Cholesterol has a very bad reputation - but as so often it depends on the right amount. Because the human body needs the blood fat, for example to build up cells or to form vitamin D. On the other hand, an excessively high cholesterol level is considered unhealthy because it increases the risk of an infarct. Statins are often prescribed to lower cholesterol. But it can also be done without medication: With the right diet and regular exercise can lower the cholesterol naturally. We show you how it works!
What is cholesterol exactly?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance, which is partly formed by our body and is partly taken from the food. This substance is very important for the function of the cells and contributes among other things to the formation of hormones and bile acid.
However, high cholesterol is a common cause of heart disease. Of course, there are many factors that promote coronary heart disease - so it is important to at least keep an eye on and, if necessary, eliminate those that you can influence. These include the cholesterol level.
Two types of cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol, which is transported through the body as so-called lipoprotein (HDL or LDL):
- The "bad" LDL cholesterol may deposit in excess of the vessel walls and thus promote atherosclerosis, which can lead to a stroke or a heart attack.
- HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is called "good" cholesterol. It collects LDL cholesterol in the body so that it can be eliminated via the liver - it protects the blood vessels.
Which cholesterol value is ideal?
To calculate the ideal cholesterol value, several factors are important: gender and age play an equally important role as belonging to certain risk groups.
Physicians are of the opinion that in healthy people between 35 and 65 years, an average total cholesterol value of 200 mg / dl (milligrams cholesterol per deciliter of blood) should not be exceeded.
The cholesterol level - when is it too high?
A high cholesterol level is referred to above a limit value of 240 mg / dl, or an LDL value of 160 mg / dl. Good HDL cholesterol is ideally greater than 40 mg / dL. However, the ratio of LDL to HDL is also decisive: it should be at a maximum of 4 to 1.
If the LDL value is too high, it is important to act as quickly as possible and to make sure that the ratio recovers. However, this is only possible to a limited extent if genetically determined reasons tend to increase cholesterol levels.
However, one should still try to prevent the cholesterol level from rising even further and further damaging the body.
To lower your cholesterol, you do not necessarily have to take medication. Often it is also possible without drugs, if you simply pay attention to his diet.
Because there are many foods that can have a positive effect on our cholesterol level:
- A good choice is tomato, which contains the substance lycopene. He ensures that cholesterol can not settle in the blood vessels.
- Whole grains score high with cholesterol-lowering fiber. These absorb liquid, including cholesterol-containing bile acid, and dispose of it in the normal digestive system.
- Fibers are also found in fruits and vegetables. In addition, they contain no cholesterol, but antioxidant vitamins that prevent the LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and damaging the vessels.
- Products with soy, such as tofu or soy milk, are also recommended as cholesterol-lowering. They contain sterols, special botanicals that reduce cholesterol.
- Garlic, onions and leeks fulfill the same function: they contain the allicin plant substance, which leads LDL cholesterol out of the body.
- Nuts are also recommended. If you eat around seven walnuts per day, you can reduce cholesterol levels by up to seven percent - researchers have also found this out in a study.
- Even with green tea, the blood fat can be lowered, because the contained tannins and saponins inhibit the absorption of fats from the diet.
Special cholesterol-lowering products from the supermarket are fortified with phytosterols and can also lower cholesterol levels. However, you should take a maximum of three grams per day, as they complicate the intake of valuable carotenoids.
Beware of these foods
If you want to lower your LDL cholesterol, you should use animal fats sparingly. These are stuck, for example, in fat meat, cream or butter. Vegetable fats such as thistle oil, rapeseed oil or olive oil, which can even counteract LDL cholesterol, are better.
Especially positive are omega-3 fatty acids, which are among others in nuts and fatty sea fish such as mackerel or salmon. But beware: a lot of cholesterol is found in eels, crustaceans or smoked fish.
Avoid trans fat and alcohol
Also so-called trans fatty acids, which can arise in the hardening of vegetable fats, should be avoided. They can cause an increase in bad LDL cholesterol. Frequently, such trans fats are found in deep-fried foods, such as chips or French fries, greasy baked goods or cheap margarine.
In addition, if possible, you should also abstain from alcohol, or reduce consumption to a minimum, because even alcohol can increase the cholesterol levels in large quantities.
Do eggs raise cholesterol?
It is known that eggs contain a lot of cholesterol, but so far it has not been scientifically proven how these ultimately affect our health. So far, you do not know how much eggs help to increase the cholesterol level. Numerous factors play a role here, including genetic predisposition and the rest of the diet.
For example, Dutch and German researchers have been studying how cholesterol levels change when you consume eggs with buttermilk. The result of the study was that buttermilk may contain ingredients that inhibit the uptake of cholesterol from the gut and thus prevent blood lipid levels from rising.
Increase the HDL cholesterol level with exercise
If you want to lower your cholesterol effectively, then it is important to move in addition to a customized diet and sufficient. When swimming, jogging, tennis, walking or cycling, the heart rate increases and contributes to the sustained increase in the HDL value in the body.
Of course, you should not become an extreme athlete overnight and overstrain your body - it is enough to move a little more than usual every now and then, go jogging for half an hour or treat yourself to an hour in the pool. Ideal is a moderate endurance training, which is carried out two to three times a week for half an hour.
Integrate exercise into everyday life
It can also help to create small units in everyday life: The lunch break is ideal to make a quick walking walk around the block. Even after dinner, a digestive walk is a good way to move - and last but not least it helps if you leave the elevator or the escalator more often left and instead takes the stairs.
This avoids extra pounds, which can also have a negative effect on the cholesterol level.
When are medicines needed?
If exercise and nutrition are not enough to lower the level of cholesterol, medicines called statins can be used. Especially people who are at an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis should have their cholesterol levels checked regularly by a doctor. Risk factors for arteriosclerosis include smoking, diabetes or hypertension.
By appropriate diet and regular exercise but it can succeed in such cases, to lower the cholesterol without statins.