Nowadays, there is much talk of cholesterol, saturated and all those fat related conditions. This is certainly due to the fact that the cholesterol topic is quite complex. It is thus important contribute to its vulgarization.
What is cholesterol
Cholesterol is a crystalline substance that belongs to the group of steroids. It is a lipid – fat insoluble in water. It is found naturally in our body, since cholesterol is needed to carry out all our vital functions properly. It is present in the brain, liver, nerves, blood and bile both human and animals. So it has always been said to reduce our cholesterol levels should avoid taking food of animal origin.
The liver produces 80% of the total cholesterol and the other 20% comes from the diet. Cholesterol is involved in metabolic, hormonal, digestive and nervous processes. It is transported from the liver to the cells by proteins called lipoproteins. The cells use what they need and the rest remains in the bloodstream waiting for other lipoproteins to take it back to the liver.
The lipoproteins that transport from the liver to the tissues are LDL (low density lipoprotein), known as “bad cholesterol”. The HDL (high density lipoprotein) or “good cholesterol” is responsible for removing excess cholesterol from the blood and tissues to return it back to the liver. And so it goes fulfilling a cycle that is balanced if it works.
All this balance can be broken when the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream exceeds the amount of HDL to pick it up. So this is where cholesterol sticks to the walls of the arteries forming plaque, clogging and jamming the arterial duct – pathology known as arteriosclerosis, which leads directly to many health problems.
The blood cholesterol level established as normal “safe” is 200 mg/dl (HDL + LDL + 20% Triglycerides), when 200 mg/dl is exceeded there is an increased risk of heart disease. The risk becomes too high when exceeding 240 mg/dl. Within these total cholesterol values, the relationship between HDL/LDL is fundamental. If the level of HDL in blood is less than 35 mg/dl, there is actually increased cardiovascular risk despite having total cholesterol of 200 mg/dl. As HDL levels decrease, the higher the risk of cardiovascular problems. The ideal values of HDL in the blood are between 50 and 60 mg/dl.
Dietary guidelines to reduce high cholesterol
- The consumption of fiber is essential, particularly because soluble fiber binds to fats and removes directly through feces. This type of fiber is found in legumes, oat, barley and fruits such as apples. Oat bran and brown rice are the most recommended to lower cholesterol. Fruit, vegetables and whole grain cereals in general should be consumed daily to reduce cholesterol.
– You must use cold pressed and unrefined vegetable oils, such as olive oil and soybean oil. They are rich in essential fatty acids that reduce levels of LDL and thin the blood. Never heat the olive oil over 190.
– Increase your consumption of blue fish like salmon, sardines and tuna.
– Consider eating raw nuts in moderation.
– Limit alcohol, sugary drinks intake.
– Moderate coffee consumption because it increases the risk of heart disease if consumed excessively.
– Avoid eating sweets, candies and white and sugary chocolates.
– Stop smoking.
– Avoid stressful situations.
– Perform exercises daily and regularly.
– Stay away from drugs alter the ratio of LDL and HDL. Read drugs facts label carefully.
– To limit the intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, your diet should not include:
* fatty meats, sausages, pork;
* margarine, lard, mayonnaise and butter because they have hydrogenated fats that clog arteries;
* whole milk: cheeses are especially rich in saturated fats closely related to obesity, overweight, cardiovascular disease, etc…
* nondairy creamers substitutes rich in coconut or palm oils because they are highly saturated.
Foods high in cholesterol that should be avoided
- brains of animals
– organ meats: liver, kidney, heart, foie gras
– pastries: croissants, muffins,
– butters, mayonnaise and creams,
– prawns, shrimps and crayfish (in their heads)
– more high cholesterol foods to limit can be found on Cholesterol Menu.