Now-a-days high cholesterol is a world epidemic! Cholesterol in normal amounts is important for the functioning of our tissues, organs and hormones. However, in high quantities, cholesterol could lead to cardiovascular disease and even death. The majority of people focus more in the things we should not do or eat in order to avoid an increase in cholesterol. While there may not be anything wrong with this approach, sometimes if we were to focus on the positive foods or habits that can actually help reduce the cholesterol, we would have more efficient results.
So how do we fight against this “giant” called cholesterol? Well, we can fight it by choosing the “positive” foods that help balance the production and elimination of cholesterol in our bodies and also by avoiding the “negative” ones that produce the contrary. Today, we will focus on only the “positive” foods.
First, understand that our body produces 3 types of cholesterol: the LDL, also called the “bad cholesterol”, VLDL or “triglycerides” and the HDL called the “good cholesterol”. We can say that the HDL “cleans” the LDL that in high amounts can clog an artery or vain and eventually, cause a stroke or heart attack.
The considered normal amounts of cholesterol in blood are:
Total-Cholesterol —> equal to or less than 200mg/dl
LDL-C —> equal to or less than 100mg/dl
VLDL-C —> equal to or less than 150mg/dl
HDL-C —> more than 40mg/dl (men) or more than 50mg/dl (women)
Relation of Total Cholesterol/HDL-C —> less than 4.5
There are some nutrients that help reduce LDL and others that help raise the HDL. These are:
• “Fiber”: helps eliminate cholesterol. It also helps control blood sugar levels and helps eliminate sodium. Foods that contain high amount of fiber are: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts. The best results come from eating these foods raw.
• “Isoflavones” : this is a nutrient or phytochemical that acts as an antioxidant found in soy and soy products.
• “Monounsaturated fats” : also called omega 9 fatty acids. These raise our HDL and lower our LDL. They can be found in olive oil, soy, canola oil, avocado, almonds and peanuts.
• “Polyunsaturated fats” : also called omega3 and omega6 fatty acids are found in soy, walnuts and hazelnuts, seeds such as flaxseed and sesame, in vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, corn oil and grape oil. These help reduce LDL.
• “Vitamin C”: Helps reduce LDL and VLDL cholesterol. Found in vegetables and fruits such us green pepper, kiwi, broccoli, kale, orange, strawberries, cauliflower, tomato, and other cols and citric fruits.
• “Vitamin E” : Works as an antioxidant. Found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. Specially: wheat germ, almonds, walnuts and sunflower
• “Grapes”: grapes and grape juice act as an antioxidant.
• “Calcium”: Calcium carbonate reduces LDL and raises HDL. Vit. C can be found in fortified products such as orange juice, almond and soy milk. Also found in almonds, whole grains, legumes, green leave vegetables, cols and some seaweed. To avoid lose of vit. C is best to eat them raw.
• “Beta-carotenes” : phytochemical found in orange and yellow fruits or vegetables and in vegetables with green leaves. There is higher amounts of beta-carotenes in carrots, sweet peppers, tomatoes, butternut squash, melon, papaya, mango, spinach and watercress.
Summarizing, these are the “positive” foods
- Nuts (specially almonds, hazelnut, walnuts and peanuts)
- Almond milk
- Soy and soy products like tofu or soy milk.
- Seeds (specially sunflower, flaxseed and sesame)
- Fruits and vegetables (specially yellow, orange, cols and green leaves) like oranges and other citric fruits, kiwi, strawberry, melon, tomato, papaya, melon, sweet peppers, squash, broccoli and cauliflower, spinach, watercress and kale
- Vegetable oils (specially olive oil, avocado, canola, sunflower and grape)
- Whole grains, wheat germ.
- Grapes and grape juice
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