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  • DietMi Team

High Cholesterol | 6 Ways To Lower High Cholesterol

The reason you're reading this is probably that you're concerned about your health and the role cholesterol can have in it. That's a good first step.



What is cholesterol? Exactly what does it do?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance. Your body needs it to build cells, make vitamins, and make hormones. The problem can arise when cholesterol levels are too high.


There are two sources of cholesterol. The cholesterol that you need is made by your liver. The remaining cholesterol in your body comes from animal products. For example, meat, poultry, and dairy products. Saturated fats found in tropical oils, such as palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil, can increase the level of bad cholesterol in the body. It is common to find these oils in baked goods.


High cholesterol

A high cholesterol level means that you have too much cholesterol in your blood. Several factors are responsible for it, including eating fatty foods, not exercising enough, being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol. Also, it can be passed down from generation to generation. The most effective way to lower cholesterol is to eat healthily and exercise more. Some people need to take medicine.


Having too much cholesterol can lead to blood vessel blockages. It increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. There are no symptoms associated with high cholesterol. Testing your blood for it is the only way to find out if you have it.


Check if you have high cholesterol

There are no symptoms associated with high cholesterol. A blood test is the only way to find out if you have it. If your doctor thinks your cholesterol level may be high, they may suggest a test. The reason for this may be your age, weight, or another health condition (like high blood pressure or diabetes).


Ask your doctor for a cholesterol test if:
  • Your age is over 40, you are overweight, or you have a family history of heart disease.

  • The chances of you having high cholesterol are higher.


What your cholesterol result says

The following can be measured by a cholesterol test:

  • Total cholesterol – total quantity of cholesterol in your body, including "good" cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol.

  • Total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio (TC:HDL) – percentage of good cholesterol in your blood compared to total cholesterol.

  • Good cholesterol (called HDL) – it reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • Bad cholesterol (called LDL and non-HDL) – this increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • Triglycerides – a fatty substance similar to bad cholesterol.


Check what your cholesterol levels should be

This is just a guide. The levels you should aim for might be different. Ask your doctor or nurse what your levels should be.


Total Cholesterol

Desirable<200 mg/dl, Borderline high- 200-240 mg/dl, High >240 mg/dl

HDL Cholesterol

40 - 60 mg/dl

LDL Cholesterol

Optimal < 100 mg/dl, Above optimal - 100 to 129 mg/dl, Borderline high - 130 to 159 mg/dl, High - 160 to 189 mg/dl, Very high - >190 mg/dl

VLDL Cholesterol

< 30 mg/dl

Non-HDL Cholesterol

<140 mg/dl

Triglycerides

< 150 mg/dl, Borderline high - 150 to 199 mg/dl, High - 200 to 499 mg/dl, Very High ->500 mg/dl

Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio

< 4.5

LDL/HDL Ratio

<3.5



Here are some ways to lower your cholesterol.
  1. Make sure you eat these foods more.

  2. Make sure you eat these foods less.

  3. Exercise More.

  4. Stop smoking.

  5. Reduce alcohol consumption.

  6. Cholesterol-lowering medicines.

Reduce the amount of fat you eat. Try reducing your fat intake, especially saturated fats, to reduce your cholesterol. Unsaturated fats are better for you than saturated fats.


1. Make sure you eat more:
  • Oily fish, like mackerel and salmon

  • Brown rice (if it is recommended for you), whole grain bread, and wholewheat pasta

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Fruits and vegetables


2. Make sure you eat less:
  • Meat pies, sausages, and fatty meat.

  • Butter, lard, and ghee.

  • Cream and hard cheeses, like cheddar.

  • Cakes and biscuits.

  • Food that contains coconut oil or palm oil.


3. Exercise more
  • Get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week (2.5 hours).

  • The following are some good things to try when starting out:

  • Walking – try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating faster

  • Swimming

  • Cycling


4. Stop smoking

Smoking increases cholesterol levels and increases your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.


5. Reduce alcohol consumption

Try to:

  • Limit your alcohol consumption to 14 units per week.

  • Several days a week should be spent without alcohol.

  • Whenever possible, avoid drinking a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time (binge drinking).


6. Cholesterol-lowering medicines.

Medications may be needed to lower your cholesterol if:

  • After changing your diet and lifestyle, your cholesterol level has not decreased.

  • There is a high risk that you will suffer a heart attack or stroke.

Consult your doctor about the medicines you can take.

Statins

High cholesterol is most commonly treated with statins. They reduce the amount of cholesterol your body produces. A tablet is taken once a day. They are usually lifelong medications.

There are other medicines for high cholesterol

These include:

Ezetimibe, fibrates, bile acid sequestrants (also called resins), and bempedoic acid

Injections – such as alirocumab, evolocumab and inclisiran.



Summary

You're always at risk if you have high levels of bad cholesterol. The best way to lower your cholesterol is through lifestyle modifications, including changes/modifications in your diet and a more active life. If the lifestyle modifications fail, you can start the cholesterol-lowering medications under the guidance of your doctor. Starting medicines doesn't mean you can eat anything you want and can have a sedentary lifestyle. You should continue to have a healthy diet and a more active lifestyle to keep your heart healthy.


 

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