What is cholesterol, exactly? Cholesterol belongs to a group of organic compounds called sterols that are combination of alcohol and steroids. To simply put, it is a substance very similar to fat.
Found in foods of animal origin, our blood, brain and nervous system. It is located in the cell membranes of all tissues and is essential for normal functioning of the whole organism.
For example, the body uses cholesterol for the synthesis of hormones, vitamins (A, D and E) ant the acids in the gallbladder. It helps to build new cells and also isolates the nerves.
Because of its importance and need, 80% of the overall cholesterol is produced by our body and some percent is gained trough the food we intake.
Synthesized cholesterol, and the one who is gained from the food, goes to the liver where it combines with certain proteins and thereby develops in a form of etc. LDL and HDL cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol is distributed to every cell and tissue in the human body. Otherwise, LDL means Low Density Lipoproteins, or lipids (fats) with low density also known as “bad” cholesterol.
If there are any disorders in the metabolism of the organism, then the LDL cholesterol can not be adopted by the cells and then it goes directly into the blood.
If it gets in high quantities in blood it can be deposited on the walls of blood vessels in the form of infamous atherosclerotic plaques (something like layers in blood vessels).
In the body there are mechanisms that can destroy these plaques, but only if they are in the initial stage of their formation.
For this exactly s responsible the etc. HDL cholesterol (High Density Lipoproteins) known as “good” cholesterol that carries cholesterol from the blood back to the liver.
If the quantity of these fatty substances are quite large, the body fails alone to deal with them and then the level of cholesterol in the blood begins to increase. But it can never be determined without an analysis of total blood fat.
Many times, some people are not fat, don’t eat too much fatty foods, do not feel some discomfort so there is no reason to suspect that something is wrong.
But if a blood test for blood fats is made and then show that the blood fats are raised, they are left surprised and wondering what is the problem.
That is why we, from time to time, should regularly check the blood counts. So, if the level of cholesterol in the body is high, yellowish fatty balls are circulating in the blood which might get deposited on the walls of arteries and form plaque and tough constrict the arteries.
This narrowing leads to a reduction of blood flow and it can lead to certain heart problems, and even a heart attack.
The opinions of doctors about cholesterol is different, but one thing is sure, if the content of cholesterol in the body is elevated they immediately prescribe medications.
The real question is whether it is necessary?
It is important to emphasize that if you change your diet regime, you can reduce cholesterol. Whether it will happen or not is an individual, but certainly is worth to try to reduce the cholesterol in this way first.
There are two types of cholesterol, dietary and serum cholesterol. The cholesterol obtained through the diet or dietary cholesterol basically has animal origin. An example: One egg (in the bile) has 275 mg of cholesterol, while the apple none at all.
The recommended daily intake of cholesterol is 300 mg, meaning that you can freely eat one egg a day.
Serum cholesterol circulates in the blood and is determined with the help of special methods. There are two types of serum cholesterol. HDL, or “good” cholesterol is considered good because of its capability to clean arteries. Тhe more it has, the better.
LDL, or “bad” cholesterol clogs the arteries and therefore it is said to be bad. How less in present in the body, the better.
Now a few words about the diet
The choice of fat used in food preparation is the most important. Each family uses different types of fat and oil. Mainly these are: sunflower oil, olive oil, lard, butter, margarine.
Immediately worth to mention is that margarine and butter should be excluded from the diet in start. Margarine contain substances that are harmful to the body like the so called trans isomers that elevate triglyceride levels.
Each of the other types of fat has its own purpose and each is more or less useful or harmful.
The real question is what type of food should we intake, ie what food should be avoided to prevent the buildup of cholesterol in the blood, and if it is raised, how it can be reduced.
First and foremost is to reduce, but not to exclude, the intake of fat. Nutritionists say that saturated fatty acids (fats), increase the level of cholesterol and polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease it.
To clarify, the fatty acids are an integral part of each oil.
Dr. Donald McNamara, professor – nutritionist at the University of Arizona, said that saturated fatty acids are three times more harmful than dietary cholesterol.
What fats to use? Those fats containing higher content of saturated fatty acids should be avoided and to consume those containing monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Thus, olive oil, nuts, avocados, peanuts are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and are recommended to consume. It should be stressed that they should not be added to food, but the other harmful oils should be replaced by these.
They are not really cheap, but for our health it’s worth to give a penny or more. It has been scientifically proven that monounsaturated fats reduce the total “bad” cholesterol, and the “good” one, remains unchanged.
It should be reduced, but not to exclude, the consumption of eggs. At least 3 eggs a week is totally enough to eat and one egg per day is also allowed, because the bile, especially the white of the egg, contain many useful substances (proteins) for the body.
Here’s a tip. If you like omelet, make it with 1 whole egg and 2-3 egg whites. The taste will not change at all.
Food fiber and pectin reduce cholesterol
Pectin is a substance that the body does not digest, it just goes in and out of it, but with it brings the toxins and more importantly, fats. So, the pectin lowers cholesterol.
Apples has the most of it in its structure. Most food fibers are contained in bread made from whole grain or bran and so as in legumes plants such as lentils, beans, green beans, peas, so they should be regularly consumed.
It is determined that oat flakes are equally good as legumes plants. It is enough to eat half cups oat flakes in the form of some porridge, for example with skim milk, to reduce blood cholesterol.
It is recommended to eat lean beef, and that means to remove any fat from it.
For lowering the cholesterol it is great to eat more vegetables and fruits. They all contain a lot of dietary fiber, pectin, vitamins.
You should also try to consume more garlic (fresh). Some say fresh garlic act effectively against cholesterol. Thermally treated garlic loses such properties. The garlic has one problem, it is the smell, which is why many do not want it.
It is recommended to eat some 100g. fish at least twice a week. Why? Because, for example, tuna, salmon, contain many polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega-3 which prevent the formation of plaque. The omega-3 fatty acids are found in oils from flax, hemp, soy, but also in walnuts.
Reduce the coffee intake and if you are already dependent to morning coffee then try to drink filtered coffee.
Finnish researchers have shown that filtered coffee does not raise blood cholesterol. They still do not know what is the mechanism, but their subjects have confirmed it in the tests.
You might also check this article for How To Make your Coffee Healthier.
Sesame seeds, sunflower, flax, pumpkin got many popular lately these days. Almond also can be added to these. You can buy these seeds, freshly crushed, in almost every market.
If you already use a mixture of crushed seeds, it is not bad to know that they are very rich in calorie and contain a lot of fat. These fats are susceptible to spoilage, so it should be kept in the refrigerator so the best would be to grind lower doses more frequently.