If you were like me few years back, “cholesterol” was a word that brought chills down the spine. Yes, I hated cholesterol, I heard so much negative information about it that I wanted to keep it away from me at all costs.
Just about 10 years ago when I start turned 40’s, I went for a blood test. My family doctor introduced the buzz about good and bad cholesterol, and the negative effect that bad cholesterol can have on heart health. With some high cholesterol foods now being considered good while others are bad, trying to determine which high cholesterol foods are actually beneficial for my heart’s health can be confusing!
Therefore, I decided to do a little research about”cholesterol”. It was not difficult to find information. I just googled “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol”…….wow, tons of information just appeared. It took me a bit of time to read through and digested the information so that it became useful to me. I just would like to share this with you, hopefully it is not too technical to understand. I can assure you it is not rocket science, all of us can understand and benefit from it.
Scientifically, let’s look at the difference in how your body processes good cholesterol versus bad cholesterol:
- Good cholesterol or HDL. This type of cholesterol does a sort of “recycling” process on excess cholesterol overall, taking the excess back to the liver for excretion. It can help to remove cholesterol attached to the arteries.
- Bad cholesterol or LDL. Your body deposits this type of cholesterol on the artery walls. Such deposits narrow the passages and eventually block the flow of blood to the vital organs of the body, including the heart. Foods containing saturated and trans fats are typically high in LDL.
Absolute figures of HDL and LDL do not mean a lot, although reducing LDL is always a good option. It is the ratio of HDL to LDL that matters more. To remain healthy, you are required to have a high HDL to LDL ratio. Most people are afraid of fat. However, avoiding all fats is not a smart and viable solution. Study shows that fat supplies about 25% of our daily calories. The smart thing to do is to ensure you take in only a small proportion of saturated fats, so that the HDL to LDL ratio becomes relatively high.
Knowing the good and bad cholesterol is one thing, to know what food to take and what to avoid is another.
What foods to avoid?
What type of foods contains saturated fat and therefore we should run away from it? Generally you should avoid fried food, fast food and junk food which contain very high saturated fat. It’s also important to take note of the ingredients on a given product before you consume it. If it contains hydrogenated vegetable oil, it means you are consuming trans fats. Trans fat is the worse culprit in creating bad cholesterol, it does not only increase your LDL level, it also decrease your HDL, thereby reducing your HDL to LDL ratio dramatically.
Where to Find Good Cholesterol
Now that you know the difference between good and bad cholesterol, it’s time to take a look at which foods contain good cholesterol so you can consume more of those and avoid the ones that don’t.
There are mainly two components of good cholesterol, knowing what they are will help us identify those foods high in these components.
- Monounsaturated fats or MUFAs. These fats form the main component of good cholesterol and are found mostly in fruit, nuts, and wheat products.
- Polyunsaturated fats or PUFAs. These fats are also significantly present in good cholesterol foods and are typically found in corn products, sunflower products, and fish oils. Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to increasing your HDL to LDL ratio.
- Avocado. Avocado used to get a bad rap about being too rich in cholesterol. However, that was before people knew that it’s actually a great source of HDL cholesterol that effectively combats bad cholesterol.
- Olive oil. Olive oil and oil from peanuts and canola also have great levels of heart healthy cholesterol. You can get wonderful results when you use them for cooking.
- Almonds. While other nuts also have some traces of good cholesterol, almonds perhaps have the most. Replacing unhealthy snacks, like chips, with a handful of unsalted, raw almonds can make a difference in your heart health.
- Shrimp. This is another food item that gets a bad rap, and although it has some amount of LDL, it has enough HDL to combat its negative effects due to the naturally occurring fish oils. Salmon and tuna are also great sea-dwelling sources of HDL.
- Eggs. Not only do eggs possess good cholesterol, but they also possess tons of other nutritious properties. This is definitely one of those foods to keep a stock of at home.
What Else Can Healthy High Cholesterol Foods Do For The Body?
Other benefits in the food items listed previously:
- Maintain peak mental performance
- Increase your energy level and stamina
Don’t go and grab all the food items above and eat in large quantity for a prolonged period. The wisdom of moderation is needed when we want to build a healthy and vibrant life. These foods contain high level of HLD or good cholesterol, and you are encouraged to take them regularly in moderated amount.
Other Ways of increasing your good cholesterol:
Besides food, the following two ways are suggested to increase your levels of “good” cholesterol.
- Quit smoking – The chemicals taken in by your body when you smoke are known to lower HDL levels. Quit smoking makes HDL to increase by 10 percent.
- Lose weight – Medical research shows some evidence that by every 6 pounds of weight you lose, your HDL level go up by 1 mg/dl.
Remember, we are here to protect your heart from being exposed to heart diseases. Bad cholesterol creates negative effect on our heart. Knowing the facts about HDL and LDL, you are able to enjoy high cholesterol food now – just to make sure that they contain the right type of cholesterol (HDL).