Cholesterol counts are getting scarier. Very often even for seemingly fit people the numbers come out rather crooked. Reasons for this can be multiple and are often beyond the realms of diet and what we eat.
First, it is important to understand what cholesterol actually is. It is in fact a waxy, fat-like substance present in every cell of our body, which flows through the blood vessels without causing any damage.
What renders it ‘harmful’ is the state where the cholesterol gets oxidised and slowly builds up in the inner walls of the arteries and form a thick, hard deposit that can clog those arteries and trigger heart attacks and strokes.
So, it is important to stay familiar with it, know when the numbers are turning dangerous and intervene well in time in the right way.
Know Your Genes
Genetics plays a huge role; you may have your father, uncle or great grandmom to thank for this scare. So be aware and if that is the case then stay even more cautious.
Keep a Track of Your Numbers
Get a thorough cholesterol checkup done. And get your figures right and examine them in detail.
Its true that if your total cholesterol is greater than 200 mg, it is high. But the real risk is when the LDL (bad cholesterol) to HDL (good cholesterol) ratio is greater than 4:1.
This is because at least 1 HDL is needed to pick and transport 4 LDL back to liver from blood thus away from causing any harm.
As it cruises through the blood, HDL actually scoops up and removes harmful bad cholesterol and transports it to the liver where it can done away with. Plus, it also cleans up inflammation from the inner walls of blood vessels.
Simply put higher your HDL level, the less “bad” cholesterol you'll have in your body.
To jack up HDL, you must exercise regularly and lose excess weight.
Nicotine thickens the arteries, leading to cholesterol deposits and clotting, increasing thus the risk of heart disease substantially.
So the first thing to do to save your heart is to butt out. No middle way here, only quitting helps.
We all know about the metabolism boosting, muscle toning, fitness boosting and waist thinning benefits of opting for the stairs instead of the elevator.
But now research has found another benefit of climbing stairs - it helps improve our cholesterol numbers, enough to cut the risk of cardiovascular disease extensively.
Now that’s worth the trouble for sure!
Stress not only increases inflammation in the body and jack up the LDL cholesterol levels but also causes poor eating habits and poor food choices - all of which affect cholesterol levels.
In fact stress itself isn’t really the only culprit but how an individual reacts to and manages stress is equally important.
Those who try to put a lid on stress through hostility, social isolation, or self-blame tend to have lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, and that is bad news.
(The writer is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
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