When it comes to cholesterol, most people immediately think about high or bad cholesterol. However, you should know that there is a good kind of cholesterol that is needed by your body.
High-density lipoprotein is a good type of cholesterol and the type you should have. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the type of cholesterol that is harmful to your health and should be kept in check. Your total cholesterol levels are made up of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides, which is a type of fat the blood carries. HDL is like a vacuum that cleans up cholesterol in your body. When your HDL levels are healthy, it eradicates additional cholesterol and plaque buildup in the arteries and then transports it to your liver. It is then expelled from your body by your liver. In essence, this would help to lower your risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease. It is recommended that you get a cholesterol blood test when you get to 20 years of age. You must speak to your healthcare provider about getting one if you are overweight or at risk of heart conditions. The optimal HDL level is 60mg/dL or higher. When your HDL levels drop below 40mg/dL, then it is said to be low. Your aim should be to have an HDL level that is between 40 and 60 mg/dL, but the optimal level is above 60mg/dL.
How food affects cholesterol
A bowl of ice-cream at night, a steak sautéed in butter for dinner, a piece of fried chicken for lunch, and a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast are not ideal for your cholesterol levels. This is because they are sources of trans and saturated fat. They increase LDL levels in the body. What boosts your HDL are not necessarily foods. You can increase your HDL by avoiding the following;
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle
Making the right choice of food can reduce your LDL levels, which would see that you have a better HDL to LDL ratio. These are some foods that can boost your HDL levels.
The inflammatory impact of LDL cholesterol on the body is lowered with the intake of olive oil as it contains heart-healthy fat. When you are cooking at low temperatures, it is recommended that you use extra-virgin olive oil rather than other oils and fats. You should use extra-virgin olive oil in sauces and salad dressings, and to flavor your cooked foods. You can add chopped olives to soups or sprinkle them on salads. Ensure that you moderately use extra-virgin oil as it is high in calories.
Nuts, which include peanuts, pistachios, almonds, and Brazilian nuts are packed with heart-healthy fats. They are also rich in fiber and contain plant sterols. The work of plant sterols is to restrict the absorption of cholesterol in the body. You can incorporate them into your meals, or you can opt to eat one ounce or two as a snack. You can try steam-sautéed green beans with almonds and parsley if you want an elegant dish that is easy to cook or you can try a walnut and banana smoothie for a nutritious breakfast. Since nuts are high in calories, it would be best if you used a scale or a measuring cup to keep your portions in check, especially if you are watching your calories.
Even if you are not a vegetarian, you can still incorporate soy-based products into your diet is an excellent way to control your meat consumption. When you reduce the amount of meat you eat, your HDL levels are bound to increase and your LDL levels would decrease. However, this is likely because soy products ensure you eat less meat and more heart-healthy food. A great appetizer you can try is steamed salted edamame. If it is for a party or gathering, you can opt for the healthier option, which is the edamame spread.
Avocado, which is considered the most favorite food in the world is surprisingly also the healthiest. They are packed with monounsaturated fat and folate. This is the kind of healthy fat that reduces LDL and lowers the chances of having a stroke, heart disease, and heart attack. They are packed with fiber, which helps to ensure that your cholesterol is kept in check. You can add a few slices of avocado to sandwiches, chili, soups, or salads. You can also try guacamole. Ensure that you use low-calorie dippers like tomatoes, radishes, and carrots.