We all love our burgers, yummy greasy cheesy fries and fried snacks, but little do we realise how much damage they are causing to our health. While it is okay to binge on these good-for-nothing but delicious junk foods, it's definitely not a good idea to eat them regularly, considering they can cause one of the most common health problems- high cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is found in every cell of the body and has important natural functions in stimulating various activities in the body that include digesting foods, producing hormones among others. There are two types of cholesterols: HDL or good cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol. Let's look at the causes and effects of high cholesterol and of course some natural ways to lower your cholesterol in a healthy way.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is said to be an oil-based substance and does not mix with the blood, which is water-based. It is carried around the body by lipoproteins. Bad cholesterol forms a layer of plaque on the walls of arteries that makes it difficult for the blood to flow in its natural pace, which further contributes to high blood pressure and in worst cases, even a heart attack or stroke. Here are some causes of high cholesterol: poor unbalanced diet, obesity, lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle, smoking, diabetes and bingeing on junk food.
Foods That May Help Lower Cholesterol
Here are some foods that may help lower cholesterol and keep your heart safe from conditions like heart attack, stroke and blood pressure. The foods are suggested by Harvard Health Publishing- Harvard Medical School:
One of the best foods to lower cholesterol is having a bowlful of oatmeal. Oatmeal contains soluble fibre that reduces your LDL or bad cholesterol. The fibre present can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.
Eating soybeans and foods made with soybeans like tofu and soy milk are said to lower cholesterol. It is said that consuming 25 grams of soy protein each day could lower LDL by five to six percent.
3. Fatty fish
Eating fish two to three times a week could lower LDL by delivering essential omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.
4. Apple, grapes, strawberries and citrus fruits
All these fruits contain pectin, a type of soluble fibre that lowers bad cholesterol and help you keep fit.
5. Vegetable oils
Using liquid vegetable oils like canola, sunflower, et al in place of butter or lard when cooking may keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating two ounces of nuts every day could help lower cholesterol levels.
Beans are super rich in soluble fibre. They take a while for the body to digest, which means you feel fuller for longer after a meal. Include beans like black-eyed beans, kidney beans and lentils in your diet to ensure a healthy heart.