Twelve Point Plan for Lowering Cholesterol
What exactly is cholesterol? We all know that it’s bad if we have too much of it but how many of us know that it’s something we need too?
Well it’s actually a wax-like substance made by the liver …it then links to carrier proteins called lipoproteins that let it dissolve in blood and be transported to all parts of the body as required. Too much cholesterol can lead to increased/abnormal water retention which can lead to raised blood pressure along with gallstones and coronary heart disease.
Cholesterol is vital for:
:: Healthy function and integrity of cell membranes in the body.
:: Supporting the kidneys in regulating water balance in the body.
:: Formation of the sex hormones.
:: Activating synthesis of vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) and bile salts.
:: Creation of the myelin sheath in the nervous system.
So let’s take a look at the different types of cholesterol…
First up, ‘Bad’ Cholesterol
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) is often referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol.
This is because low density lipoprotein carry cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. When there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, it can be deposited on the walls of the coronary arteries.
…and then there’s ‘Good’ Cholesterol
High-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol is often referred to as ‘good’ cholesterol.
HDL carry cholesterol from the blood back to the liver, which processes the cholesterol for elimination from the body. HDL makes it less likely that excess cholesterol in the blood will be deposited in the coronary arteries.
In most instances, the higher your LDL and the lower your HDL, the greater the risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease.
…and not forgetting the ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ Fats
One of the most important determinants of blood cholesterol level is specific types of fat. Some fats are good for cholesterol levels though, so don’t jump on the ‘I’m on the no-fat diet’ band wagon, because our bodies need fat for lots of reasons.
Firstly, the good guys:
:: Unsaturated …found in: Oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, sunflower/rapeseed/olive oils)
:: Polyunsaturated …found in: Oily fish, nuts and seeds, walnuts, soyabean/corn/safflower oils
:: Essential fatty acids …found in: Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, hempseeds and hempseed oil, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, avocados, some dark leafy green vegetables (eg, kale, spinach), wheatgerm oil, oily fish, eg, salmon, mackerel and sardines
And those to steer clear of:
:: Saturated …found in: High fat meats, butter, ghee, lard, cream, hard cheese, pastries, cakes
:: Hyrdrogenated/Trans fats …found in: Biscuits, cakes, ice cream, chips, crisps, fried fast foods.
So what can you do?
In a word …lots.
Genetic factors may not be as important as we once thought likely: Jeanne M. McCaffery and Michael F. Pogue-Geile at the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburg conducted research on identical twins who differed the most in their dietary intake had corresponding differences in blood cholesterol measures, showing that the association between diet and cholesterol levels was independent of genetic factors.
More evidence that:
:: Food is powerful (and can be our medicine).
:: When we are accountable for our health, then we’re capable of making significant improvements that create optimal health …something that we all want, and are capable of achieving.
Twelve Point Plan to Take Charge and Reduce Cholesterol from Today…
1. Reduce stress levels …it actually increases ‘bad’ cholesterol.
2. Quit smoking (including both first and second hand smoke) because it increases ‘bad’ cholesterol and reduces good cholesterol.
3. Eliminate animal fats and dairy products.
4. Avoid processed foods and products that contain hydrogenated or trans-fats.
5. Increase intake of essential fats; Omega 3, 6 and 9 by including oily fish (eg, mackerel, salmon, trout, herring, sardines) along with nuts and seeds including flax seeds and walnuts, plus avocados, olive oil, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
6. Eliminate refined carbohydrates including all white flour products eg, breads, cakes, biscuits.
7. Reduce sugar and salt in the diet. If you do use a little salt use a good quality mineralised option such as Himalayan or sea salt.
8. If eating eggs, buy organic and/or those containing omega 3 fats and either boil or poach (rather than frying).
9. Increase soluble fibre in the diet: Soluble fibre actually lowers cholesterol because it binds to bile salts and prevents their re-absorption.
Soluble fibre dissolves in water and has the consistency of gel. It is found in varying quantities in all plant foods including:
:: Vegetables (including peas, soya beans and pulses)
:: Whole grains (including brown rice, buckwheat, wholemeal cereals and whole wheat flour)
:: Some fruits and juices (including strawberries, pears, prunes, plums, apples, citrus fruit and berries)
:: Vegetables (including broccoli, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions)
10. Increase physical activity in your daily routine …it increases ‘good’ cholesterol and decreases ‘bad’ cholesterol.
11. Reduce or limit alcohol consumption along with caffeinated drinks including coffee and fizzy drinks (excluding green tea which actually helps to reduce cholesterol).
12. Add probiotics to your diet …good bacteria helps to lower blood cholesterol levels by binding fat and cholesterol in the intestines.
This might all seem a little overwhelming at first but small tweaks and changes can have a huge impact, so start by changing just one thing and get comfortable with that before making a second small change and so on…
Always consult your doctor. Cholesterol lowering drugs often play an important role in an action plan to reduce cholesterol, and combined with nutritional and lifestyle changes like those listed above, you’ll be covering all bases and so will be more likely to the results you’re looking for.
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