Cholesterol is a medical problem that most of us encounter and have to battle with at one point in our lives. So what actually is cholesterol and what role does it play in our body?
Cholesterol is a substance that exists in our cell which our body needs. It flows through our blood stream and has a waxy texture. It is common knowledge nowadays that cholesterol is not always a bad thing. There is actually good cholesterol or the high-density lipoprotein known as HDL which helps in carrying cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver. It is then processed into harmless particles.
The good cholesterol HDL helps to build cell membrane and various hormones while the bad cholesterol LDL when present in high levels in our body will clog the arteries and may cause a heart attack in due course.
Healthy Cholesterol Levels And How To Achieve It
A healthy HDL cholesterol level should be a minimum of 40 mg/dL and a healthy LDL cholesterol level should be a maximum of 200mg/dL.
The first thing you need to achieve a healthy cholesterol level and to maintain it is to first get it tested regularly. The only way to know your cholesterol level is through a blood test. Once you get the results of your cholesterol tests, you can start making changes in your lifestyle to achieve or maintain a healthy cholesterol level.
The first thing you must do is to watch your weight. Although cholesterol levels are not measured by weight, obesity is often a sign of high levels of bad cholesterol. At the same time, it does not mean that a person with an ideal weight or even under weight will have normal cholesterol levels.
How To Achieve A Healthy Cholesterol Level With Your Diet
A lot of information about cholesterol and the foods that will make your cholesterol level higher are easily available. However, it's easier to simply list the foods that will not increase your cholesterol level such as fresh fruits and vegetables especially. You should also know that there are some types of foods that can actually lower your cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol levels you can try to achieve normal cholesterol levels by consuming these foods.
Oatmeal and oat bran are some types of foods that can help to lower cholesterol level. This is because bad cholesterol levels can be lowered by soluble fiber. Experts think the reason is because fiber can help stop the absorption of cholesterol. A good amount of soluble fiber should be five to ten grams a day.
Oatmeal need not only be taken at breakfast. It can be eaten at other meals for your lunch and dinner by adding it to baked foods. Other types of soluble fiber can also help you maintain normal cholesterol level if you do not like the taste of oatmeal.
Another type of food you should include in your diet is food that contains Omega-3 fatty acids. This is because it has been found to lower the levels of triglycerides. Some types of foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids include nuts, and they are tasty additions to a healthy diet. Nuts are high in protein and fiber, which make them filling. Walnuts and almonds are also types of nuts that are good for lowering cholesterol, besides peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans and pistachios.
However, it is not recommended to consume nuts with higher amounts of fat are when trying to achieve a normal cholesterol level through your diet. These high fat nuts include Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts and some pine nuts.
As most of us know, Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in fatty fish. Some examples of fatty fish are sardines, mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring and trout. Most of these fatty fish are cold-water fish.
Besides knowing the foods you should eat to achieve a healthy and normal cholesterol level, you should also know the foods you should avoid. These foods are mostly foods that contain high cholesterol, including saturated fats and trans fats.
Bad cholesterol can found in trans fat and saturated fats and make your LDL cholesterol levels very high. That is why you should read all food labels and make sure you do not purchase and consume food that contains them. There are many types of food which contain cholesterol such as poultry, meat, eggs, milk and butter. As you cannot remove all the food with cholesterol from your diet, you should try minimizing the amount or portion of these foods.
If you are still not sure of what to eat to achieve and maintain a healthy and normal cholesterol level, you can consult your doctor or a dietician to help you make a diet plan. They can help you make a diet plan which consists of foods that have just the right amount of cholesterol for you.