This article is written by guest author Enrico F.
Defined as having a total cholesterol level of 200mg per deciliter of blood, high cholesterol levels put people at risk of having heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association reports that over 120 million people in the United States alone have high cholesterol levels. In the United Kingdom over two-thirds of population over 40 have dangerously high cholesterol.
Types of Cholesterol
However, cholesterol comes in two forms, the bad and the good. LDL (low density lipoproteins) is the type of cholesterol that causes blockages in the arteries. HDLs (high density lipoproteins) actually help reduce bad cholesterol levels. As good cholesterol levels rise, bad cholesterol levels fall; the Mayo Clinic reports that raising HDL levels 1 mg per deciliter of blood can reduce the risk of heart attack by 3 percent.
Produced in the liver, bad cholesterol is the result of eating foods containing high amounts of saturated fats. Once absorbed into the bloodstream LDLs causes plaque to build up on the artery wall. Once buildup on the artery walls becomes great enough blood flow is blocked, causing a heart attack or stroke. To combat these risks, high cholesterol levels are treated with medications, dietary modifications and exercise.
The most common medication used to fight high LDL levels are a group of drugs called statins, which block the enzymes that allow the liver to produce bad cholesterol. However, statins must be taken for the long term, usually for life, and can produce some serious side effects.
One complication of long-term statin use is blood sugar level elevation, possibly leading to Type II Diabetes. Because of this, and other risks associated with statins, lowering LDL levels naturally with exercise and dietary choices is a safer approach.
Because LDL levels increase in direct proportion to the amount of saturated fat consumed in food, the best and first step is to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the diet. Over consumption of fatty red meats is the biggest cause of high LDL levels. Dairy products, including eggs, cheeses, whole milk and creams are also extremely high in saturated fat.
Many foods that are naturally low in saturated fat, like fresh produce and fish, are also highly effective at raising good cholesterol levels. Switching to low-fat food varieties, such as skim milk, fat-free yogurt and ice cream, lean meats, like chicken, and unsaturated fatty oils, while adding foods like salmon, tuna and other cold water fish species, nuts, whole grains and dark vegetables and fruits will all help in lowering bad cholesterol levels while raising the good.
Getting 30 minutes of daily exercise is the finally part of the puzzle in lowering LDL levels naturally. Exercise is believed to lower cholesterol levels through two mechanisms. Exercise is thought stimulate the production of enzymes that are responsible for moving LDLs from the bloodstream and artery walls to the liver. Secondly, exercise is thought to increase the size of protein molecules that carry both LDLs and HDLs through the bloodstream.
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