The fashion for a healthy lifestyle is growing steadily every year. Increasingly, people are thinking about the benefits of regular physical activity and the quality of their diet. An integral part of it is the consumption of special foods that can normalize blood cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol: friend or foe?
Cholesterol is an irreplaceable substance for our body. It is in every cell of the body due to the fact that it is produced in it. Being a special fat-like substance, cholesterol does not mix with blood, but is carried, thanks to it, throughout the body by lipoproteins.
Moreover, there are at least 5 most important functions that it performs, namely:
- ensuring the integrity and permeability of cell membranes;
- participation in metabolic processes and the production of bile acids necessary for the normal functioning of the small intestine;
- synthesis of vitamin D;
- production of sex hormones and adrenal hormones;
- improvement of brain function and influence not only on the intellectual abilities of a person, but also on his mood.
Meanwhile, all of them are performed only “useful»Cholesterol, which is carried by high density lipoproteins. Along with it, there is also low density lipoprotein, which transports “harmful»Cholesterol. The one that forms plaque on the walls of the arteries and leads to the development of cardiovascular diseases and even infertility, according to the latest research by American scientists. Dr. Enrique Schisterman, who took part in it, noted that “couples with high cholesterol levels in both partners were unable to conceive for a longer time compared to couples who had normal cholesterol levels“. It is this cholesterol that doctors recommend to reduce in case of exceeding the permissible level.
And he, according to their opinion, should be below 129 mg / dl. In turn, the level of “good” cholesterol should be above 40 mg / dL. Otherwise, the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and even heart attack increases significantly.
By the way, the ratio “harmful“And”useful»Cholesterol in the human body is respectively 25% to 75%. Based on this, many argue that any, even the most strict diet will reduce blood cholesterol levels by no more than 10%.
Diet to lower cholesterol
Doctors have developed several diet options to combat cholesterol. Meanwhile, the most popular and effective are 2 of them:
- 1 The first involves reducing the level of consumed saturated fats, which are found in butter, margarine, palm oil, fatty layers of meat, cheese, etc. and are the reason for the appearance of those very plaques in the vessels. Interestingly, its effectiveness, according to American scientists, is justified only in 5% of cases.
- 2 The second insists on eating low glycemic index foods and healthy fats. Simply put, when following this diet, you need to replace saturated fats with unsaturated ones. The latter are found in fish, nuts and seeds. And replace high-glycemic carbohydrates (the ones that cause high blood sugar) – starchy foods, cornflakes, baked potatoes and more – with fresh vegetables, fruits, and legumes. The advantage of such a diet is that it also allows you to lose weight, which, in turn, leads to a decrease in blood cholesterol levels and the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
Top 9 Cholesterol Lowering Foods
Legumes. They are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which lowers blood cholesterol by binding to acids in the intestines, preventing it from being reabsorbed into the body. In addition to legumes, this fiber is found in oatmeal, brown rice, and many fruits and vegetables such as apples and carrots.
Salmon. It contains omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can reduce the level of “bad” cholesterol in the blood and increase the level of “good”. Plus, salmon is a treasure trove of protein, which is essential for the normal functioning of the heart. Omega-3 acids are also found in white tuna, trout, anchovies, herring, mackerel and sardines.
Avocado. It is a source of monounsaturated fats, which have a positive effect on heart function by lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. Plus, it’s the avocado that contains more beta-sitosterol than any other fruit. This is a special substance that can reduce the level of “bad” cholesterol from food. At the moment, it is being successfully synthesized and used in medicine.
Garlic. At different times, different peoples have eaten garlic for protection from the otherworldly, for additional strength and endurance, and, of course, to fight infections and germs. Several years ago, another unique property of garlic was discovered – the ability to lower the level of “bad” cholesterol and, thereby, normalize blood pressure and prevent blood clots. Recent research has shown that garlic can prevent plaque from clogging up arteries in the early stages by simply preventing cholesterol from sticking to their walls.
Spinach. As with all green leafy vegetables, as well as egg yolk, spinach contains a huge amount of lutein. This pigment reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by preventing cholesterol from attaching to the walls of the arteries and blocking them. It also protects a person from blindness.
Green tea. It enriches the body with antioxidants, thereby helping to maintain the health of blood vessels. Recent studies have shown that regular consumption of green tea can help lower bad cholesterol and normalize blood pressure.
Nuts. Ideally, it should be a mixture of walnuts, cashews and almonds. Doctors claim that they are more beneficial in the fight against cholesterol than any cholesterol diet. After all, they contain monounsaturated fats, copper, magnesium, vitamin E and other substances that ensure the normal functioning of the heart. Regular consumption of nuts can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. And also keep your joints healthy.
Dark chocolate. It contains a huge amount of antioxidants needed to fight “bad” cholesterol. You can replace it with milk chocolate or red wine. Although they contain 3 times less antioxidants.
Soy. It contains special substances that can lower blood cholesterol levels. In addition, this is exactly the kind of product that can replace fatty meat, butter, cheese and other saturated fats without harm to health.
How else can you lower your cholesterol levels?
- 1 Avoid stressful situations. Stress increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
- 2 Do sport. Properly selected physical exercise is a must-have in addition to a cholesterol diet.
- 3 Quit smoking and drinking alcohol.
- 4 Replace fried foods with baked or grilled foods.
- 5 Reduce your intake of fatty meats, eggs, and fatty dairy foods.
And, finally, listen to the opinion of doctors who insist that the success of the fight against cholesterol largely depends on the strength of the desire to help oneself and one’s heart. Moreover, all this is subsequently rewarded with long years of a happy and healthy life.
Read also our dedicated article on cholesterol. Its general characteristics, daily requirement, digestibility, beneficial properties and effects on the body, interaction with other elements, signs of lack and excess of cholesterol, and much more.