Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that is needed by our cells to function properly. Though our body can produce its cholesterol, we often get some of it from our diet.
Our poor diets and exercising habits are often the primary cause of increased cholesterol levels in the body beyond what is needed.
Increased or high cholesterol in the body blocks the arteries and impedes blood flow leading to dangerous blood clots and inflammation. High cholesterol is a leading cause of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, etc.
Today, we will discuss safe foods that can be eaten and habits that will help normalise our cholesterol for effective cholesterol management.
Healthy high cholesterol foods
Not all cholesterol is bad for the body. There are foods that are high in cholesterol and are actually good for the body and safe to eat in moderate amounts. It is those that cause inflammation that does the most damage to the body because they can trigger a cholesterol spike. Healthy high-cholesterol foods include:
- Grass-fed beef
- Organ meats
- Shell fishes e.g crambs, clams, shrimps, etc.
- Dark chocolate
- Full fat cheese
- Full fat yoghurt
- Sardines, etc.
Foods that trigger cholesterol Increase
- Canola oil and other processed oils e.g vegetable oils
- Potato chips and other packed foods
- Bacon and other processed meatse.g sausages
- Fried foods
- Fast/junk foods
- Desserts e.g ice-creams, pastries, sweets, cakes, etc.
- Fatty red meat cuts
- Unhealthy fasts e.g lard, margarine, shortenings, etc.
- High-sugar foods e.g soda, lemonade, kool-aid, smoothies,etc. This includes foods with natural sugar
Foods that lower high cholesterol
Among the foods that lower high cholesterol in the body are foods with high soluble fiber content. They absorb the excess cholesterol and pass it out of the body before it gets digested and affects the cholesterol levels in the body. Cholesterol-lowering foods include:
- Fishes e.g salmon, ring, mackerel, etc.
- High-fiber foods e.g oats, fonio, beans, barley, psyllium, whole grains, etc.
- Nuts and seeds e.g chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, etc.
- Wholesome fats e.g avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oils, etc.
- Vegetables e.g. broccoli, dark green vegetables, moringa leaves, brussel sprouts, etc.
- Fruits e.g Figs, blueberries, oranges, etc.
How to reduce high cholesterol
A lifestyle and diet improvement is usually the long-lasting and healthy solution to high cholesterol levels in the body. A drug or pill can only do so much before it starts to negatively affect your health. Here are what you need to do to keep your cholesterol under control:
Lose weight: A healthy weight loss if overweight or managing your weight well is one of the first things that a doctor usually recommends for high cholesterol patients. The excess body fat when overweight is associated with heart diseases and reduced healthy cholesterol in the body
Quit smoking and Alcohol: Unhealthy habits such as these are well recognized for increasing cholesterol in the body. Especially smoking, it needs to be stopped immediately while alcohol should be taken in small amounts not more than one drink for women and 2 for men in a day.
Take your vitamins: Vitamins such as K2 and magnesium are found to be very helpful in managing high cholesterol. K2 helps remove plaque that sometimes clogs the arteries like cholesterol while magnesium is known to reduce inflammation in the body which is a known trigger for high cholesterol.
It is best if you incorporate foods that are high in K2 (cheese, whole milk, grass-fed beef, etc.) and magnesium (sesame seeds, dark green vegetables, black beans, avocado, banana, etc.) into your diet instead of taking bottled supplements
Eat well: Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best things that you can do when managing high cholesterol. Your diet must consist of a generous serving of fruits, vegetables, and fiber every day. Avoid all the things that are mentioned above that spike cholesterol levels in the body.
Exercise every day: Exercise is important to our health when we have high cholesterol irrespective of our weight. We should remember that exercise is not about going to the gym but making effort to have enough physical movements that will keep us healthy.
Brisk walking, jogging, swimming, walking to your place of work, etc. are all good options. Exercises are most effective when paired with a good diet. For high cholesterol, high-intensity workouts are preferred
Only about 25% of the cholesterol needed in the body is from our diet. The body produces the rest which is why we need to be careful with our diet so that we don’t eat more cholesterol than necessary leading to high-cholesterol linked diseases.
Using the simple advice above, you can safely manage your condition without reliance on drugs for relief. It is very important that you improve your diet and lifestyle else, no drug can cure consistently.
I wish you the best. If you have anything you wish to ask or let me know, I will see you in the comments section below. Bye for now! 🙂