Much is said about cholesterol, so we will try to clarify some things, and give them a food guide, which can be introduced into the diet to regulate the levels of it when we have it elevated.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat (lipid) that is found naturally in our body since cholesterol is needed to carry out all our vital functions adequately. Cholesterol is present in the brain, liver, nerves, blood and bile in both humans and animals. That is why to reduce our cholesterol levels we must avoid taking foods of animal origin.
The liver generates 80% of total cholesterol and the other 20% comes from the diet. Cholesterol intervenes in metabolic, hormonal, digestive and nervous processes. The cells use what they need and the rest remain in the bloodstream waiting for other lipoproteins to return to the liver.
The good and the bad, LDL (low-density lipoprotein), known as “bad cholesterol” are the lipoproteins responsible for transporting cholesterol from the liver to the tissue and the HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or “good cholesterol” are responsible to eliminate the excesses of cholesterol from the blood and tissues to return it to the liver again and fly back to the LDL. This works as a cycle in our body and has a delicate balance.
All this balance can be broken when the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream exceeds the amount of HDL to be able to collect it. Then it is here when the cholesterol adheres to the walls of the arteries forming a plaque, obstructing and clogging the arterial duct, a pathology that is known as arteriosclerosis, which leads directly to innumerable health problems.
The level of blood cholesterol established as normal “safe” is 200 mg/dl, (HDL + LDL), when it exceeds 200 mg/dl there is an increased risk of heart disease. The risk becomes too high when the 240 mg/dl is exceeded.
Within these total cholesterol values is the relationship between HDL / LDL, that is, if the level of HDL in blood is less than 35mg / dl, there is really increased cardiovascular risk despite having blood total cholesterol of 200mg / dl.
As HDL levels decrease, the risk of cardiovascular problems increases.
The normal values of HDL in blood range between 50-60 mg / dL.
Some factors that alter this balance are diet, especially the consumption of sugar and alcohol, (increase the production of cholesterol that the body produces) and the consumption of saturated fats of animal origin that increase our blood cholesterol level directly, also There is a hereditary factor whereby the liver produces more cholesterol than necessary.
According to The World Health Organization, they recommend not to exceed 300 mg daily of cholesterol in the diet.
15 Tips To Reduce Blood Cholesterol Levels
- The consumption of vegetable fibres is essential, particularly soluble fibre since it binds to fats and eliminates them directly through faeces. This type of fibre is found in legumes, glucomannan, guar gum, oats, barley and fruits such as apples. Oat bran and brown rice are the most recommended to reduce cholesterol.
- Fruits, vegetables and whole grains should be consumed daily in any balanced diet to be healthy.
- Fresh juices at mid-morning and snack as a snack, also help reduce bile fat which lowers cholesterol.
- Always use cold pressed and unrefined vegetable oils, such as olive oil.
- The consumption of blue fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna reduce blood cholesterol
- Nuts should be consumed in moderation and raw must also be taken into account.
- Do not drink alcohol, sugary drinks and cola drinks.
- Moderate coffee consumption, since it increases the risk of heart disease if consumed excessively.
- Avoid the consumption of sweets, candies and chocolates.
- Stop smoking.
- Avoid situations of stress.
- Perform exercises on a daily and regular basis.
- Certain medications alter the ratio between LDL and HDL.
- Never heat the olive oil to more than 190ºC. Consume it always raw.
- Do not consume fast food (Mc Donald’s, Burger King, KFC etc.) or bakery or industrial bakery that may contain animal fats.
Foods that should be avoided for cholesterol
- Butter, margarine, fat of animal origin such as pork
- Palm or coconut oil
- Meat especially rich in fat, pork sausages and organ meats.
- Fried, breaded or breaded foods. Heating oils or fats, oxidizes them producing free radicals, very harmful to health. In addition, the heating of fats forms “trans” acids, toxic, which also block and clog arteries increasing blood cholesterol levels.
- Whole dairy products: especially cheeses that are very rich in saturated fats.
- Sauce with cream, butter, mayonnaise, highly processed foods, all substitutes of sauces, baked goods and others usually have a large amount of sugar and fats, for example, very common foods such as a can of tomato puree, usually have sugar levels very tall.
All the above tips not only serve for cholesterol but also avoid other fats are useful for overweight and a healthy diet in general.
Does eating egg raise cholesterol levels?
As you will see until now we had not mentioned the egg and that although it is rich in cholesterol there are multiple studies that indicate that the cholesterol of the yolk does not modify the blood cholesterol values; therefore, it can be consumed two or three times a week (as long as it is not light fried), even if the cholesterol is above normal levels.
The egg is an excellent and healthy food because it contains proteins of high biological value.
The yolk contributes to healthy fats: phospholipids, linolenic acid, choline, and cholesterol. It also provides minerals such as phosphorus, zinc and selenium, and vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin D, B12, folic acid and biotin.
So today we know that the relationship between eggs and cholesterol is nothing more than a myth, but remember that just 25 years ago, there was not much idea of cholesterol and the processes involved in the body.
Foods to control hypercholesterolemia
The first of all is a food that our grandmothers already knew as healthy, garlic. They are one of the most powerful blood cleansers that exist, which can significantly stabilize the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.
Onions and artichokes are also vegetables that can help us with their depurative properties.
We already mentioned the fruits, but mainly the pear, it works very well because of its high fibre content.
There are two infusions that seem to work very well, one is the red tea, studies have been done at the University of Yunan (China), which claim that it works, it is also known to be slimming due to its indecency in the metabolism of lipids.
The other infusion comes from South Africa and is called rooibos, it is not as popular but it is found in almost any shop specializing in teas or healthy eating. It is used as a support tonic to help digestive health, to encourage the functioning of the liver, and to promote healthy blood sugar levels. It is an extremely nutritious herb, containing vitamin C, Alpha hydroxy acid, potassium, copper, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, manganese and fluoride.
As for medicinal plants ginkgo biloba, this plant against cholesterol is one of the most used phytopharmaceuticals in Europe today. Among its many properties, it activates the entire circulatory system, especially due to its high flavonoid content.
Also dandelion is an excellent herb for cholesterol. Its use is extended since it is very good also for the whole digestive system. It is a purifier, controls the metabolism of lipids and reduces the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.
All the tips are a simple guide, as always you should consult with a specialist about your particular case, since these are general lines and each body is unique and reacts differently, in addition as already mentioned you have to rule out the hereditary factor.