High Cholesterol levels is the cause of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Almost 100 million Americans have cholesterol levels over 200, of these about 34.5 million have cholesterol levels of 240 or above. |
But there is good news for these people. You can control the risk for heart disease by eating foods that contain less saturated fat and cholesterol. This is an efficient way to reduce the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
Facts about Cholesterol People in general think that cholesterol is bad for you. But as a matter of fact, your body need cholesterol, which is produced in the liver to make cell membranes, sex hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D. You couldn’t live without it. Cholesterol is found in animal foods such as meats, milk, eggs and butter. But if you get too much of it, it becomes dangerous.
This is particularly true for the type of cholesterol called low-density lipoprotein (LDL).When LDL cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream, it undergoes a process called oxidation. In other words, it spoils and becomes rancid. Your immune system react to it as it would to any other invader. Immune cells gobble up the cholesterol molecules. Once engorged, they stick to the walls of arteries, and hardening into a dense, fatty layer called plaque.When a lot of plaque accumulates, there is less room for blood to flow. Eventually blood flow may slow down and could even stop. When this happens in the arteries that supply the heart, the result is a heart attack. When it happens in the arteries supplying the brain, the result is a stroke.
Your body has a mechanism for dealing with this threat. Another form of cholesterol, called high-density lipoprotein, (HDL), transports the dangerous type of cholesterol out of the blood and into the liver for disposal. Normally, it does a good job One study found that every one-point rise in HDL cholesterol protects the heart at least as much as a point drop in LDL cholesterol, reducing risk of a fatal heart attack by 2%. But when cholesterol levels get too high, the HDL cholesterol can’t keep up, and LDL gradually rises to dangerous levels.
Ideally, you want to have high levels of HDL cholesterol and low levels of the dangerous LDL. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends keeping total cholesterol below 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood. Actually, LDL should be below 130, and HDL should be above 40. An HDL above 60 would be even better to protect against disease.
A good way to keep your blood cholesterol level within healthy limits is to eat no more than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day (a little more than the amount in 11/2 egg yorks). But because the body itself makes cholesterol, limiting the amount of cholesterol in your diet is only part of the solution.
Saturated and Monounsaturated Fat “The component in food that has the most effect on blood cholesterol levels is saturated fat”, says Mark Kentor, PhD, of the University of Maryland, College Park. Saturated fats, which are found mostly in animal foods such as red meats, milk, egg yolks, butter and cheese, can increase the amount of harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the bloodstream as well as the total amount of cholesterol.
Every day, the Average American eats the fat equivalent of a full stick of butter. Experts strongly recommend to decrease the amount of fat in your diet.
But there is one time of fat you can eat moderate amounts of and that is monounsaturated fat, which you find in avocados, olive oil and canola oil. It can lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol, while leaving the beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) untouched.
Researchers have known for a long time that people in Mediterranian countries where olive oil is consumed every day, have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world, even when their cholesterol levels are fairly high.
But we can’t give all the credit to olive oil for all the benefits. People in the Mediterranian region also eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, plus they walk more than Americans and are less likely to be overweight.If you decide to add more olive ol to your diet, use it in moderation, and cut back on all fats.
Health benefits of Nuts One of the many health benefits of nuts is their ability to reduce the level of LDL cholesterol.an Scientists at the USDA found that nuts contain significant levels of nutrients called plant sterols. These nutrients can lower LDL cholesterol, possibly by keeping your digestive system from absuntorbing the cholesterol in the foods you eat. Researchers in Canada found that when people with high cholesterol levels in their blood, ate 1.8 grams of plant sterols a day, their cholesterol levels dropped by 8%.
You can find sterols in sesame seeds, 144 mg, sunflower seeds, 104 mg and pistachios, 83 mg. in 1/4 cup. Coconut got a bad reputation because it contains more saturated fat than butter, however, more than half of the saturated fat in coconuts is lauric acid. Research discovered that even though lauric acid raises LDL cholesterol, it boosts HDL cholesterol even more.the al So in the long run, this is good for your overall cholesterol profile.
An even more favorable nut than the coconut is the almond. Researchers at Tufts University found that the skin of almonds are rich in antioxidants that help to remove LDL cholesterol. They found that extract of almond skin flavonoids reduced LDL oxidation by 18 % in hamsters.
Eat one to two fistfuls of almonds per day. This amount – 1 to 2 ounces – or raw, unblanchedalmonds each day gives a significant reduction of cholesterol in a University of Toronto study. Even better: the addition of this amount of almonds to the diet didn’t result in any weight gain.
Fiber Support Besides eating whole grains, beans and fresh fruits to help keep your digestive system in top shape, you will also reduce your cholesterol level by eating these foods. They are filled with soluble fiber, a substance that forms a gummy gel in the digestive tract, which helps lower cholesterol levels.
Researchers from the USDA put 25 people on heart-healthy diets for 5 weeks. They gave some of the people 3 grams of soluble fiber each day from barley – about the amount in a half-cup. When compared with the other people, who didn’t get the barley, their total cholesterol level dropped by 9%.
The Daily Value of fiber is 25 grams. This is equivalent to eating 2 to 4 servings of fruits, 3 to 5 servings of vegetables and 6 to 11 servings of breads, cereals and grains each day. Eating oatmeal or oat bran cereal several times a week will add even more soluble fiber to your diet. Other good sources of soluble fiber include pinto beans, red kidney beans, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes.
Benefits from milk and wine. These two very different beverages may help improve cholesterol levels. Fat free or low-fat milk is best. According to a research, after 4 weeks of consuming 1,060 mg of calcium, 490 mg of phosphorus ( a combination found in dairy products) in supplement form, the cholesterol levels of healthy people were reduced by 6%, compared with people who didn’t get the supplements. One 8-ounce glass of milk contains about a third of the amounts taken in the study.
Another study, conducted in Boston, found that drinking an average of 5 wine drinks a week cut the risk of having dangerously low HDL levels by a whopping 78%. It’s important to keep in mind that drinking more heavily can raise blood pressure, which is another risk factor for heart disease, and can have other damaging effects on your health.
Asian Super food Asian people eat soybeans and other soy products like tofu, which contain a compound called phytostrogens, which lowers total cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol levels. These compounds help to transport LDL cholesterol from the blood stream to the liver, where it’s broken down and excreted. They also may prevent LDL from oxidizing, which helps to avoid clogging of coronary arteries. To get the benefits of lowering cholesterol levels you have to eat two or three servings of soy foods per day.
Marine Support Besides watching your cholesterol levels, there is another factor to watch: your level of blood fats called triglycerides. People with high levels of triglycerides are more likely to have low levels of protective HDL. Conversely, lowering your level of triglycerides can help decrease your risk of heart disease.
Salmon, tuna, mackerel and other oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have proved to lower triglycerides. Omega-3 may raise levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol as well.Fish is also low in calories and saturated fat. To get the maximum benefits from omega-3s, plan on eating 3 to 4 ounces of fish two times a week.
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