What is Cholesterol?
There is a big misunderstanding when it comes to cholesterol and its impact on the heart’s health. The myth says “ Cholesterol is bad for you!” however the truth is that we need cholesterol, it is found in every cell in our body. It is made by the liver and required by the body for the proper functioning of cells and nerves. In addition, Cholesterol makes a variety of hormones and helps with digestive health and repair damage to the body.
Cholesterol in body is present in the form of fatty acids that travel through the bloodstream. In fact, cholesterol itself is not dangerous without inflammation because these particles normally don’t build up in the walls of the arteries but with inflammation, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) builds up in the arteries and forms plaque clots, cutting off blood flow and leading to atherosclerosis, heart attack or stroke!
What are the types of Cholesterol?
The myth says there are two types of Cholesterol: Good Cholesterol High-Density Lipoprotein HDL and Bad Cholesterol Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), however the truth is there is only one type of cholesterol, but there are two main vehicles that carry it throughout the body.
HDL transports blood to the liver for recycling, it scavenges and removes LDL. HDL also scrubs inner artery walls clean. On the other hand, LDL transports cholesterol away from the liver, it can build up in arteries when inflammation levels rise in the body.
What causes high Cholesterol?
Poor diet is the number one cause for unhealthy high cholesterol! Many people used to think that a cholesterol lowering diet is a low-fat meal. In fact, eating plenty of healthy fats will arise the HDL cholesterol, which is a key for general health.
What food should be avoided for high Cholesterol?
As we mentioned above, the main factor that causes high cholesterol is inflammation. Consequently, inflammatory foods should be avoided. For example: processed foods that are refined and full of sugar like: breakfast cereals, pastries, breads, pasta, cookies and granola bars!
Also refined grain products, processes vegetable oils, sodium, artificial ingredients, fatty meat, butter, full-fat diary products and too much caffeine or alcohol.
What food should be included for lower cholesterol?
- Avocados are a monounsaturated plant based fat that increases HDL and reduces LDL
- Olive oil is high in unsaturated fats and can help elevate HDL cholesterol. But make sure to consume a small amount if you are watching your weigh because it is still high in calories.
- Green tea contains high level of antioxidants.
- Dark chocolate contains several antioxidants and minerals. But make sure to consume a small amount if you are watching your weigh because it is still high in calories.
- Eggs: yup! Recent studies have shown that the type of cholesterol in eggs does not translate into higher cholesterol numbers in the body. In fact eggs are full of protein and actually help to lower the LDL levels because of their lutein rich yolks.
- Turmeric fights inflammation, which lower LDL cholesterol and prevent clots.
- Nuts (like: almonds – walnuts) are packed with good fat, omega-3s and fiber.
- Seeds (like: chia seeds and flaxseeds) are rich source of omega-3s, they are high in soluble and insoluble fiber that can support detoxification.
- Beans (like: black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and hummus) are full of fiber and help balance cholesterol in the body.
- Vegetables (like: spinach – kale: full of antioxidants, fiber and lutein which lower LDL cholesterol – onions and garlic: are both blood thinners and cleansers which prevent the LDL cholesterol from sticking to arteries – cabbage - asparagus – cauliflower – broccoli - tomatoes)
- Fruits (like: oranges – apples – pears)
- Whole grain (like: oatmeal - quinoa) offers a load of fiber which lower LDL and aids in digestive health.
- Lean proteins like: turkey, tofu, poultry and fish (salmon – sardines - tuna) are super rich in omega-3s and help reduce inflammation.
What else can help lowering high cholesterol?
Beside the food, good habits can also help with lowering cholesterol like: taking prescribed medication that includes HDL, quit smoking, maintaining healthy weight and exercising regularly.