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How to reduce cholesterol

Cholesterol, the most important sterol in the body is a vital  molecule that performs very important functions in our bodies.

Functions of Cholesterol

• Helps build new tissue and repair damage to existing tissue
• Produce steroid hormones  (estrogen, testosterone)
• Aids in the production of bile
• Aids in production of vitamin D in the presence of sunlight.
• Read more:

Facts about Cholesterol

• Cholesterol is not a disease.
• The only place we don’t want cholesterol is the blood stream because it ends up promoting atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
• Cholesterol is not found in peanut or olive oil.
• Our body can make all the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol that comes from food is called dietary cholesterol.
• Cholesterol is nutritionally non-essential.
• The rate of dietary cholesterol absorption varies individually from 20% to 80%.
• Intake of sugar, saturated fats and trans fat increase blood cholesterol.
• Intake of pure dietary cholesterol may not necessarily increase blood cholesterol.
This is why eating 4 slices of white bread can end up raising blood cholesterol than 4 boiled eggs (not fried).

Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called “lipoproteins.” These lipoproteins mainly transport and deliver cholesterol.
Types of lipoproteins
• Low density lipoproteins
• High density lipoproteins.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
LDLs are referred to as ‘bad cholesterol’.
They are small, dense and rich in cholesterol. LDLs deliver both dietary and liver-made cholesterol from the liver to other cells in the body. One of the issues we have as humans is that we don’t have a very efficient way of removing LDL from the blood. So in a case when there is excess LDL in the blood stream,  they deposit cholesterol in the arteries walls as plaques (atherosclerosis) causing the arteries to be hardened and narrowed, slowing down blood flow to the heart causing chest pain and if completely blocked can lead to heart attack.

*To know your LDL level, you can take a blood test.

How to read your cholesterol values:

High density lipoproteins (HDL)
They are very small, dense and rich in protein. They are referred to as ‘good cholesterol’. HDL scavenge excess cholesterol from the cells in our body, other circulatory lipoproteins and the walls of our arteries and bring it back to the liver for disposal. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

What can influence LDL cholesterol level

How to lower or prevent LDL Cholesterol

• Avoid foods with added sugars – these foods induce insulin production which increase cholesterol synthesis.
• Avoid foods with trans fat and saturated fats. These foods increase LDL cholesterol by inhibiting LDL receptor activity and enhancing apolipoprotein (apo)B-containing lipoprotein production. These foods include (commercial baked goods, fried foods, refrigerated dough, frozen pizza, non-dairy creamer).
• Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (mackerel, salmon, walnut, chia seeds, flax seeds).
• Eat more of soluble fiber and plant sterols (found in nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes) – these prevents bile salts from recycling, forcing  the liver to produce new ones which ultimately lowers blood cholesterol.
• Engage more in exercise
• Avoid alcohol and smoking
• Lose weight and maintain a healthy weight
• Limit animal fats
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