Things to know about High Cholesterol

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIGH CHOLESTEROL

Increased blood cholesterol or hyper-lipedemia, has become a common symptom among adults. The most common management strategy revolves around restricting animal foods especially egg yolks, which are major sources of cholesterol in the diet. This most often still leaves the root cause unattended.

Managing blood cholesterol parameters requires a lifestyle change. Here are 5 things you need to understand about your eating habits and normal levels of blood cholesterol:

  1. DIETARY CHOLESTROL IS NOT THE MAJOR CAUSE OF HIGH BLOOD CHOLESTEROL

Cholesterol is a form of lipid (fat) that is found abundantly in animal foods sources. (Note: Plant foods cannot have cholesterol). Cholesterol is in a sense required for the body and performs various important functions like helping in forming structure of your cells, production of hormones, helps forming bile, protects your nerve cells and also acts as signaling molecules. Your body (liver) also produces its own cholesterol. So depending on your dietary intake, the liver modulates the amount of cholesterol it produces, maintaining balance. This clearly puts into picture how restricting dietary cholesterol would not have an effect on your blood cholesterol. Studies have shown have also proven the same. Majority of the population only exhibit minimal responses and the remaining have noticed and increase in terms of HDL (commonly referred to as good cholesterol) as well.

  1. PAY ATTENTION TO BALANCE OF FATTY ACIDS

The major strategy to correct blood lipid profile would be to modify and achieve a balance of fatty acids. Fats and Oils are made up of different kinds of fatty acids – MUFAs, PUFAs (eg. omega 3 , omega 6 fats) and SFAs. Improving intake of omega 3 fats (sources: nuts, oilseeds, fatty fishes) and MUFAs (sources: sesame, peanuts, avacadoes, olives) and ensuring that you don’t exceed on saturated fats (sources: animal food sources) should be given importance. Avoiding transfat, which are found in solidified vegetable oils (Eg. Vanaspati) and processed foods can help maintain blood cholesterol.

  1. MAINTAIN GUT HEALTH

Your gut (intestinal) health plays a major role in how your body metabolizes various nutrients. Studies have suggested that a favourable gut bacterial flora can help manage blood cholesterol levels. Improving on intake of natural fermented foods like yogurt, curd, sauerkraut, pazhamkanji (fermented rice porridge), are foound to have a good effect on your gut health. Appropriate probiotic supplementation, under professional supervision can also be taken.

  1. FIBER IS A SUPERHERO WHEN IT COMES TO MANAGING CHOESTEROL LEVELS

Both in-soluble fiber (present in whole grains, pulses and legumes) and soluble fiber (found predominantly in vegetables and fruits) are found to have beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels. Achieving adequate fiber intake for the day can help in reducing and maintaining blood cholesterol levels normal. Dietary fiber can also have an influence on gut health and thereby elicit its effect on blood cholesterol levels.

  1. MANAGING BODY FAT LEVELS CAN AID REDUCTION OF BLOOD CHOLESTEROL

While, ‘ only people who are obese have high blood cholesterol’ remains a myth, excess body fat percentage is one of the criteria that has been found to be closely associated with lipid metabolic derangement. Higher visceral adiposity (fat surrounding organs) , and higher waist circumference (abdominal fat) have been found to have correlation with blood cholesterol. Therefore, achieving fat reduction with proper eating habits and physical activity, can help manage blood lipid levels.

Elevated blood cholesterol is a condition that can be set right with the currect knowledge around its root-cause and appropriate lifestyle changes.

SUJATHA S

Registered Dietitian/ Nutritionist

REFERENCES:

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Soliman GA. Dietary Cholesterol and the Lack of Evidence in Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients. 2018 Jun 16;10(6):780. doi: 10.3390/nu10060780. PMID: 29914176; PMCID: PMC6024687.

Khaw KT, Sharp SJ, Finikarides L, Afzal I, Lentjes M, Luben R, Forouhi NG. Randomised trial of coconut oil, olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women. BMJ Open. 2018 Mar 6;8(3):e020167. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020167. PMID: 29511019; PMCID: PMC5855206.

Schoeler M, Caesar R. Dietary lipids, gut microbiota and lipid metabolism. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2019 Dec;20(4):461-472. doi: 10.1007/s11154-019-09512-0. PMID: 31707624; PMCID: PMC6938793.

Fuller S, Beck E, Salman H, Tapsell L. New Horizons for the Study of Dietary Fiber and Health: A Review. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2016 Mar;71(1):1-12. doi: 10.1007/s11130-016-0529-6. PMID: 26847187.

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