Cholesterol is a fat-like substance present in the body. It can be created in two ways – production by the liver and the consumption of certain foods. Cholesterol is not bad as it assists in the body’s regular functioning in many ways. It helps in the production of many hormones like testosterone and progesterone and acts as the building block for cell membranes.
It is important to know which cholesterol does these functions for better understanding. Cholesterol is of two types – Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) also called ‘bad’ cholesterol and High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) also called ‘good’ cholesterol.
While HDL helps in better functioning of the body, LDL does the opposite. High levels of LDL cause stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. So, our main goal is to reduce LDL, which is the ‘bad’ cholesterol in our body.
Take a Good Amount of Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
Commonly known as MUFA and PUFA, these fats have a positive effect on our bodies. They increase the amount of HDL and decrease inflammation, which often leads to stroke. MUFA also improves the production of insulin, which in turn controls the blood sugar level. PUFA is also important for brain and muscle function. MUFA and PUFA can be found in foods like olive oil, canola oil, avocados, and nuts like almonds and cashew nuts.
Reduce or Avoid the Consumption of Trans Fat
Trans fat is a component obtained by a manufacturing process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is a widely used process in the food industry to extend the shelf-life of products. While MUFA and PUFA work in a way to enhance the body’s functioning, trans fat does the opposite. It decreases the level of HDL and increases the level of LDL, which paves the way for cardiovascular diseases. It is advisable to limit the intake of foods like frozen pizza, cakes, cookies, and fried foods to reduce the risk of increased cholesterol levels in the body.
Soluble Fiber to the Rescue
Soluble fiber is a type of dietary fiber, a component in plant foods, that are difficult to break down by our digestive system. This fiber dissolves in your bloodstream and binds with the cholesterol in the body. This prevents cholesterol from accumulating in our bodies and thus, decreasing the levels in the body. Foods like apples, barley, beans, oats, and citrus fruits are rich in soluble fiber.
Exercising Plays a Vital Role
The American Heart Association (AHA) advises people to exercise for at least 150 minutes every week. Regular exercise can decrease LDL and increase HDL levels in the body. It is also found that people with obesity can reduce their cholesterol levels through exercise. Simple exercises like walking, jogging, yoga, and cycling can do the trick.