How Diet affects Cholesterol

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is made by the liver and used for a variety of jobs such as producing hormones or breaking down fatty foods. Here are the three main types of cholesterol that can be found in our bodies:

 

LDL cholesterol: Short for low-density lipoprotein, LDL is considered “bad” cholesterol because high levels of it can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, which can, in turn, lead to heart disease and stroke. LDL cholesterol makes up the majority of the body’s cholesterol.

HDL cholesterol: Short for high-density lipoprotein, HDL is the “good” cholesterol—higher levels can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol and sends it back to the liver, which flushes it through the body.

Triglycerides: Triglycerides are a type of fat in the bloodstream that the body uses for energy. If high levels of triglycerides are combined with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol, it can increase heart attack and stroke risk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our body produces all of the cholesterol we need to stay healthy. With this in mind, it is important to our well-being to monitor and maintain healthy cholesterol levels throughout our life.

Cholesterol intake from diet has concerned doctors for a long time, as some dietary choices have been found to contain high amounts of cholesterol. Although scientists have not been able to conclude whether dietary cholesterol increases the amount of cholesterol in our bloodstream, they recommend that we do not intake a significant amount of cholesterol from our diet.

Whether you are trying to lower your current cholesterol levels or limit your cholesterol intake altogether, here are some tips to increase your HDL cholesterol and lower your LDL cholesterol.

Tips for Managing Cholesterol through Diet

  • Limit foods high in saturated fat. Foods that are higher in saturated fat may be high in cholesterol. Saturated fats are generally found in animal products (such as cheese, fatty meats, dairy, etc.), some oils and fried foods. Also, avoid fast foods.
  • Choose foods that contain unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fat is termed the “healthy” fat, as it has been linked to numerous health benefits, including managing HDL/LDL cholesterol levels. Foods like avocados, olives and fatty fishes contain healthy unsaturated fats.
  • Eat foods naturally high in fiber. A diet rich in fiber will help prevent your intestines from absorbing excess fiber. Foods such as oatmeal, fruits and legumes (black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, etc) are naturally high in fiber.
  • Eat a balanced diet. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can increase cholesterol-lowering compounds in your body.

Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your diet or cholesterol levels.

Schedule an appointment with a Revere Health Internal Medicine provider today!

Sources:

How it’s made: Cholesterol production in your body.” Harvard Medical School.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/how-its-made-cholesterol-production-in-your-body

 

“About Cholesterol.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/about.htm

 

“Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020.” Department of Health and Human Services.

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf

 

“How to Lower Cholesterol with Diet.” MedlinePlus.gov.

https://medlineplus.gov/howtolowercholesterolwithdiet.html

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.

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