Human cholesterol can be divided into good and bad: “Good cholesterol” (HDL) can protect the heart, and too much Bad cholesterol (LDL) increases the risk of heart disease. You need to raise your cholesterol and control Bad cholesterol.
Fortunately, Bad cholesterol is not an insurmountable problem, and this article will be dedicated to helping you solve the Bad cholesterol problem.
Good cholesterol and Bad cholesterol?
Cholesterol is widely found in animals, especially in brain and nerve tissues, and is also high in kidney, spleen, skin, liver and bile.
Cholesterol is an indispensable and important substance in animal tissue cells. It not only participates in the formation of cell membranes, but also is a raw material for the synthesis of bile acids, vitamin D and steroid hormones.
So, cholesterol is not a bad thing, is it?
However, if the total content of cholesterol in blood is too high, the probability of cardiovascular diseases will increase.
LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol is commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol.
Usually it constitutes 60 – 70% of total cholesterol.
Its function is to transport cholesterol to all cells of the body, where it is used to produce hormones.
LDL fraction also transports cholesterol to epithelial cells of blood vessels.
If there is too much cholesterol, it starts to accumulate in the arteries in the form of atherosclerotic plaque.
Clinical trials confirm that LDL cholesterol is the most important risk factor associated with the development of atherosclerosis.
It is the control of the amount of this lipid fraction that is the primary goal of cardiovascular disease prevention.
In turn, HDL cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins), commonly known as “good” cholesterol, is responsible for transporting cholesterol from body cells (including the epithelium of vessels) to the liver.
HDL cholesterol fraction collects excess cholesterol from the periphery, which prevents the accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
It usually accounts for 20 – 30% of the total amount of cholesterol.
For this reason, it is extremely important to maintain an adequate level of not only total cholesterol, but also HDL and LDL fractions.
Atherosclerosis is a result of accumulation of cholesterol from LDL in the inner membrane of the arteries.
Excess cholesterol goes to cells called macrophages. Macrophages filled with a lot of cholesterol are called foam cells. Under the inner membrane of the arteries there are smooth muscle cells. As a result of increasing cholesterol levels in the inner membrane of the vessels, these cells begin to produce fibrous tissue, which separates the fat layer produced within the vessel from the blood flow.
This layer of fat is additionally strengthened by calcium salts that accumulate in it. This results in a hard atherosclerotic plaque that narrows the arterial lumen and thus reduces the blood flow to key organs (e.g. the heart).
However, contrary to appearances, this is not the biggest problem.
Much more dangerous are soft atherosclerotic plaques, i.e. those which do not yet have a fibrous cover.
Well, soft atherosclerotic plaques tend to crack.
In such a situation, the content of the plaque is poured into the lumen of the vessel and a clot is formed, which may partially or completely close the arterial lumen.
Atherosclerosis most often develops in the coronary arteries (supplying blood to the heart rich in oxygen and nutrients) and leads to the development of coronary heart disease (ischemic heart disease).
If it happens that the soft atherosclerotic plaque breaks and its contents form a clot that closes the lumen of the coronary artery, then we are talking about a heart attack .
Of course, atherosclerosis can occur in the arteries in the whole body.
If atherosclerosis develops in the carotid arteries, an ischemic stroke may occur in the brain.
The blockage of blood flow under the influence of atherosclerotic plaque may also occur in the arteries supplying blood to the lower and upper limbs, renal arteries or the artery supplying blood to the intestines (mesenteric).
Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death and disability in developed countries.
What will affect cholesterol levels?
The truth is that lipid profile disorders are most often the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.
A diet rich in saturated fatty acids, trans-fatty acids, simple sugars and alcohol is the key culprit.
Lack of physical activity has a particular impact on the decrease in HDL levels and the increase in triglycerides.
Smoking is an independent and powerful risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
Quitting addiction contributes to lowering the LDL cholesterol level and increasing the cholesterol level in the HDL fraction.
Until a few years ago, particular attention was paid to high levels of cholesterol in the diet as an element contributing to an increase in plasma cholesterol levels.
However, recent research has shown that food cholesterol is not as important as it was previously thought.
Of course, genetic conditions are also important.
Therefore, if you have dyslipidemia before the age of 50, you should pay special attention to your diet and exercise regularly.
Remember: with the right actions we can calm down certain genes and prevent the development of serious diseases. Environmental factors, i.e. our behaviour, are of great importance here!
Cholesterol levels may be additionally affected by coexisting diseases (e.g. diabetes, problems with thyroid gland or kidneys) and medications taken.
I have high cholesterol! – What’s next?
