Cholesterol circulates in our blood as a soft, yellow, fatty substance. When level is high, the excess builds up on our artery walls and can clog them up and reduce blood flow, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. Not all cholesterol is bad. Our body produces it naturally and it performs some simple yet vital functions. It helps to build new cells, produces hormones and insulates neurons. The problem only arises when we produce too much. Unfortunately, cholesterol is surrounded by confusion, which is understandable considering the range of terms such as food, serum, and LDL cholesterol. So how do we distinguish good from bad?
- Food cholesterol is contained in foods – mostly from animals. For example, one egg contains 275 mg of cholesterol, but an apple has none. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the daily consumption to 300 mg.
- Serum circulates in the blood, and doctors measure it by using a special test. It is desirable that it is less than 200 mg.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is a kind of serum cholesterol that is considered good because of its ability to clean arteries – the higher level, the better.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the 'evil twin' of HDL that clogs the arteries – the lower the level, the better.
Experts recommend the following to regulate cholesterol level:
- Balanced diet Include lots of fruit, green vegetables, pulses (beans) and oat bran. These contain pectin, which can lower. It's been found that eating grapefruit over a period of 8 weeks can lower cholesterol by an average of 7.6%.
- Natural support These 'natural helpers' can fight high cholesterol levels. Although their impact has not been studied for a long time, the results of initial studies were promising.
- Barley Barley has the same potential to lower cholesterol as oats. In animal studies, two chemical components of barley lowered cholesterol by 40%.
- Cordyceps can join cholesterol molecules and safely remove them from the body. Cordyceps is often sold in two forms – powder and extract. Cordyceps extract is more effective than Cordyceps powder. Cordyceps regulates function of the liver, which is the main source of production and elimination of cholesterol. Recent research has confirmed that Cordyceps extract lowers total cholesterol by 10-21%, lowers triglycerides by 9-26% and increases HDL cholesterol by 27-30%.
- Green tea The tannins in green tea helps to control cholesterol. One study found that people with a diet high in cholesterol who typically drink green tea have normal blood cholesterol levels.
- Spirulina Protein-rich species of marine algae such as spirulina, which is often sold in powder or tablets, reduces LDL cholesterol level.
- Watch your body weight The higher body mass, the more cholesterol your body produces. Twenty years of research in the Netherlands showed that body mass is a very important determinant of serum components. Each 0.5 kg increase in body weight leads to a two-level increase in cholesterol.
- Exercise – One of the best ways to raise the level of protective HDL is intense physical exercise, which also slightly reduces LDL cholesterol.
Years of experience show that these four steps help to reduce LDL level and strengthen your health in overall.