Health & Medical Diseases & Conditions

Can Changing Your Diet Really Lower Your Cholesterol?

Cholesterol plays an important part in ensuring the body is kept healthy. However if too much harmful cholesterol is produced then the risk of heart disease is greatly increased.
There are two types of cholesterol,

LDL which is low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and can be harmful
HDL is high-density lipoprotein and is cholesterol which is helpful in maintaining health.

There are certain predisposing factors to having high levels of cholesterol in the body; these include heredity factors such as a condition called familial hyperlipidaemia. Other causes include being overweight and eating lots of food with a high sugar or fatty content. Overindulgence in alcohol on a regular basis can also raise the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body.

If you produce too much bad cholesterol, then over a period of time there will be an accumulation of fat within the arteries. This increases the risk of diabetes and stroke as well as heart disease.
One of the main causes of high cholesterol is eating too much saturated fat. Food such as certain types of seafood, (prawns), offal, red meat, butter and cheese etc are all high in saturated fat and should be avoided especially if you are prone to high cholesterol levels.

You should also beware of processed and ready-made food. These include biscuits, cookies and cakes. They all contain high levels of saturated fats and usually excessive amounts of sugar.
Another major cause of raised LDL cholesterol is thought to be the amount of "fast food" we tend to eat. For instance the type of cheeseburger bought at most fast food chains contains approximately double the amount of recommended daily fat. Add French fries to the order and the fat content of the meal is raised significantly. Fast food also tends to contain higher amounts of sodium. Excessive amounts of sodium can cause fluid retention and high blood pressure thus causing further strain on the heart.

So how can you reduce your cholesterol level to a more manageable degree?

Basically the best thing you can do is cut down on the level of saturated fat you are consuming. A diet lower in cholesterol is often enough to lower levels to a more manageable degree without the need to take medication (statins).

Food which assists in reducing the levels of cholesterol includes oily fish, unsaturated fat products such as sunflower spreads and olive oil. A high fibre diet containing pulses, nuts, fruit and vegetables can also have a positive effect in reducing cholesterol levels.

Exercise is also important in the fight against high cholesterol. Regular exercise doesn't have to be strenuous, even a 10 minute walk every day can have a positive effect. Swimming is also an excellent way of assisting in the reduction of high cholesterol levels.

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