The recommendations of all cardiac institutions recommend that diet should be the first element of treatment of hypercholesterolemia.
In addition to the dietary changes, it is also extremely important to introduce regular physical activity, stop smoking and eliminate or reduce the amount of alcohol consumed as much as possible.
Hard to Adhere to Healthy Eating Principles
It looks good. A healthy diet, combined with exercise, smoking cessation and alcohol withdrawal, seems to control cholesterol very well.
But few people can stick to this practice.
Unfortunately, the problem is that patients are rarely willing to use these natural methods, so they will soon return to their doctors to take statins (drugs that lower cholesterol levels).
Healthy diet can not only reduce cholesterol level, but also reduce overweight and prevent type 2 diabetes or cancer.
This may not be as simple as going to a pharmacy to buy drugs, but I guarantee that it is much more beneficial to health than you think (by the way, statins have side effects like other drugs).
What is the effect of diet on cholesterol regulation?
Despite the widespread resistance to changes in diet, fortunately more and more patients are aware of their unfavorable eating habits.
Such people decide to prevent further negative consequences of their actions and introduce healthy changes in the diet.
According to the doctor’s recommendation, after a few weeks of dietary use it is necessary to re-examine the cholesterol level. It may happen that the results improve, but not as much as we would like.
Why is this happening?
Well, the effectiveness of nutritional therapy depends on several factors.
The most important are the individual genetic conditions of the patient, the initial level of cholesterol and its individual fractions and the degree of changes introduced.
Genetic conditions influence how effectively we metabolize the consumed fats and cholesterol.
Simply put, on the surface of cells there are cholesterol receptors, which bind and remove this component.
If we have large quantities of such receptors, even a less healthy diet, in which there is a lot of saturated fats will not cause disorders in the lipid profile, because we are still doing very well with the metabolism of cholesterol.
On the other hand, there are also unlucky people who have a small amount of cholesterol receptors – in their case, dietary mistakes will be clearly reflected in the results of the lipid profile.
Most people are in the middle and have a moderate amount of cholesterol receptors.
Isn’t it worth introducing a diet in this situation?
The latest research shows that the introduction of standard recommendations contributes to the reduction of cholesterol levels by an average of 5 – 10%.
So it is easy to count that while at slightly elevated cholesterol levels the effect will be satisfactory, at larger disorders the diet itself may turn out to be a weak solution.
The above standard recommendations are the basis from which to start.
Thanks to this we reduce the amount of unfavourable ingredients (trans fats, saturated fatty acids, simple sugars, alcohol) affecting the increase in cholesterol levels and increase the amount of ingredients positively influencing individual parameters of the lipid profile (dietary fiber, mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids).
In some people, these changes may have a super effect (especially if the previous eating habits were much to be desired).
If, however, it turns out that these basic modifications are insufficient, we have additional options.
Nutrients that help you effectively lower cholesterol levels
Scientific studies have shown that there are nutrients that can contribute in a particular way to lowering cholesterol levels even in those who have been shown to be ineffective in following the standard procedure. These ingredients are:
- Soluble fraction of dietary fibre (fibre)
- Sterols and plant sterols
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Soy protein
- Bioactive compounds contained in fruit and vegetables
Foods that help lower cholesterol
A healthy diet can help you suppress Bad cholesterol and control cholesterol levels.
The main cholesterol-destroying substance in oats, called “Beta-polydextrose”, is a soluble fiber that can hinder the production and absorption of cholesterol.
Studies have found that eating only 2/3 cups of dry oatmeal a day can reduce cholesterol by 16%.
When you want to eat meat, I suggest you eat fish. In many ways, omgea-3 fatty acid in fish is good for heart.
Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce blood pressure, triglyceride and prevent stroke.
Olive oil is the best choice because its unit unsaturated fatty acid can reduce cholesterol, but it can maintain a good amount of cholesterol. Other such as canola oil have the same effect.
Milk is rich in Orotic acid and calcium. It can not only inhibit cholesterol deposition on arterial wall, but also inhibit cholesterol synthesis activity in human body and reduce cholesterol production.
Corn is rich in calcium, phosphorus, selenium, lecithin, vitamin E, etc., which have the effect of reducing serum cholesterol.
Polyphenols in green tea and oolong tea can improve good cholesterol. In the experiment of Pu ‘er tea extract, it was also found that it can reduce the amount of cholesterol in blood.
Apples and other fruits rich in pectin can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL).
Lentinus edodes can obviously reduce the levels of serum cholesterol, triglyceride and low density lipoprotein. Regular consumption of Lentinus edodes can make the high density lipoprotein in the body have a relative increasing trend.
