How to Reduce Cholesterol?
High cholesterol is a serious health concern and can lead to numerous health problems. However, there are ways to reduce high cholesterol naturally. In this article, we'll discuss the causes of high cholesterol and provide tips on how to reduce it. We'll also look at the best foods for reducing high cholesterol as well as lifestyle changes that can help lower your levels. If you're looking for ways to reduce your high cholesterol, keep reading!
The word cholesterol comes from the ancient Greek ‘chole’ which means bile and stereos which means solid followed by the chemical suffix ‘ol’ for alcohol. Cholesterol is required in our body for the formation of hormones, vitamin D, and certain substances that help in the digestion of food. A normal adult synthesizes about 1000 mg (1g) of cholesterol per day and the total body content is approximately 35 grams.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in blood and in all the cells in the body. It is essential for the body to be healthy as it helps in building cells, hormones, and Vitamin D. When there is too much cholesterol it can cause problems.
From where cholesterol comes?
There are two sources from which cholesterol comes
- The liver makes the cholesterol
- Animal products that we consume such as meat, and dairy products.
The liver is the main organ that synthesizes cholesterol and it accounts for about 20-25% of total daily cholesterol production. Smaller amounts of cholesterol are produced in the adrenal glands, intestines, reproductive organs, etc. The principal dietary sources of cholesterol are present in animal-based foods such as egg yolks, cheese, pork, poultry, shrimp, etc.
It is said that cholesterol is absent in plant sources however products such as peanuts, and flax seeds may contain cholesterol-like compounds and are called phytosterols. These phytosterols help in lowering cholesterol levels.
Food that contains saturated fats and trans-fats raises blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are present in dairy products, animal fats, different types of oils, chocolates, etc while trans-fats are found in fast foods, bakery products, etc.1,2,3
Why it is essential to know your cholesterol levels?
Cholesterol is essential to be healthy but when cholesterol level increases then it can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke. So it is essential to check your cholesterol levels to prevent the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
What is the normal range of cholesterol?
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). Below is the healthy range of cholesterol based on age and gender.
Cholesterol is analyzed by taking a blood sample. You need to do a fast 8-12 hrs before giving blood for a cholesterol test.
|Type of cholesterol||Anyone 19 or younger||Men aged 20 or over||Women aged 20 or over|
|total cholesterol||less than 170 mg/dl||125–200 mg/dl||125–200 mg/dl|
|non-HDL||less than 120 mg/dl||less than 130 mg/dl||less than 130 mg/dl|
|LDL||less than 100 mg/dl||less than 100 mg/dl||less than 100 mg/dl|
|HDL||more than 45 mg/dl||40 mg/dl or higher||50 mg/dl or higher|
- Total Cholesterol – measures the total quantity of cholesterol in the blood both low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
- Non-HDL – this value measures the non-HDL cholesterol. It is calculated by subtracting HDL cholesterol from Total cholesterol. It gives the value of LDL cholesterol and other types of cholesterol such as VLDL.
- LDL (Bad) Cholesterol – is the one that builds up cholesterol and blocked the arteries.
- HDL (Good) Cholesterol – helps to remove the cholesterol from the arteries.
Good cholesterol and bad cholesterol are the terms used for high-density lipids (HDL) and low-density lipids respectively (LDL). HDL carries cholesterol to the liver while LDL carries it to arteries.1,4
What is high cholesterol?
High cholesterol also known as hypercholesterolemia, is the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood. It is a type of hyperlipidemia (increased levels of lipids in the blood), hyperlipoproteinemia (increased levels of lipoproteins in the blood), and dyslipidemia (abnormal levels of lipids and lipoproteins in the body).
Causes for high cholesterol4,5
Genetics and lifestyle factors both have a role in causing high cholesterol.
Certain genes are responsible for producing cholesterol and fats in the body. Thus, familial hypercholesterolemia leads to high cholesterol.
Lifestyle factors include:
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Alcohol intake
- Lack of physical activity
- A diet rich in saturated and/or trans fats
- Familial history
- Liver disease
- Chronic kidney failure
- Nephrotic syndrome and many more
Signs and symptoms of high cholesterol4,5
Hypercholesterolemia does not cause any symptoms unless it leads to a complication. If left untreated it may give rise to symptoms viz, chest pain, angina, xanthoma (cholesterol deposition underneath skin/connective tissue), xanthelasma (cholesterol deposition under eyelid skin). Rarely a corneal arcus (cholesterol deposit in the eye) may develop.
Tests for cholesterol6
A blood test known as lipid profile is done that includes:
- Total cholesterol
- LDL cholesterol
- HDL cholesterol
What are triglycerides?
Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood and are not a type of cholesterol. This can raise the risk of heart disease higher in women compared to men. They are measured along with cholesterol tests.
How to reduce cholesterol?
