Cholesterol is a type of fat present in the blood in small quantities. It forms a part of the cell walls, nerve coverings and brain cells. So it has an important function in the body. It travels through the blood on proteins called “lipoproteins.” Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:

  • LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) sometimes called bad” cholesterol, makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, the LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called “plaque.”

As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing blocks blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.

Reasons for increase in Cholesterol:

Fatty, high calorie diet and obesity are responsible for increase in cholesterol. High level of saturated fats found in meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, fried and processed foods are blamed for increased cholesterol levels. In some cases genetic factors may also be responsible for high level of cholesterol in individuals. High cholesterol is also linked with people who drink excessive alcohol and smoke regularly.

Also, lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain resulting in increased LDL level and reduction of HDL leading to elevated total cholesterol levels. Diseases such as Hypothyroidism, Diabetes mellitus, Alcoholism, Nephrotic syndrome, Fatty liver and obstructive Jaundice too can cause hypercholesterolemia.

Suggested lifestyle to reduce Cholesterol:
  • Fatty and high calorie diet is often responsible for hypercholesterolemia. Therefore, taking light, low calorie diet is important to avoid high cholesterol.
  • Maintaining regular food timings and taking dinner early in the evening is also useful.
  • Yoga, Suryanamaskar and Pranayama are useful while dealing with hypercholesterolemia.
  • Paying attention to digestion and excretion and avoiding indigestion is important when you have high cholesterol.
  • Avoid sweet, sour and salty foods. This doesn’t just mean sugar, but also sweet grains like wheat, rice, pasta, and breads, along with sweet milk products. Sour foods include not only lemons and other sour fruits, but yogurt, cheese, tomatoes and vinegar, which is found in salad dressings, ketchup, mustard and pickles.
  • Cook your food and eat it warm as this also helps counteract the cool, earthy Kapha dosha. Avoid bad fats (saturated fats and transfats), and cook with small amounts of ghee or olive oil.
Foods to reduce Cholesterol:
–       Almonds and other nuts

Almonds and other tree nuts can improve blood cholesterol. A recent study concluded that a diet supplemented with walnuts can lower the risk of heart complications in people with history of a heart attack. All nuts are high in calories, so a handful added to a salad or eaten as a snack will do.

–       Olive oil

Try using olive oil in place of other fats in your diet. You can saute vegetables in olive oil, add it to a marinade or mix it with vinegar as a salad dressing. You can also use olive oil as a substitute for butter when basting meat or as a dip for bread.

  • Trihphala Churna (mixture of Amala, Haritaki and Bibhitaki)

Triphala purported uses include the natural treatment of cancer, infections, gastrointestinal issues, inflammation, high cholesterol, immune system malfunction and even cancer.

  • Red Yeast Rice:

Red yeast rice is a type of fermented rice that is produced using a specific species of mold. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries for its powerful health-promoting properties. It’s often used as a cost-effective alternative to pricey medications to help reduce cholesterol levels and support heart health.

  • Turmeric Powder:

Using turmeric for high cholesterol is beneficial because it contains a compound called curcumin. Curcumin has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol and prevent its oxidation, suppressing plaque build-up in arteries.

  • Fruits

Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.

  • Fatty fish.

Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.

Yoga to reduce cholesterol

Various studies suggest that yoga can help curb cholesterol naturally without any harmful side-effects on the body. Yoga is an ancient discipline that shapes up the body and calms the mind through yoga asanas, pranayamas and meditation. These yoga postures can help you bring your cholesterol level under control:

  • Kapal bhati pranayama (Skull shining breathing technique)
  • Chakrasana (Wheel pose)
  • Shalabhasana (Locust pose)
  • Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand)
  • Paschimottanasana (Two-legged forward bend)
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting Half-spinal twist)