The liver produces cholesterol naturally, which is then carried through the body with proteins in the bloodstream. Cholesterol is an essential component of cell membranes, and it also aids in the production of hormones, vitamin D, and substances that facilitate the digestion of fatty foods. However, certain lifestyles and genetic factors can lead to excessive cholesterol in the body.
When cholesterol (especially LDL) accumulates in the arteries, it can impede blood flow and cause various cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet can help control cholesterol levels. This article will explain the relationship between cholesterol and fats, identify which foods contain high cholesterol levels, and suggest foods to avoid when you have high cholesterol issues.
Cholesterol Types and Relationship with Food
Two types of cholesterol differ depending on the type of protein that transports them through the bloodstream: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Generally, when you have high cholesterol issues, you have a high amount of LDL. LDLs deposit one type of cholesterol throughout the body. That cholesterol can build up in the arteries and lead to severe complications if it builds up in blood vessels.
As a result, this kind of cholesterol gets referred to as “bad” cholesterol. In contrast, HDLs collect LDL cholesterol from the arteries and bring it back to the liver for disposal. As a result, HDL cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol.
Avoiding foods with high cholesterol may still benefit some, but it may not be practical for everyone. Hence, the American Heart Association (AHA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest focusing on unsaturated fats rather than saturated and trans fats as the most effective dietary approach to cutting blood cholesterol.
Fat Types and Relationship with Cholesterol
People should be mindful of their dietary fat intake, both in quantity and source, when aiming to maintain a balance of low LDL and high HDL cholesterol levels. Fatty acids bind to liver cells and regulate cholesterol production, making fat a critical factor in promoting the desired cholesterol balance.
Saturated fats, primarily found in meat and dairy products, instruct the liver to produce more LDL cholesterol.
Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, are more commonly found in fish, plants, nuts, seeds, beans, and vegetable oils and can help boost the rate at which the liver reabsorbs and breaks down LDL cholesterol.
Trans fats, solid vegetable oils artificially processed through hydrogenation, are often found in fried foods, baked goods, and packaged foods. Sadly, trans fats increase LDL cholesterol and reduce HDL cholesterol, making them an unhealthy choice.
Foods to Avoid During High Cholesterol Issues
Experts recommend that those with high cholesterol avoid large portions of red meat, poultry and processed foods with trans fats. These items are sources of LDL cholesterol and can significantly impact your health with only one serving. Of course, eating out now and then is okay, but it should not become a habit.
Butter, a dairy product derived from milk fats, is a rich source of LDL cholesterol, which can impede the proper functioning of our blood vessels. On the other hand, the type of oil consumed can primarily affect our cholesterol levels.
Contrary to popular belief, coconut oil is detrimental to heart health, as various studies indicate that it increases both good and bad cholesterol. Thus, people with high cholesterol must either avoid it or take it in moderation if necessary.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that people with high cholesterol limit their intake of saturated fat to no more than 6% of their total daily calories.
Sometimes it gets confusing for you to know how much of what to avoid while embarking on a healthy eating regimen. Therefore, it is always good to take advice from health and fitness specialists like HealthifyMe.
A piece of advice from a nutritionist can help you identify the right kind of fats to incorporate into your diet. Also, how you structure your plate can significantly affect your nutritional profile. The right combination of protein, fibre, complex carbs, and an acceptable amount of good fat can improve your health.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- Fatty beef
- Poultry with skin
- Dairy products made from whole or low-fat milk
- Saturated vegetable oils include coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil.
One must also avoid trans fats. You can find them in the following:
- Packaged cookies
- Potato chips
- Commercially fried foods
- Buttered popcorn
- Products containing partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils
Cholesterol in Foods
It is also important to note that dietary cholesterol has a limited effect on cholesterol levels after several hours.
So it is best to avoid foods like red meat, sausages, bacon, and organ meats, such as kidney and liver, which are high in saturated fat and sodium.
