SHAFAQNA- What is high cholesterol?
High cholesterol is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. Cholesterol itself is a waxy, fat-like substance that is primarily made by the liver, although some comes from the diet. It is an essential component of cell membranes and is used by the body to produce hormones and vitamin D.
Cholesterol is carried through the bloodstream attached to two different compounds called lipoproteins: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is commonly known as the “bad” cholesterol because it transports cholesterol from the liver throughout the body, and potentially allows it to be deposited in artery walls. HDL, known as the “good cholesterol,” picks up cholesterol from the blood and delivers it to cells that use it, or takes it back to the liver to be recycled or eliminated from the body.
Too much cholesterol in the blood builds up on artery walls causing hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). The build-up of cholesterol narrows arteries, slowing or blocking the flow of oxygen-carrying blood to the heart, which can manifest as chest pain. If blood flow to the heart is cut off because of clogged arteries, the result is damage to the heart muscle – a heart attack.
What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
High cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms, so there are no outward signs that your levels are too high and thereby posing a risk to your heart.
Causes of High Blood Cholesterol
There are various risk factors that could contribute to the problem of high blood cholesterol and most of these conditions can be controlled to a large extent.
·Obesity: Obesity or simply being overweight can greatly increase the risk of raising cholesterol levels and correspondingly up the risk of heart disease.
· Activity Levels: A sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity can be extremely detrimental to your general health and it also raises your risk of developing serious heart disease, as it results in a reduction of HDL (good) Cholesterol.
· Age: While young adults may be able to eat and drink, it’s not so once you enter your twenties and thirties. Your diet and lifestyle are important during the teenage years as well, but as men enter their twenties cholesterol levels begin to rise naturally and its all the more important for you to be cautious about your diet. Women don’t really experience any such rise in cholesterol levels during their twenties or maybe even in their thirties, but the spike in cholesterol levels is brought on with menopause. Cholesterol levels can then climb high enough to be on par with those in men.
· Heredity: Genetics do have a role to play in cholesterol levels and your genes could leave you predisposed to higher levels of cholesterol.
In addition to the above mentioned risk factors you should also keep in mind that the risk of high cholesterol will also increase if you suffer from certain other health conditions like diabetes, kidney disease and hypothyroidism.
Home remedies for High Cholesterol
Research has shown that coriander helps lower the levels of total cholesterol, LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol), and triglycerides. Coriander seeds also have hypoglycemic effects and can be useful in diabetes management.
· Add two teaspoons of coriander seed powder to one cup of water.
· Boil the mixture and then strain it.
· Drink this once or twice a day. You can add milk, sugar, and cardamom to it and use it as a replacement for your regular tea.
If you do not have coriander seed powder, then simply use coriander seeds or dry roast and grind them to make the powder.
Red onions are beneficial in dealing with high cholesterol. Scientists in Hong Kong found that they help reduce bad cholesterol and elevate good cholesterol levels. This, in turn, lowers the risk of developing heart disease.
· Mix one teaspoon each of onion juice and honey. Drink it once daily.
· Add one finely chopped onion and one-quarter teaspoon of pepper to one cup of buttermilk. Consume it on a regular basis.
· Also include onion, ginger, and garlic in your diet.
Though counterintuitive, coconut oil is considered a beneficial home remedy for high cholesterol, even though it is a saturated fat. Coconut oil contains lauric acid that helps increase HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol) and improve the LDL/HDL ratio.
Add moderate amounts of organic coconut oil to your diet. You can have one to two tablespoons of this oil daily. Do not use refined or processed coconut oil.
Take 10 pieces of cinnamon sticks and put them in a pot containing 5 teacups of water. Boil the water and then add a tablespoon of honey to it. Drink this concoction when it’s warm.
Enjoying a bowl of oatmeal is an easy yet effective way to reduce your cholesterol levels. It is full of soluble fiber and reduces the absorption of cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol levels.
One and one-half cups of cooked oatmeal or one cup of oat bran contain approximately three grams of soluble fiber, beta-glucan. You can also add fruits and nuts such as apples, bananas, strawberries, and walnuts to your oatmeal for added health benefits.
Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and other nuts and seeds are useful in controlling high cholesterol because they are rich in plant sterols and fiber. Walnuts, in particular, have been found to help lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
So, now you have a good reason to enjoy a handful (one and one-half ounces) of delicious roasted nuts regularly; but do not overdo it. Also, increase your consumption of whole grains and other high-fiber foods.
Fish oils and fatty fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. They help lower triglycerides (fats in the blood) and prevent heart disease.
Consume about one to four grams of fish oil per day.
· Persons suffering from high cholesterol should have foods rich in fiber such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, broccoli, green beans, etc.
· It is advisable to have food prepared from sunflower seeds instead of butter and saturated oil. This is highly beneficial in regulating the cholesterol levels.