Your body requires cholesterol for various purposes. Cholesterol plays a crucial role in the formation of cell membranes. It is also necessary for the formation of some hormones. Your body obtains cholesterol from fat (lipids) that you ingest. Being a soft and waxy substance cholesterol is does not dissolve in the blood and can therefore be transported to and from cells through the bloodstream easily. The special carriers (lipoproteins) that facilitate the transportation of fat in the bloodstream are low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
Of the two carriers, the LDL carrier plays a major role in the blood. High levels of LDL leads to a build up of cholesterol in walls of arteries that serve the heart and brain. Such a build up leads to formation of plaques on the walls, which make it difficult for blood to flow through freely. This eventually leads to a medical condition known as arteriosclerosis, which can cause heart attack in case a clot forms near a plaque and blocks blood flow. A high level of LDL is what is referred to as bad cholesterol. On the other hand, the HDL transports only about a quarter of cholesterol in the bloodstream and therefore does not present any danger.
Ideally, your LDL levels should not exceed 160 mg/dL. Readings beyond this level puts you at great risk of developing heart disease. Although various medications are available that you can use to lower your LDL readings, an appropriate diet has been established to be more beneficial. You can easily formulate a diet to lower cholesterol and greatly cut down on chances of developing heart disease. In formulating such a diet, you need to do away with high-fat foods and instead opt for low-fat foods. Vegetables have been noted to be very effective in lowering bad cholesterol. Below are some of the foods you need to incorporate in your diet for the purpose of lowering the same.
- High fiber foods – High fiber foods contain soluble fiber, which have the effect of reducing absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream in addition to cutting down on LDL levels. High fiber foods with soluble fiber include Oatmeal, Oat bran and varied fruits.
- Fish – Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that reduce LDL levels. Although most fish contain these essential oils, such fish as Mackerel, Lake trout, Halibut, Salmon, Sardines and Herring have been noted to contain large amounts of the same.
- Nuts – Nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachio and almonds are very rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids which do not only reduce LDL levels but also keep blood vessels healthy. You only need to eat a reasonable amount of nuts because they are high on calories, which can encourage weight gain.
- Olive oil – Replacing your regular cooking fat with Olive oil is very healthy. Olive oil contains powerful antioxidants that act against bad cholesterol, leaving good cholesterol (HDL) intact. Virgin Olive oil that is less processed is very beneficial because the same contains high levels of antioxidants.
Formulating a diet to lower cholesterol should not be costly. The above mentioned foods are not just readily available but are also affordable. It may be time that you take the necessary measure to minimize chances of developing heart disease.