Healthy cholesterol is the key to a long and healthy life. Cholesterol-lowering products can play a crucial role in maintaining your cardiovascular health.
In this article, you will discover how easy it is to incorporate these products into your daily diet. You will also learn about specific examples and find out why they are so important.
What is good and bad cholesterol?
Distinguishing between good and bad cholesterol is crucial for the health of our heart. Although we often hear negative views about cholesterol, it’s worth remembering that it is essential for our body. It acts like a building block for cells and participates in the production of certain hormones and vitamin D3.
Bad cholesterol, known as LDL, transports cholesterol from the liver to various parts of the body. Under normal conditions, this is a natural and necessary process. The problem arises when its level is too high. Then LDL begins to deposit on the walls of the arteries. Leading to their narrowing and increasing the risk of heart diseases, such as heart attack or stroke.
On the other hand, we have good cholesterol, namely HDL. Its role is a true rescue mission for our arteries. HDL takes unnecessary cholesterol from tissues and blood vessels and transports it back to the liver, where it is processed. Thanks to this process, HDL reduces the risk of dangerous deposits forming in the vessels.
The key to good health is thus maintaining a low level of bad LDL cholesterol and a high level of good HDL cholesterol. How can this be achieved? Primarily through a healthy diet – rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and healthy fats such as olive oil. Regular physical activity is also important, which helps to keep cholesterol at the right level. We must not forget about regularly monitoring cholesterol levels. Especially if we are dealing with risk factors such as overweight or smoking.
Good and bad cholesterol levels
Understanding cholesterol norms is crucial for maintaining cardiovascular health. A test called a lipid profile allows for precise measurement of levels of various types of cholesterol and triglycerides. These latter, although essential for the body, can lead to health problems when in excess.
The recommended cholesterol levels are as follows:
- Total cholesterol: below 190 mg/dl,
- LDL (bad cholesterol): below 115 mg/dl,
- HDL (good cholesterol) for men: above 40 mg/dl, and for women: above 45 mg/dl,
- Triglycerides: below 150 mg/dl.
It’s worth noting that LDL norms may be lower for individuals with heart disease, kidney disease, or diabetes. Exceeding these values indicates hypercholesterolemia, which is not a disease, but a condition that increases the risk of cardiovascular complications.
A proper diet and physical activity are key to controlling cholesterol levels. Regular exercises, such as running, cycling or nordic walking, are recommended by specialists. It is also important to avoid smoking.
From a nutritional perspective, it’s key to limit saturated and trans fats, often found in processed foods. Their contribution to the diet should not exceed 5-6% of the daily calorie requirement. Instead, it’s worth focusing on healthy fats, such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and sea fish, rich in unsaturated fatty acids. A cholesterol-lowering diet should be based on vegetables, fruits, and fibre-rich products, such as whole grain bread, groats and bran.
Maintaining a healthy cholesterol level requires conscious dietary choices and an active lifestyle, which contributes to overall good health.
Cholesterol-lowering products – TOP 10
Zachowanie zdrowego poziomu cholesterolu jest kluczowe dla naszego zdrowia sercowo-naczyniowego. Istnieją konkretne produkty, które mogą nam w tym pomóc:
- Fruits and vegetables, such as grapes, berries, apples, and strawberries, are rich in antioxidants and pectin, which lower cholesterol. Don’t forget about carrots, potatoes, and eggplants.
- Whole grain bread, particularly those containing oats and barley, is not only healthy but also reduces stroke risk by 20%.
- Fatty sea fish, including mackerel, sardines, herring, eels, and salmon, are sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which balance good and bad cholesterol levels.
- Fiber found in oat and barley flakes, pears, apples, carrots, dried plums, and legumes helps lower high cholesterol.
- Nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols, and fiber, which lower bad LDL cholesterol. They also contain magnesium and potassium, beneficial for blood pressure.
- Olive oil and canola oil contain monounsaturated fatty acids, effective in lowering bad cholesterol levels.
- Free-range eggs, when prepared soft-boiled, can help reduce bad LDL cholesterol.
- Garlic, thanks to its allicin content, positively affects blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Green, black, and white tea contain quercetin and catechins, which support vascular health and lower blood pressure.
- Avocado, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, also aids in lowering high cholesterol.
A balanced diet rich in these products can help maintain a healthy cholesterol level and support overall cardiovascular health. Regularly incorporating these ingredients into your daily menu is a simple and tasty path to better health.
Cholesterol-lowering products – further advice
Lowering cholesterol levels is an important step towards a healthier lifestyle. Many people can reduce their cholesterol level by as much as 20-30% through diet and exercise alone. Cholesterol reduction helps to decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome.
If it’s not possible to lower the level of cholesterol, the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, called statins, can be considered. They can reduce cholesterol levels by up to 50%. This is particularly important for individuals with a higher risk of heart disease, a family history of heart disease, or metabolic syndrome.
It’s worth remembering that cholesterol levels alone do not predict the risk of heart disease. It’s necessary to consider other risk factors such as age, smoking, diabetes, blood pressure, diet, exercise, and metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a condition in which a person has at least three of the following conditions: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, raised triglycerides, or low levels of good HDL cholesterol.
How to lower cholesterol levels?
Increase fibre intake, which means incorporating more whole grains into your diet, such as barley, bran, whole wheat, and flaxseeds, as well as nuts like almonds, pecans, pistachios and sunflower seeds. Additionally, it’s worth consuming more soluble fibre, for example, beans, Brussels sprouts, oatmeal, apples and pears, which help reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the blood.
Replace unhealthy fats with healthy ones, that is, limit the consumption of saturated fats, which are mainly found in red meat, full-fat dairy products, butter, coconut oil, and in processed biscuits and crackers containing trans fats or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Replace them with oils such as canola, corn, sunflower, or olive oil.
Choose lean proteins and products rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Opt for lean proteins, such as chicken and turkey, as well as fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, for example salmon, mackerel, herring, and nuts, including walnuts, almonds, pecans and macadamia nuts.
Exercise regularly. Strive to exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. Exercise helps to increase the level of good HDL cholesterol.
Quit smoking. Quitting smoking improves the level of good HDL cholesterol.
Lose weight. Being overweight can increase cholesterol levels. Extra kilos also raise the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Drink alcohol in moderation. Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke.
Understanding the risk of heart disease is the first step in its prevention. It is important to know your family history, regularly check your cholesterol levels, even if there is no family history of risk, and repeat the test every five years.
FAQ – Frequently asked questions about cholesterol-lowering products
Yes, berry fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries or blueberries, contain antioxidants and are rich in fibre, which helps lower cholesterol levels. Add a picture.
Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, contain healthy fats and fibre, which contribute to lowering cholesterol.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which help lower the level of bad LDL cholesterol, while raising good HDL cholesterol.
Fish, especially fatty ones like salmon or mackerel, contain omega-3 acids, which lower the level of triglycerides and support heart health.
Avocado is rich in healthy fats and fibre, which contribute to lowering bad cholesterol levels and improving the overall lipid profile.