Eating is one of the most important parts of life. Consuming a balanced and varied diet allows our body to get the right amount of nutrients to keep us healthy, fight sickness, keep energy levels up, and many essential body processes.
However, you are what you eat. Whatever you’re consuming directly affects your body, and one of them is cholesterol. What is the correlation between high cholesterol and an increased risk of heart diseases?
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol, a fat-like substance, travels through the bloodstream as high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is better known as good cholesterol, as it takes bad cholesterol out of the body through the liver for disposal.
While low levels of LDL are normal and essential in the body, it can also be "bad cholesterol," as too much can cling and clog the arteries. Narrowed or blocked arteries prevent blood from reaching the heart, brain, and other organs. The issue can lead to stroke, heart attack, or heart failure.
Although the liver produces our required cholesterol levels already, the food we eat also contributes to the cholesterol in our body. However, it is not all bad when there is an increase in cholesterol levels. Our body needs a high HDL level and low LDL level to reduce the risk of heart diseases.
In a study published in 2016, researchers looked at the possibility of exchanging commercial products high in cholesterol for food items with improved total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and inflammatory markers in a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial. For a total of eight weeks, the study showed that exchanging a few commercially available food items was easy and led to a clinically significant cholesterol reduction, reducing CVD risk.
Sources of Cholesterol
Diet plays an essential role in heart health and overall health. It is worth noting that trans fat and saturated fats raise LDL and lower HDL. Both of these changes contribute highly to an increased risk of heart diseases. Added to that, trans fats also bring no nutritional value.
Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) carry the most trans fat in our diet, primarily found in many types of processed foods. PHOs are not safe for human consumption. While they are being phased out of our food supply, try to avoid the foods with PHO.
Saturated fats are another source of LDL and should be avoided as much as possible. They are commonly found in sweet treats, red meat, fatty meat, processed meat, shortening, lard, tallow, fried foods, and whole-fat dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese, and cream. Both trans fat and saturated fat contribute to weight gain and obesity. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of heart diseases and other health conditions.
It concerns to know that most of the food we eat contains high cholesterol levels, which put us at risk for heart diseases. However, healthier options help lower down LDL, raise HDL, and manage your weight, such as oats, beans, nuts, fruits, soybeans, fatty fish, and olive oil. But of course, eating moderately is still the best solution to control and manage our cholesterol intake to lower the risk of acquiring heart disease.
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