Foods to Lower Bad Cholesterol : What foods are better to fight hypercholesterolemia? Which ones are prohibited?
Cholesterol is a compound of animal origin that can cause heart disease if it is concentrated in the blood at excessive levels. The choice of food is essential to lower cholesterol because following a few guidelines the improvement can be very significant.
Although changes in diet are very important in reducing cholesterol levels, it is also important to exercise at moderate intensity, maintain a healthy weight and not consume tobacco .
Definition of “cholesterol”
Cholesterol is found in all animal cells. It is a molecule composed of fatty acids that has various functions, such as giving strength to cell membranes or helping to synthesize some hormones.
To be transported by blood, cholesterol binds to two types of lipoproteins; We refer to them when we speak of “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol”.
The term “bad cholesterol” refers to LDL (low density) lipoproteins . They transport cholesterol through the blood so that it can carry out its functions, but if LDL levels are excessive, fats accumulate in the circulatory system and block it, possibly causing atherosclerosis or heart attacks.
In contrast, high density lipoproteins or HDL are called “good cholesterol” because they transport cholesterol that accumulates in the circulatory system, enabling its elimination.
Speaking of “forbidden foods” in cases of high cholesterol is usually a bit excessive because, if consumed in a limited way, most of these foods are not as unhealthy as is commonly believed. However it is important to follow some general rules and avoid as much as possible certain foods that raise cholesterol, especially if our levels are very high.
First of all it is recommended to limit the consumption of saturated fats and, above all, of artificial trans fats since they contain high amounts of “bad cholesterol”.
Saturated fats are found in red meat, whole milk products, eggs, palm oil or coconut oil. In small amounts these fats are healthy because they reduce triglyceride levels and increase HDL cholesterol levels.
On the other hand, trans fats are derived from chemical products used in industrialized foods. They have no nutritional value and it is considered bad for the heart to have high cholesterol or not. Trans fats are used in fast food, industrial bakery , processed foods and fried foods .
High-fat meats should be limited; you have to eat chicken and fish in moderation, basing the diet on products of vegetable origin. It is also recommended to reduce the consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugars, such as granules and sugar for baking.
Meals to fight high cholesterol
The foods that we recommend are effective to lower cholesterol for different reasons. Some help to eliminate the “bad cholesterol” or reduce its levels directly, while others do not affect cholesterol but compensate for the related alterations.
7 Foods to Lower Bad Cholesterol
If we have high cholesterol we should not simply add the foods on the list to our usual diet, but we should try to replace the “prohibited foods” with those included here.
1. Whole grains
Cereals such as quinoa, wheat, corn, oats or barley contain soluble fiber , which reduces the absorption of LDL cholesterol and prevents it from reaching the blood. It is recommended to eat between 20 and 35 grams of fiber a day, of which approximately 10 should be soluble fiber.
Oatmeal in particular also contains beta-glucans, which absorb the “bad cholesterol”, making it even healthier than the rest of whole grains.
2. Blue fish
These foods have a high content of omega 3 fatty acids, a subtype of the so-called “polyunsaturated fatty acids” , which lower total cholesterol. Omega 3 acids in particular reduce blood pressure and prevent blood clotting.
The healthy fats of blue fish are especially recommended because they can substitute those of meat, which increases to a greater extent the “bad cholesterol”. It is recommended to cook fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, tuna, sardines, trout or baked herring, cooked or grilled.
Like whole grains, legumes reduce LDL cholesterol levels because they contain soluble fiber. In addition, since they are slow-digesting foods, soybeans, lentils, beans (or red beans), chickpeas or beans help you feel full and lose weight .
Nuts contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as blue fish. Nuts, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts or pistachios can be used to substitute other foods.
They have many calories so it is not necessary to eat more than a handful a day . They should be consumed without salt or sugar so as not to annul their healthy properties.
5. Fruits and vegetables
These foods have very low levels of saturated fats. Fruits such as avocados, apples, citrus fruits, strawberries and grapes are rich in soluble fiber, so they facilitate the elimination of “bad cholesterol”.
Vegetables such as eggplant, okra and broccoli have effects similar to those of the fruits mentioned and contain very few calories, so they are also useful for lowering cholesterol.
6. Vegetable oils
Olive oil, sunflower oil or canola oil also contains polyunsaturated fatty acids , so it is recommended to consume them instead of oils of animal origin. Extra virgin olive oil is especially good for health.
Tea is not only healthy for its antioxidants but also because it reduces the levels of fats and LDL cholesterol in the blood. To lower cholesterol , green tea stands out .
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