Cholesterol is both your friend and foe. 

At normal levels, it is an essential substance for the body's regular functioning, but if the cholesterol levels in the blood rise too high, it increases the risk of heart diseases. 

In this article, we will run you through various tips to manage your cholesterol levels. So let’s get started.

The human heart works tirelessly to pump blood throughout your body and it is your responsibility to keep it healthy. 

The following tips will be useful in controlling your cholesterol levels and in preventing heart diseases: 

1. Exercise Regularly

Active people tend to have lower cholesterol levels, and regular exercise seems to slow down or stop the clogging of blood vessels by breaking down fatty plaque deposits. 

Doctors recommend regular exercise, preferably aerobic activities which can strengthen the heart, lungs and lower your cholesterol levels. 

A regular medium-paced walk (5.5 to 6.5 km/ hour), five to six times a week or activities such as cycling, for 30 minutes a day, is recommended.

2. Practice Mental Relaxation Techniques

Stress can also be a major factor in elevating cholesterol levels in the body. Therefore, regular practice of relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can greatly help in keeping your mind relaxed and stress-free.  

3. Control Your Oil Intake

Though oils are essential for your health, high quantities of oil in the food can cause health issues. 

A combination of rice bran, mustard and groundnut oil can be consumed but not more than 3 to 5 teaspoons a day (limit total fat to less than 20% of your daily calories).

4. Avoid Smoking

Along with a number of other complications, cigarette smoking also plays a role in increasing your cholesterol levels. 

Puffing a cigarette decreases the levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) which is the good cholesterol in your body by 6 to 8 mg/dl and increases the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) which is the bad cholesterol. 

Smoking leads to a destructive breakdown of cholesterol in the body, increasing the deposits of plaque in the blood vessels. Plaque restricts blood flow throughout the body, increasing the risk of heart diseases. 

5. Avoid Saturated Fats

Too much intake of saturated fat can lead to the build-up of cholesterol in your body. 

Saturated fat can raise the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase the risk of heart diseases. Therefore, the most effective way to lower your cholesterol is to limit the intake of saturated fats. 

Saturated fat is commonly found in animal products such as milk, cheese, meat, as well as in some tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil. 

6. Dietary Tips to Lower Cholesterol 

Fortunately, there are several diet tips for you to make sure your cholesterol stays in check. 

A nondrug, diet approach is an effective, safe and natural way for an individual to maintain good cholesterol levels. 

Given below are some dietary tips that can help reduce and control your cholesterol:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables and a variety of whole grains (like whole-wheat, jowar, bajra, and brown rice).

  • Use skimmed or low-fat dairy products.

  • Include foods such as garlic, wheat germ, liquid chlorophyll, alfalfa sprouts, buckwheat, apples, and celery in your diet. They have a specific ability to dissolve blood fats and can, therefore, help reduce high cholesterol.

  • Consume foods high in water-soluble fibre such as flaxseed, guar gum (gavar sabzi), and oat bran.  

  • Have citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables such as broccoli or cabbage as they are particularly beneficial in lowering your cholesterol levels. The higher concentrations of folic acid, fibre and potassium, may be a key to reducing the risk of stroke or heart diseases.

  • Substitute a side of fresh fruit or vegetables in place of chips or french fries while dining outside. Also, try choosing clear soups instead of cream-based soups.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.