Lifestyle Habits to Avoid During High Cholesterol Issues
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you should be aware that extended periods of sitting can lead to obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It is due to decreased levels of good cholesterol and increased triglyceride levels, which can help reduce bad cholesterol.
To counteract these risks, you should incorporate regular physical activity into your routine, take breaks to stand up and move around every 30 minutes if you work at a desk, or consider using a standing desk.
Although sitting requires less energy than standing or walking, studies have shown that moderate exercise can make a big difference. It helps you burn more calories and also helps to maintain muscle tone, mobility, and mental well-being, especially as you age.
Foods to Eat to Lower Cholesterol Levels
Eating high-fibre foods can be beneficial in reducing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the body.
These plant-based substances are not entirely digestible, so they remain in the body for longer and help to remove the bad cholesterol (LDL) molecules. In addition to reducing LDL, high-fibre foods can also help us feel full for longer, leading to fat loss and weight loss.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce triglyceride levels and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
You can get Omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish, walnuts, and other plant-based sources. They are unsaturated fats that are beneficial for the body. They help reduce LDL and triglycerides and also increase HDL levels.
Polyunsaturated fats, like Omega-3 fatty acids, are also unsaturated. Therefore, they are a healthier alternative to saturated fats.
You can find them in plant-based sources like nuts, avocados, and vegetable oils. These fats also reduce LDL and triglyceride levels while increasing HDL levels.
Monounsaturated fats are another type of unsaturated fat. One can find them in plant-based sources like olive oil, nuts, and avocados. They are known to reduce LDL levels and raise HDL levels, resulting in healthy cholesterol levels.
Soybean-based meals can provide essential healthy fats for those who choose not to eat animal products.
Soy is an ideal mix of beneficial fat and fibre and can reduce LDL levels and increase HDL levels in individuals with high cholesterol. It is an incredibly effective remedy for those who suffer from cholesterol issues.
Drink Enough Water
It is no secret that water is a miracle drink with numerous benefits. However, recent studies have found that drinking water rich in hydrogen is one of the most effective ways to lower LDL levels.
Experts recommend drinking 3-4 litres of water daily for those with cholesterol-related issues. It helps to decrease inflammation, thus promoting improved blood flow and reducing stress on the blood vessels.
The HealthifyMe Note
Limiting foods high in cholesterol and trans and unsaturated fats, such as red meat, poultry with skin, and full-fat dairy products, is an effective way of managing cholesterol levels. Incorporating a healthy diet rich in fibre, whole fruits and vegetables, and lean protein sources can help maintain optimal cholesterol levels and promote overall wellness. The body naturally produces the optimal amount of cholesterol on its own.
At this very moment, millions worldwide are unaware of the seriousness of their cholesterol levels. We must become aware of health concerns that can become dangerous or even life-threatening if left unchecked.
To best protect ourselves, we must try to live a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and moderate exercise. Taking these steps can help us avoid cholesterol and other health problems.
Health fundamentals, when decoded, are straightforward. The human body is equivalent to a machine that needs fuel, which is food, and regular maintenance.
Talking to the coaches at HealthifyMe, the advice seems extremely simple. For example, incorporate walking every 2 hours if you have a desk job. Walking around your desk and walking up to colleagues instead of sending them a text, taking the stairs instead of using the elevator, carrying a bottle of water and keeping yourself hydrated are small measures that go a long way.
You can subscribe to the HealthifyPRO 2.0 plan. It comes with the CGM. Interestingly, even without any pre-existing condition, a CGM helps you record the spikes in your blood glucose levels due to food, stress and activity inputs.
So if it is regular and does not have too many fluctuations, you know that you are metabolically healthy. In that case, your possibility of developing high cholesterol, BP, diabetes and lifestyle risks automatically nullifies.
It is time to look at your intrinsic health and the combination of technological advancements and accessible medical science you can access through your mobile device. HealthifyMe helps you achieve wellness at the click of a button.