Beans are the cheapest, most common and most effective anti-cholesterol food in nature. Eating 28g of beans every day can reduce 10% of total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride.
To reduce cholesterol, soybean products such as tofu, soybean milk and miso can be included in daily diet.
People with family cardiovascular diseases should not forget to put a large piece of marinated tofu into the plate when eating buffet at noon every day.
Researchers in new york have found that garlic can reduce both total cholesterol and bad cholesterol.
Experiments in Seattle also found that taking one garlic oil pill equivalent to 3 cloves of garlic every day can also increase good cholesterol by 23%.
The recommended daily dose for prevention of cardiovascular diseases is a medium clove of garlic.
Regular consumption of wax gourd can remove excess body fat and reduce weight.
Grape, grape juice and wine contain a kind of resveratrol, which is a natural substance that can reduce cholesterol.
Animal experiments also prove that it can reduce cholesterol and inhibit platelet aggregation, so Portugal is one of the best foods for patients with hyperlipidemia.
There is a soluble fiber in grapefruit that can reduce LDL. Eating two and a half cups of grapefruit pulp a day can reduce LDL by 10%.
Foods containing soluble fiber can increase cholesterol excretion, such as agaric, mushrooms, kelp, and foreign vegetables.
In addition to calcium, phosphorus, iron, sugar and protein, vitamins A and C, leeks also contain carotene and a large number of fibers, which can enhance gastrointestinal peristalsis, have a good laxative effect, and can eliminate excessive nutrition in the intestinal tract, including excess fat.
Studies on the influence of flaxseed consumption indicate that 15 – 50g of flax seeds per day contribute to the reduction of total cholesterol and LDL fraction by 1.6 – 18% without significant influence on HDL and triglyceride cholesterol levels.
Of course, the effect depends on the dose of flax seeds and the initial cholesterol levels.
What is interesting, there are no such beneficial effects in terms of so popular linseed oil, i.e. fat isolated from linseed seeds.
Of course, this is not to let you simply eat a certain food, but to make your own balanced diet.
Other dietary recommendations for cholesterol
Choose first of all the most natural products.
The basis should be large quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain cereals, nuts and seeds, legumes.
Eat moderate amounts of fatty marine fish, vegetable oils, dried fruit, lean meats and skimmed dairy products.
Limit the maximum amount of sweets, salty snacks, fatty meats and their preserves, fatty dairy products and juices and beverages.
Remember about regular physical activity
Choose a sport that gives you fun.
At the beginning it can be a walk, as long as it is performed on most days of the week (preferably every day) for at least 30 – 40 minutes.
If you smoke, do everything you can to quit
Smoking may waste all your healthy diet.
Over time, smoking damages you in other ways, too. It:
- Clogs your arteries
- Increases clotting
- Fills your lungs with tar
- Thickens your blood
- Weakens your bones
- Increases inflammation
- Weakens your immune system
Try our healthy diet advice
- Eat soya products (soya drink instead of cow’s milk, tofu instead of cheese, add soya to lunches and salads, make sandwich pastes out of it),
- If the amount of triglycerides is too high, introduce trance into the diet (3g daily provide an adequate dose of omega 3 fatty acids, which have an antiatherosclerotic and anti-inflammatory effect),
- Eat more sources of soluble fibre (the best ones are dry pulses, oat and barley flakes, vegetables and fruits – especially apples and citrus)
- Do not butter bread when it is impossible to do so, consider adding butter from mixed avocados or margarine enriched with vegetable sterols
- Use as little vegetable oils as possible – reach mainly for natural sources of healthy fats (avocados, olives, nuts and seeds)
- Include a handful of almonds in your diet every day
- Eat at least 7 portions of fruit and vegetables each day (this infographics will help you identify the portions)
Cholesterol is divided into High-density lipoprotein cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol has a protective effect on cardiovascular diseases, commonly known as “good cholesterol”. If low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is high, the risk of coronary heart disease will increase, commonly known as “Bad cholesterol”.
Cholesterol content in blood is between 140-199 milligrams per unit, which is a relatively normal cholesterol level.
High cholesterol levels can lead to heart diseases and do great harm to health.
A healthy and balanced diet is very helpful for cholesterol control.
In addition, you have to do proper exercise, quit smoking, stop drinking, etc.
If you have problems with cholesterol, please consult a professional doctor. This article is limited to:
- Improve your knowledge of cholesterol;
- Give some advice on your cholesterol diet.
Howtobehealth.net‘s article cannot replace doctors’ treatment and advice. Please consult a professional doctor when facing the disease.