Cholesterol – LDL vs. HDL
High cholesterol is a common problem among many adults worldwide. Cholesterol levels serve important functions in the body such as release of certain hormones and production of cells. However, a high level of cholesterol can cause clogging up of the arteries, leading to the risk of coronary disorders.
It must be understood that there are two types of cholesterol – High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) and Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL). Excess LDL cholesterol levels causes clogging up of the arteries and is known as bad cholesterol. On the other hand, HDL cholesterol helps in recycling and production of hormones and cells. It is necessary to keep HDL cholesterol levels at an optimum, while reducing LDL cholesterol levels.
While individual genes are responsible for cholesterol production in the body, a diet can also play a huge factor in determining cholesterol levels. If consumption of saturated fats and trans fats is high, the levels of LDL cholesterol shoot up, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and cardiac arrest.
In order to keep cholesterol levels within appropriate limits, manmade fatty foods and processed fats must be avoided as far as possible. However, every diet requires a balance and must include some amount of fats in it. As such, one must look to replace saturated fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
It is important to keep portions in check and resort to foods which contain healthy fats. Here are some of the foods which need to be avoided to keep cholesterol levels in check:
- Full fat dairy products such as cream cheese, butter and other milk products
- Hard margarines
- Fatty meat products, such as hamburgers which contain red meat
- Fried and processed meat
- Commercial baked goods such as snacks, cookies, muffins, crackers which contain hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Organ meats such as kidneys and livers
- Fast foods
- Microwave popcorn
- Cheese and macaroni
- French fries
- Ice cream
- Egg yolks
While avoiding these foods can help lower LDL cholesterol levels, you must also look to exercise regularly to keep cholesterol levels in check.
In the next section, we have outlined some of the foods that you can safely include in your diet to keep cholesterol levels in check.
Top foods for a high cholesterol diet
Here are some of the top foods that can improve your cholesterol numbers:
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Found in fish such as herring, mackerel, trout, tuna, sardines, halibut and salmon
- Monounsaturated fats: Found in nuts, sunflower oil, olive oil, canola oil and avocados
- High fiber foods: Found in bran, oatmeal, prunes, kidney beans, pears and apples
- Polyunsaturated fats: Found in nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios and cashews
- Plant sterols: Found in yoghurt, orange juice and some types of low fat dairy products
- Whey protein
These mentioned foods can help lower LDL cholesterol levels, while keeping HDL cholesterol levels at appropriate levels. Ensure to include these foods in a high cholesterol diet.