Cholesterol is a substance necessary for the proper functioning of the body. However, its excess is harmful – it causes atherosclerosis and increases the risk of many diseases, incl. tumors. Diet plays a very important role in regulating blood cholesterol levels.
From the text you will learn:
- how to determine the level of cholesterol in the blood and what causes its increase,
- what to eat with high cholesterol,
- what foods exclude a diet to reduce cholesterol .
Cholesterol is a sterol compound that performs many important functions in the body. It is essential for the proper functioning of the body: it builds cell lipid membranes, participates in the transmission of signals by nerve cells and fat digestion, and is also involved in the synthesis of vitamin D 3 and some hormones.
Cholesterol is divided into endogenous and exogenous. The former is produced in the human body, mainly in the liver and intestines. We deliver the second one with food. Cholesterol is carried in the blood by molecules called lipoproteins. LDL lipoproteins, i.e. bad cholesterol, transport it from the liver to the cells. Its excess in the body is harmful – it causes atherosclerosis and increases the risk of many diseases, such as colon cancer or chronic kidney disease. In turn, HDL lipoproteins transport cholesterol from cells to the liver, where it is metabolized.
Cholesterol – Diet Matters!
Cholesterol levels can be determined by simple preventive blood tests that can be performed at any clinic. Its level is influenced by various factors – both non-modifiable, such as genetic predisposition or old age, and factors related to the widely understood lifestyle. Diet is of particular importance for the level of cholesterol in the blood.
A cholesterol-lowering diet – what should it include?
Diet to lower cholesterol and triglycerides should include many products containing substances and compounds that increase the concentration of good HDL cholesterol, and reduce the level of bad LDL cholesterol. They include:
- polyunsaturated fatty acids – they can be found in nuts, avocados, vegetable oils, olive oil and fish,
- plant sterols – their source is vegetable oils, mainly peanut, coconut, linseed, rice, rapeseed, sesame and soybean oils,
- dietary fiber – found in whole grain bread and pasta, groats, legumes, oatmeal, bran and vegetables,
- antioxidant vitamins (A, C, E) – their sources are carrots, pumpkin, peppers, parsley, citrus fruits, avocados, fish meat and vegetable oils.
You can also include the so-called functional food. These are mainly margarines and natural yoghurts enriched with plant sterols, which are highly effective in reducing blood LDL cholesterol levels. Traditional dairy products are allowed, but milk, kefirs, buttermilk, and yoghurt should be lean. It is similar with meat – poultry and lean beef and veal are allowed. However, red meat may be eaten up to three times a week.
A diet to lower cholesterol is not only a list of recommended products, but also a method of preparing meals. Vegetables are best eaten raw or steamed – then they retain the most health-promoting properties. Fish and meat can be cooked, baked in foil or fried without adding fat.
High cholesterol diet – what to avoid?
In order to protect yourself against high cholesterol, animal fats should be excluded (or severely limited) from the diet – especially pork: fatty sausages, cold cuts, pates, head cheese and canned meat. Butter is better to replace with vegetable margarine, you should also avoid fatty dairy products. Caution should also be exercised in the case of all kinds of sweets – both candies and bars, and, for example, jams. Fruit preparations usually have a lot of sugar in them, and sweet snacks – also extremely harmful hardened trans fats.
Diet to reduce cholesterol should be supplemented with physical activity, undertaken 3-4 times a week for at least 30 minutes. This will not only reduce the level of bad cholesterol, but also prevent many diseases typical of old age.