Higher levels of blood cholesterol can be lowered if one reduces the intake of saturated fat such as ghee, butter, cream, egg-yolk, etc. Only 20% saturated fats are permissible in such cases. One should use polyunsaturated oils, and they must be used in the minimum quantity necessary for cooking purposes. If onion or garlic or both are added to saturated fats, blood cholesterol does not rise, because they hinder the absorption of fats from the gut. This may be the reason for the practice of frying onion and/ or garlic in ‘ghee’ for cooking vegetarian/non-vegetarian food.
In addition to the restriction of fats, one should take a high-fibre diet, i.e., whole wheat flour (bran to be taken along with it), whole pulses, unpolished rice and plenty of green vegetables – cooked/salad. Curd or yoghurt prepared from skimmed milk is said to be useful in lowering cholesterol. One should take only cottage cheese since it is prepared from skimmed milk.
Only low-calorie fruits are permissible, e.g. apple, orange, water-melon, musk-melon, etc. The patient should also avoid routine dietary articles containing fats, like ice-cream, cakes, sweets, etc. Many a time the patient remains ignorant about the contents of fats in such items.
Exercise has got a very great role to play in lowering high levels of blood cholesterol. Depending on the condition of the heart etc., one should walk briskly, jog and do light exercises. It is well-established that exercise effectively lowers high levels of blood cholesterol. Drugs may be required in some cases where dietary restrictions and exercise fail to lower the level of high cholesterol. These may also be required when cholesterol levels are very high from an early stage. The patient may need either one, or a combination of two or three drugs. In some cases, a maintenance dose of the drugs may be required for some years, and in severe cases, even for the lifespan of the patient. While taking cholesterol lowering drugs, one has to stick to a very strict diet. This must be kept in mind.
From the above, therefore, one can realize that it is vital to detect high blood cholesterol at the earliest possible stage, so that its complications, especially heart attack, can be prevented and the disease can be treated by dietary restrictions and exercise alone. Drugs should be avoided as far as possible because they have their own adverse side-effects.
Persons with a higher level of HDL-cholesterol have much less chances of developing ischaemic heart disease. In females, HDL-cholesterol levels are usually high, and this may be the reason that women during the reproductive period have very little chances of developing ischaemic heart disease. The chances are greater when they enter the menopausal period.
To sum up, it may be said that if a person has more than 199 mg/dl of blood cholesterol, more than 130 mg/dl level of LDL-cholesterol, and less than 35 mg/dl of HDL-cholesterol, he requires the urgent attention of the physician for the control of the above cholesterols, so as to prevent the chances of his developing coronary artery disease, stroke, etc.