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Here is how you can keep your cholesterol intake moderate

Read on to know about the smart food choices for keep your cholesterol intake moderate. © Shutterstock

Moderately high levels of cholesterol in your blood may not be dangerous, says a new study. We tell you how to keep the levels of this fat in control.

Written by Editorial Team |Published : May 21, 2019 4:53 PM IST

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the major cause of mortality in India and the world as well, suggest reports by the World Health Organization (WHO). The fact that the death burden of CVD is quite high is also supported by other reports. A study named Cardiovascular Diseases in India published in the journal Circulation states, "Cardiovascular diseases have now become the leading cause of mortality in India. A quarter of all mortality is attributable to CVD." One of the culprits behind the high rates of CVD is an increased level of cholesterol in your blood. The recommended level of this fat-like substance is 125 to 200 mg/dL. Cholesterol circulates through your blood by attaching itself to proteins. This combination is known as lipoprotein. Two types of cholesterols exist in your body: good cholesterol (HDL), also known as high-density lipoprotein and bad cholesterol (LDL), also known as low-density lipoprotein. LDL transports cholesterol particles throughout your body and can build up in the artery s wall making them hard and narrow HDL picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.

If your LDL levels escalate, you chance of getting a stroke or heart attack also increases. According to the already referred study of Circulation, ischemic heart disease and stroke cause almost 80 per cent of CVD deaths. Ischemic heart disease is a condition where your heart arteries narrow down due to the build-up of cholesterol on their inner walls. This leads to depleted blood supply to the heart leading to the failure of this organ.

High cholesterol doesn't come with symptoms. It can be detected only through blood test if your doctor feels that your risk of having increased cholesterol levels is high. Poor diet, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, age, diabetes, etc. can rev up your chance of having high levels of bad cholesterol.

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Well, some amount of cholesterol is required by your body to perform certain functions. In fact, moderately high intake of dietary cholesterol does not increase the risk of stroke, suggests a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. For this study, the scientists enrolled 1,950 men aged between 42 and 60 years. The dietary habits of these people between 1984 and 1989 were accessed. At the end of the study, it was found that among 1015 people whose cholesterol metabolism data were available, only 217 suffered from stroke. Among them, nobody suffered from the condition due to moderately high intake of dietary cholesterol.

While this is a good news for people living with high cholesterol, it is pertinent to mention that doctors do not recommend high cholesterol intake. Foods like full-fat yogurt, cheese, fried foods, processed meats, desserts etc. are high in this fat-like substance that is harmful for your heart. So, keep your cholesterol intake moderate. We tell you how.

Reduce saturated fats

[caption id="attachment_667871" align="alignnone" width="655"]red meat Red meat contains saturated fats can reduce your (LDL) cholesterol. Shutterstock[/caption]

These are fats that are saturated with hydrogen molecules and are solid in room temperature. These fats can potentially raise your total cholesterol level. According to American Heart Association, those who want to lower their cholesterol levels should reduce saturated fat intake. It should be not be more than 5 to 6 per cent of total daily calories. Doing that can reduce your (LDL) cholesterol. Some of the food sources of saturated fats include red meat, full-fat dairy products, coconut, cocoa butter, palm oil, baked goods, processed foods, etc.

Eliminate trans fats

[caption id="attachment_667872" align="alignnone" width="655"]fried foods Fried foods contain high amount of trans fats, which is can potentially cause heart diseases. Shutterstock[/caption]

Trans fats, also called as trans fatty acids, are considered as the worst form of dietary fatty acid that can cause heart diseases like stroke, heart attacks, etc. According to a study published in the Journal of Lipids, trans fats can potentially raise your bad cholesterol levels and lower the levels of good cholesterol. Some of the foods sources of this dangerous fat include meat, snacks, frozen pizza, cookies, cakes, fried foods etc. Usually, manufactured variety of trans fats are present in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. And, The Food and Drug Administration, US, suggests you to stay away from this oil.

Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids

[caption id="attachment_667874" align="alignnone" width="655"]omega-3 fatty acids Food containing omega-3 fatty acids can potentially increase levels of good cholesterol in the body. Shutterstock[/caption]

Omega-3 fatty acids are capable of increasing good cholesterol and reducing triglyceride levels. Triglyceride is the most common type of fat, which, combined with high LDL, leads to fat build-up inside the arterial walls, a condition that can lead to heart attack and stroke. According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids can decrease the rate at which the liver produces triglycerides. These acids can also help in thinning blood for its proper circulation. Some of the foods containing omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, tuna, mackerel, walnuts and flaxseeds.

Increase soluble fibre in your meals

[caption id="attachment_667875" align="alignnone" width="655"]chickpeas Chickpeas contain soluble fibre that improve your cholesterol metabolism. Shutterstock[/caption]

Soluble fibre can reduce the amount of overall cholesterol in your blood, says a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It does so by binding itself with cholesterol particles in your digestive system and flushing them out of your body before they are absorbed. According to another study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, soluble fibre actually prevents bile salt re-absorption from the small intestine leading to an excess bile salt excretion through faeces. Bile salts are synthesized from the cholesterol in the liver and total faecal excretion of these salts means improved cholesterol metabolism. Some of the dietary sources of soluble fibre include foods like fruits, legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, cereals, etc.

Add whey protein

[caption id="attachment_667876" align="alignnone" width="655"]Milk Milk is a good source of whey protein which can reduce the levels of triglycerides, a potentially dangerous blood fat. Shutterstock[/caption]

Whey protein can lower both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as reduce blood pressure, says a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It can also reduce the levels of triglycerides, a potentially dangerous blood fat. It is a low fat and carbohydrate food. Apart from this, whey protein can help in weight loss, improve immune response in people with asthma, and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Milk, cheese, yogurt and egg are the food sources of whey protein.

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