How to reduce cholesterol
Reduce bad cholesterol with this expert guide from trainer and nutrition expert Scott Baptie
What does cholesterol do?
This compound plays an important role in helping the body to build and repair cell membranes and improving communication between cells. It also helps with the production of hormones, including libido-boosting testosterone. Most cholesterol is produced in the liver, although small amounts are also generated throughout the rest of the body.
What’s the difference between HDL and LDL?
Cholesterol circulates around the body in your bloodstream by binding with protein particles and forming lipoproteins. There are two main types of these: high-density lipoproteins – known as HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol – which contain more protein than cholesterol, and low-density lipoproteins – known as LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol – which contain more cholesterol than protein.
Why is HDL good for you and LDL bad for you?
The problem with LDL is that its membranes are weak and liable to break off. This causes your blood to clot, which increases the risk of developing cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks, strokes and heart disease. HDL counteracts this clotting effect by catching stray LDL and carrying it away from your arteries and back to the liver where it can be expelled from the body or re-used.
Will eating certain foods raise my LDL levels?
Eating foods that contain refined sugars and processed carbohydrates may lead to inflammation in the body, which means LDL is more likely to clot your blood. Avoiding these foods is crucial for good cholesterol health.
What can I eat to boost my HDL levels?
Eating a diet based on lean meats, healthy oils, green vegetables and some fruit and dairy will help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels. For an extra boost, increase your intake of omega 3-rich foods such as oily fish, and eat more food that contains quercetin, such as garlic and onions – both will help to reduce inflammation.
What about foods that are high in cholesterol?
It used to be thought that eating high-cholesterol foods raised blood cholesterol levels, but this isn’t the case. Most high-cholesterol foods actually offer health benefits (see box, right) and have no significant impact on blood cholesterol.
Can exercise affect cholesterol?
Exercise has a positive affect on cholesterol health because it stimulates enzymes in the body that help to move LDL to your liver, while increasing the size of the protein particles that form lipoproteins, which improves your ratio of HDL to LDL.
So how do I maintain good cholesterol health?
It’s a simple strategy really – if you stick to a diet based on whole foods with anti-inflammatory properties, avoid junk food and exercise regularly you should have nothing to worry about.
Are there other health benefits associated with cholesterol?
Good cholesterol health will help your body to maintain optimum hormone levels, which is crucial for body composition – especially if you’re trying to build muscle.
Scott Baptie is a physique and sports nutrition specialist, natural bodybuilder and director of FoodForFitness.co.uk