becoming more and more susceptible to heart diseases due to high blood cholesterol levels. The reason for this is the increased junk food consumption by the general population. One of the research reports, conducted on the population of Manhattan and Chelsea, shows that lifestyle changes like regular exercise and walking improved the blood cholesterol levels of a segment of people who incorporated thirty minutes of exercise as a mandatory task in their lives. Every individual should work on keeping his cholesterol levels low to live a healthy and active life.
– Disclaimer –
This blog is for informational & educational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any health related concerns, please consult with your physician, or call 911.
About The AuthorDr. Syra Hanif M.D.
Board Certified Primary Care Physician
Dr. Syra Hanif is a board-certified Primary Care Physician (PCP) dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered healthcare.Read More