Cholesterol, a fatty substance that circulates in the blood is an important component of human cells.
It plays a major role in the production of vitamin D, bile acids that aids in digestion and absorption of the vitamins and in the formation of hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.
Our body produces about 75% of cholesterol and we achieve the remaining 25% through food.
Cholesterol floats around your blood in two different forms: the Low-density lipoprotein, LDL and High-density lipoprotein, HDL cholesterol.
Everyone should know their LDL and HDL levels because they provide you a more specific estimate of the risk of developing arterial blockages. People with elevated levels of LDL are more likely suffer from heart attacks. Every 10mg increase in LDL per decilitre (dL) of blood, the risk of heart attack increases by almost 20%. Higher level of HDL, the good cholesterol, will lower the risk of cardiac events.
Your body requires some amount of cholesterol to function, but in LDL cholesterol in higher levels along with other substances can deposit as plaque within the walls of the arteries, causing these pipes get narrower and less flexible. This condition is called “atherosclerosis.” If a clot forms it will block the narrowed artery that results in a heart attack or stroke.
It is apparent that as your blood cholesterol rises, your risk for heart diseases also increases. High blood pressure, diabetes and smoking will further increase the risk.
Do you know that high cholesterol, the major risk factors of heart attack and stroke can be controlled?
Regular exercise and right type of diet will help increase the HDL cholesterol and reduce the LDL cholesterol at the same time.
Start your aerobics now and within 2 months you will see an increase in HDL by 5%. Any exercise that increase your heart rate like: brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing will help increase the HDL in the blood.
Why is HDL that very important?
HDL, the good cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries. Enjoy your brisk exercise every day, 30 minutes, to reap the benefit of HDL.
Saturated foods not only high in calories but also will increase the blood LDL cholesterol.
Limit the consumption of foods high in saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol, like:
- Desiccated coconut, Coconut oil, palm oil, cheese, cocoa butter that are high in saturated fats
- Margarine a partially hydrogenated, is high in trans-fat that elevates the LDL cholesterol and lowers HDL cholesterol.
- Butter, animal fats (tallow (beef fat), lard (pork fat), duck fat, goose fat), beef, lamb, pork, chicken with skin, whole milk are high in saturated fats and cholesterol as well.
- Baked foods are high in saturated fats and trans-fats. Some food labels may show low in cholesterol. But they may contain more trans-fat and saturated fat. So, read the food label before you add on to your cart.
American Heart Association recommends 5-6% of calories from saturated fat. That means 13g / 120 calories from saturated for 2000 calories a day.
Swap out high saturated fats for their lower-fat counterparts, like skimmed milk, lean meat, chicken without skin, and fish. Do you know celery helps reduce the LDL cholesterol. A handful of nuts everyday, will help increase the HDL cholesterol and decrease the LDL cholesterol in the blood!
Use sunflower, safflower, olive oil for cooking. Extra virgin olive oil will help control blood glucose and cholesterol after meal. Sounds great!
The best alternatives to replace saturated fats:
- Whole grains
- Lean meat, poultry without skin, fish
- Nuts & seeds
- Fruits & vegetables
- Low-fat dairy products