Over the past few months, we have received many questions regarding cholesterol. Most people assume that cholesterol is bad for you. Cholesterol is a type of fat found in the blood. It is a waxy, fat-like substance produced by the liver and is also found in certain foods, such as eggs, meat, and dairy products.
Cholesterol is an essential substance that is needed for the body to function properly. It is used to produce hormones, build cell walls, and produce bile acids, which help the body digest fat. However, having too much cholesterol in the blood can increase the risk of heart disease.
Types of Cholesterol:
There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, often referred to as “good” cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol can build up in the walls leading to the heart (arteries), forming dust (plaques) that can narrow or block those walls. As a result, you may be more likely to experience heart attacks and strokes.
On the other hand, HDL Cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from the walls and carries it back to the liver, where it is broken down and removed from the body. Having high levels of HDL cholesterol can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. We often have people assume that they need to remove all cholesterol from their diet which is not beneficial as we need HDL cholesterol to assist with our body functions.
Dietary Recommendations for Keeping Your Cholesterol in Check:
There are certain dietary changes that may help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Here are some recommendations:
- Choose foods that are high in fiber, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Soluble fiber, which is found in oats, beans, and apples, has been shown to be particularly effective at lowering cholesterol levels.
- Choose lean protein sources, such as chicken, fish, and beans, instead of higher-fat meats.
- Use healthier fats, such as olive oil and canola oil, instead of saturated and trans fats.
- Eat foods that are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as nuts, avocados, and fatty fish, as these can help raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
- Consider adding plant sterols and stanols to your diet. These substances which are found in small amounts in certain vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains, can block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. They are also found in foods with extra nutrients added, such as margarine and orange juice.
It is important to note that making dietary changes alone may not be enough to lower cholesterol levels if they are very high. Regular exercise is also an important component. In some cases, medication may also be necessary. It is always a good idea to discuss your cholesterol levels and treatment options with a healthcare provider.
It’s true that not all cholesterol is bad for you. In fact, cholesterol is vital for the body to function properly. It is crucial to maintain a healthy balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol to reduce the risk of heart disease. This can be achieved through a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and, in some cases, medication. Of course, we also recommend chiropractic care so we can help keep you active!
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