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2 Major Reasons Linked to High Cholesterol Levels

Posted on: 04 Apr 2021

By: Dr Vinoth Kumar

Published in:

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1. GENETIC:

High cholesterol runs in some families due to genetic predisposition. In spite of taking food items with less saturated fats and oils, they tend to have very high cholesterol levels. It causes blocks in the blood vessels of the heart and causes heart attack in young persons. Early identification and appropriate medications may prevent major heart attack in such cases. Most of these patients need medicines during the initial stages itself due to very high cholesterol levels

2. DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES

DIET:

High saturated fat intake  and sedentary lifestyle causes mild to moderate increase in blood cholesterol levels. If  Lifestyle and dietary modifications are not followed during the initial stages then we have to  initiate medications.

What are the dietary changes we can  do to reduce the total cholesterol and bad cholesterol in the body?

1) Reduce the intake of calories coming from saturated fats to less than 5-7%. It means we need to consume less than 150 calories from saturated fats .

Common sources of saturated fats in our daily diet in India:

  • Whole milk, Ghee, Butter,  Cheese, Coconut oil, Palm oil, Chicken with skin, Red meat(Lamb, Beef, and Pork).
  • Cottage cheese or panner contains less amount of saturated fats, carbohydrates and calories and more amount of protein and hence panner is better than cheese. But cheese is better than Butter because butter contains a lot of carbohydrates and saturated fats with less protein.
  • Chocolates, Cakes, Puddings also contain more amount of saturated fats
  • Eggs and Prawns contain less amount saturated fats and more amount of cholesterol. Only the food items containing more saturated fats are shown to increase the blood cholesterol levels but not the food items with high cholesterol.

2) Increase the intake of MUFA and PUFA:

MUFA:

Olive oil, Avacado oil, Almond oil, Ground nut oil ,Mustard oil and Nuts (Almond,Cashew&Peanuts) contain good amount of MUFA which helps in reducing the bad cholesterol levels

PUFA:

Two types of PUFA are essential for the body. Omega 6 PUFA and Omega 3 PUFA

Consumption of omega 3 fatty acids is essential for healthy heart. DHA and EPA are two essential omega 3 fatty acids play an important role in reducing Triglycerides and reducing irregular heart beats and sudden cardiac death.

LIFESTYLE CHANGES

  a) Physical activity:

Physical inactivity is one of the important reasons for heart blood vessel blocks and heart attack. Sedentary lifestyle decreases good cholesterol HDL.

30 min of aerobic physical activity atleast 5 days in a week is very important not only to reduce weight but also to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL)and increase good cholesterol(HDL)

b) Weight loss:

Even 5-10% reduction of body weight results in significant  reduction of blood cholesterol. Eating healthy foods instead of junk foods and daily physical activity helps in reducing weight.

c) Quit smoking:

Smoking increases bad cholesterol LDL and decreases good cholesterol(HDL). This is responsible for increased incidence of cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels of the heart and major heart attack in young population. Stopping smoking is the cornerstone of prevention of major heart attack.

  d) Reduce Alcohol consumption:

Alcohol consumption is associated with high triglycerides and low HDL. Patients with very high triglycerides have a high risk for pancreatitis. Hence alcohol consumption should be completely

stopped to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood and to avoid pancreatitis

e) Control of diabetes:

Uncontrolled Diabetes is associated with an increase in bad cholesterol LDL &Triglycerides and a decrease in good Cholesterol(HDL). Hence keeping the sugars under control is very important to maintain your cholesterol within limits.

To summarise, A healthy diet and healthy life style are paramount importance in maintaining your cholesterol levels  within normal range without medications during the initial stages and in the later stages in addition to medications these are to be followed for maintaining ideal cholesterol levels.