Proper planning of diet, lifestyle, and medications will help to reduce high cholesterol. Key factors to consider are
- Healthy eating
- Physical activities
- Stop smoking
- Manage stress
- Maintain healthy weight
In the early stages of high cholesterol detection diet and lifestyle changes help in reducing the cholesterol, but when these fail to lower the cholesterol cholesterol-lowering medicines are suggested by doctors.
What does Ayurveda say about high cholesterol?
Hypercholesterolemia in Ayurveda can be correlated with medo roga or medo dosha; some opine for rasa dhatu or raktha dhathu roga. It is also considered broadly under Aamaja vikara.
Medo roga as mentioned above can be correlated to medo vruddhi lakshana in which excess medas or fat/cholesterol accumulation takes place in blood vessels leading to various conditions like hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, heart diseases, diabetes mellitus etc.
Medo vriddhi lakshana are as follows: shrama (fatigue), swalpe api cheshtite swasam (breathlessness), sphik lambanam (sagging of buttocks), stana lambanam (sagging of breasts) and udara lamabana (sagging of abdomen or belly).
From the above-described symptoms; hypercholesterolemia can be correlated with medo vriddhi roga.
Vata, Kapha, and medas are the main dosha and dushya involved in causing hypercholesterolemia associated with rasa and raktha dhatu.7,8
Ayurvedic treatment for high cholesterol
Deepana and pachana: (appetizers and those which help in digesting the ama or digestants) with drugs such as Pippali (Piper longum), Pippalimoola (the root of piper longum), Chitraka (Plumbago zeylanica), Shunthi (Zingiber officinale), Amlavetasa (Garcinia pedunculata), Dhanyaka (coriander), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Maricha (Piper nigrum), etc.
Langhana (body lightening therapy): This therapy induces lightness in the body through fasting therapy. Vamana, virechana and basti (lekhana and medohara basti) are also the methods that do langhana by removing kapha and medas.
Udwarthana: This is a type of therapy where herbal powders are used to massage over body and thus helps in reducing excess fat.8
Once the cholesterol levels are reduced panchakarma treatments are advised to eliminate the morbid doshas which are responsible for accumulation of cholesterol in body. This helps in preventing further accumulation of cholesterol.
Common Ayurvedic medicines used for lowering high cholesterol
- Arogyavardhini vati
- Navaka guggulu
- Kanchanara guggulu
- Navayasa lauha
- Triphala choorna
- Vidangadi choorna
- Vanga bhasma
- Tamra bhasma
- Guggulutikthakam kashayam
- Mahamanjishtadi kashayam
- Varadi kashayam
- Tiktakam kashayam
- Guluchyadi kashayam
- Aragwadhadi kashayam
- Nimbamritadi panchatiktakam kashayam
- Gandharvahastadi kashayam
- Varanadi Kashayam
Asavas and Arishtas (fermented herbal drinks)
- Devadarwarishta etc.
Diet to lower the cholesterol
- Purana shali (Old variety of rice), Mudga (Green gram), Takra (Nicely churned buttermilk), and Madhu (Honey).
- Eating healthy foods
- Avoiding cholesterol-rich foods.
Lifestyle to be followed-
- Physical exercise, Walking, Jogging, Cycling, etc.
- Weight management
- Managing stress
- Quit smoking
Home remedies for lowering cholesterol 8,9,10,11,12,13
- Coriander seed-infused water.
- Intake of Amla juice.
- Flax seeds – eat directly or grind them into a powder and drink with milk.
- Turmeric milk is to be taken at bedtime.
- Raw garlic is helpful. 7 to 9 garlic pods are ground into a fine paste and then boiled with 50 ml of milk and 200 ml of water till only the milk portion is left. This should be consumed on empty stomach.
- Fenugreek seeds can be eaten.
- Red onion – one teaspoon of onion juice with honey
- Chopped onion with 1 teaspoon of black pepper in a cup of buttermilk.
- Orange juice.
- Ginger – Half to one teaspoon of Ginger juice with a pinch of rock salt should be taken on an empty stomach two to three times a day.
- A paste of ginger is taken and to this 50 ml of milk and 100 ml of water are boiled to reduce till only milk is left. This is consumed on an empty stomach.
- Liquorice – ¼ teaspoon of Liquorice powder with honey 2 to 3 times a day on empty stomach.
- Take one teaspoon of Liquorice powder and 50 ml of milk and 100 ml of water and boil till only the milk part remains. This is consumed on an empty stomach.
- Barley- in the form of Indian bread and gruel.
- Coconut oil.
- Fish oil.
- Among vegetables; tomato, brinjal, and spinach are good.
High cholesterol can be a serious health risk, and it is important to take steps to reduce it. Medo dhathu vriddhi along with vata and kapha leads to medo roga or hypercholesterolemia. Hypercholesterolemia patients do not have symptoms until there are signs of angina or heart attack, and most of the time lipid profile may help to detect raised cholesterol levels in the body. Healthy eating habits with reduced fats and good physical activity hold major roles in reducing high cholesterol.
“This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call or visit your doctor.”
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