How to achieve a low cholesterol lifestyle
While maintaining healthy cholesterol levels has long been seen as important for the older generation, more and more young people are being troubled by high cholesterol levels and the effect of these high levels on their bodies. Even a slightly abnormal cholesterol level in young adults under the age of 30 can result in an increased risk of developing early signs of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems before the age of 45.
Effect of ‘bad’ cholesterol
When talking about the effects of high cholesterol on the body, the primary culprit is LDL cholesterol, commonly referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) present in the bloodstream in high levels can begin to build up on the interior walls of the arteries and eventually affect the blood flow to the major vessels of the body, including the brain and the heart.
Low cholesterol lifestyle: diet plus exercise
Before a doctor recommends a patient with a high cholesterol level to buy Lipitor or any other cholesterol-lowering medication, he or she will focus on shaping a low cholesterol lifestyle for the patient.
When it comes to diet, cutting back on saturated fats and trans fats is the most important step to take; however, the addition of several different foods to the diet can also help to decrease the level of LDL and increase the positive effects of the ‘good’ cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
Soluble fiber not only reduces the level of LDL cholesterol in the body but also reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream by helping to speed up the journey of the food through the body. Oatmeal and oat bran are two of the highest sources of soluble fiber; other good sources include kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes.
Good fats are an important part of the diet and are necessary to maintain the proper cholesterol balance in the body. Olive oil has long been regarded as one of the most heart-healthy sources of healthy fats; the potent antioxidant mix in olive oil not only lowers LDL levels but also spares HDL cholesterol. Extra virgin olive oil contains the most antioxidants, as it is the least processed of the olive oils. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are primarily contained in fish, play a very important role in reducing blood pressure and lowering the risk of developing blood clots. Eating at least two servings of foods rich in omega-3 each week can have a powerful effect on cholesterol levels; mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon are all omega-3 rich foods.
In addition to diet, exercise plays an important part in a low cholesterol lifestyle. Maintaining a regular exercise program helps to lower the levels of triglycerides in the body, high levels of which can lead to coronary artery disease and raised levels of HDL. The frequency of exercise and the total time spent are more important than how intense the exercise is. A combination of aerobics to get the heart rate up, strength training to build muscle and stretching exercises to maintain flexibility throughout the body is the best way to stay fit and healthy.