Cholesterol consists of fat-like substances called lipids. It is very important for the body. It is also often associated with diet and has always been a big issue with regards to health. From then on, low cholesterol diets became a lot more prominent.
Cholesterol – An Essential Molecule in the Body
When most people hear about cholesterol, the first things that come to their minds are unhealthy and deadly. True enough, having high cholesterol is indeed a threat to a person’s health. But what is the real essence of cholesterol and why is it inside our bodies?
In simpler terms, cholesterol is equal to fats. These fats are used by the body to perform different activities. They are deposited all around the body. Human liver, together with the other organs and some cells, produce about 75% of cholesterol in our bodies. This just proves that cholesterol is not necessarily bad for the human body.
Cholesterol can be classified into two kinds – good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) and bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol).
Cholesterol levels of individuals depend on what they eat, some food contains good cholesterol, while others contain the bad ones. At the same time, the body regularly produces the good cholesterol it needs; and that happens automatically.
The body produces cholesterol that is all good, and it aids in the function of the following: production of sex hormones, serves as a building block for body tissues, and helps with the production of bile in the liver.
Due to cholesterol being mistaken as a bad entity, people often assume that it is not necessary for body development. It only becomes a danger when the bad cholesterol becomes higher than the good cholesterol, and that’s when the problems begin.
Too Much Bad Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol is the bad cholesterol. It is known to be a big factor that leads to cardiovascular disease. Too much of this generally affects the person’s bloodstream and often causes conditions like heart attack and stroke.
What happens when the body receives too much bad cholesterol? The arteries harden. This then affects the blood vessels by narrowing them, thus the flow of oxygen-rich blood in the body gets strained. Also, there is a possibility of a blood clot. And when it blocks the flow of blood then occurs either a heart attack or stroke, which are both deadly.
Why We Need HDL Cholesterol
The HDL cholesterol lives up its name. It proves to be a really important molecule in the body.
First of all, it helps keep the cardiovascular system healthy. It acts as an agent in removing the LDL from the arteries. The LDL are then carried back to the liver to be broken down and then they are removed from the body.
These HDLs also does the opposite of what LDLs do. Too much HDL can help prevent heart attack and stroke.
Low Cholesterol Diet for Healthier Life
Everyone wants to be healthy. Since each one of us may need different diets depending on what our body needs, there are special cases in which a person is expected to go with low cholesterol diets.
Low cholesterol diets give the following benefits:
- It helps decrease the excess fats in the body, especially the saturated fats which are known to be insoluble.
- It helps limit the cholesterol level in the body.
- It helps limit the person’s sodium intake.
- It helps the person achieve higher consumption of dietary fibers.
- It can help decrease the calories in the body so the person can maintain a healthy body weight.
Low Cholesterol Diet Tips and Ideas
The most important thing a person must have when getting into diet is awareness.
To raise awareness, here are what should be avoided when planning to start a low cholesterol diet.
How to Avoid Consuming Too Much Cholesterol
- Avoid consuming too many saturated fats, or better yet, completely cut it out of your diet. These saturated fats are known to be insoluble, which means they stay solid for a long time. They can block pathways in the arteries. Some examples of food containing trans fat are butter and margarine.
- Avoid eating too much fast food and processed foods. This is also applicable to other kinds of diet since these foods contain a lot of chemicals which, when consumed too much, may even lead to complications in the body. Plus, processed meat like sausages and bacon are also high in saturated fats.
- Avoid eating too much sugar. Be sure to always check your food labels as some food may have more amount of sugar than expected. Too much sugar may also affect the cholesterol level in the body.
- Do not overeat meat. Because meat itself is a huge source of cholesterol, just like any other animal product. Start cutting down the meat in your diet, most especially the fat trimmings should be removed. These also contain saturated fats so be sure to limit the meat as much as possible.
Now that you have an idea on what foods to avoid, here are some food that are good for low cholesterol diets and more ways to cut the cholesterol level down.
How to Lower Cholesterol Further
- Start eating more unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats, unlike saturated fats, are soluble. These are also healthy and contains lots of nutrients. Some foods containing unsaturated fats are avocados, olives, and nuts.
- Eat foods that contain fiber, or specifically soluble fiber. Foods like oats, whole grains, and beans contain high levels of soluble fiber. They also help reduce the risk of heart diseases.
- Instead of using butter or margarine for cooking, start switching to vegetable oils. This will greatly help lower LDL in the body.
- Eat more fruits like apples, grapes, and strawberries. Citrus fruits can also work in lowering LDL levels.
- Try consuming more soybeans and products like tofu and soy milk. Soy has been an effective food in helping lower cholesterol.
- Eat a variety of fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, and many more.
- There are also fiber supplements that can be taken to lower cholesterol.
- It is always important to tie up your diet with some good exercise. Always aim for an ideal weight that will keep your body healthy.