Ever since the pandemic disrupted our lives, we have become all the more cautious and conscious about our health and well-being. To lead a healthy life, we have to ensure that our body parameters remain normal and stable. One of the essential body stats that impacts our health and fitness is our cholesterol levels.
Busting myths associated with cholesterol levels
High cholesterol levels are usually considered harmful to our body. But little did we know that there is a need for maintaining optimum cholesterol level for normal functioning of our body. While there are a few myths associated with cholesterol that do the rounds, here we attempt at busting these myths and laying out the truth in front of you.
Myth: Every form of exercise impact cholesterol
Reality: Not every kind of exercise impact cholesterol. Certain modalities such as cardio combined with strength/resistance training however affect the LDL and HDL levels. HIIT (High intensity interval training) helps improve HDL cholesterol. The surge in adrenaline and noradrenaline from the increased heart rate in HIIT training serves as a catalyst for fat loss from adipose tissue.
Myth: Lifestyle and behaviour play little or no role in cholesterol levels and heart health
Reality: Stress and irregular sleep patterns do affect our cholesterol levels and heart health. Chronic stress can even lead to high levels of cortisol and adrenaline release. These hormones can eventually trigger a fight or flight response to deal with the stress. This in turn can trigger ‘bad’ cholesterol. Sleeping too little or too much can also affect the metabolism of the body and the cholesterol levels. To curb this, 6-8 hours of sleep is required.
Myth: Supplements dramatically reduce cholesterol and improve health
Reality: Supplements along with healthy food diet supervised by a qualified nutritionists can improve cholesterol levels. Supplements rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as fish oil help in improving hyperlipidemia and hence reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Myth: There are a lot of superfoods that can optimise cholesterol
Reality: Evidence says that certain foods can impact certain types of cholesterol. For every 10 g of additional fiber added to a diet the mortality risk of CHD decreases by 17–35 per cent through a variety of mechanisms, such as improving serum lipid concentrations, lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation.
To reduce cholesterol levels, one should consume fibre rich foods including both insoluble (whole grain, wheat, bran, nuts & seeds, fruits & vegetables) and soluble fibre (cauliflowers, fenugreek leaves, tomato, spinach, carrots, broccoli, onion & artichokes and fruits including bananas, berries, apples & pears, as well as legumes, oats & barley).
Garlic is another super food that works wonders for maintaining cholesterol levels. It reduces cholesterol, inhibits platelet aggregation, reduces blood pressure and increases antioxidant status. It is advised that garlic could either be consumed raw by cutting or crushing it to activate its bioactive compounds or after cooking.
Foods containing trans-fat should be avoided as it could be risky for the heart and the overall health. Such food items include baked goods such as cakes, cookies, pies, the ones produced with shortening technique, microwaved popcorn, frozen pizzas, refrigerated dough, such as biscuits and rolls and fried foods such as French fries, doughnuts and chicken.
Even foods items containing saturated fats such as fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, beef fat, cream, butter, cheese and dairy products made from whole milk should be avoided. Usage of plant-based oils such as palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil should be limited.
The bottom line
You are what you eat, it not only reflects on physical appearance but your internal body performance as well. Hence, indulging in mindful eating and striving to consume a diet that is balanced is crucial. Keeping cholesterol levels in check is important to ensure that overall health is sustained. For those who are already hyperlipidaemic, opting for a holistic, clinically supervised cholesterol optimisation program that includes nutrition, exercise along with medical interventions that would produce exceptional outcomes.