By Dr. Sunil Kumar, Consultant Cardiologist, Columbia Asia Hospital Hebbal
Heart is a vital organ in our body and maintaining it in the right way does matter a lot. But there are many conditions that can affect the overall functioning of this essential organ, leading to life threatening diseases. Diabetes Mellitus, High blood pressure, obesity, Smoking and improper diet are few causes that can contribute to a cardiac disease. Among these having high cholesterol (LDL) levels in our body is one of the leading reasons for a person to suffer with heart related issues.
Cholesterol is one of the main components that helps in building the cell walls in our body. But like it is said anything above the scale is harmful, the concept applies to Heart Cholesterol too. Well, cholesterol is a waxy fat layer found in our body and blood as well. When the levels exceed in our blood, cholesterol tends to block the arteries that pumps blood to our heart leading to many cardio vascular diseases.
Blood Cholesterol is mainly of two kinds – LDL (low-density lipoprotein): While LDL is the bad cholesterol that blocks your arteries. HDL (high-density lipoprotein): HDL is the good cholesterol that helps in carrying the LDL away from the arteries, keeping our heart safe.
Usually, high cholesterol is due to poor diet, zero exercise, bad sleep patterns and excessive stress. But the level of cholesterol can be controlled or always kept in tab with proper lifestyle changes like- Consuming soluble fiber rich diet: Soluble fiber prevents some dietary cholesterol from being broken down and digested. Foods like oatmeal, chick pea, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans can lower blood cholesterol.
Reduce salt intake: Even though salt does not play a direct role in increasing heart cholesterol, but it does affect a person’s blood pressure which can lead to heart strokes. Replace your foods with low sodium intake or with no salt foods.
Eat fresh fruits and veggies: Apples, bananas, prunes, organs, pears help in lowering the cholesterol in the body. Fruits and vegetables are direct source for soluble fibres. So add lots of greens into your diet.
Reduce/quit alcohol and smoking: When a person consumes alcohol or smokes regularly, their LDL level increases and HDL level will go down. When consumed excessively, these habits can increase the risk of heart diseases and triglycerides levels in our body.
Avoid trans-fat foods: Oily, spicy, colourful, cheesy, sugary all these foods raise LDL levels and reduces HDL levels in the body in return causing heart issues.
Lose the extra weight: If you are above the normal weight, that means your LDL levels might be high too. But losing weight a person will cut down their LDL levels.
Add omega/fish to your diet: Reduce red meat and replace fish (Salmon, sardines, tuna) in your diet. It will not only increase your omega levels in your body but will protect your heart by reducing saturated fats in your body.
Exercise regularly: Be active. It helps in increasing the HDL levels in our body and will reduce LDL and triglycerides. 20 minutes of cardio in a day can slowly boost your cholesterol levels.
Along with these tips keeping yourself calm and stress free, the less your stress levels are the better is your heart. Keep laughing this will calm your mind and will help you in leading a healthy long life.