Cholesterol is a type of fat generated and processed naturally in the liver, which circulates in the blood together with other proteins and which intervenes in several vital processes of the organism.
When there is an excess of blood cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), the fat can accumulate in the walls of the arteries forming an atheromatous plaque, which if it breaks or blocks the blood flow, can prevent oxygen from reaching the heart and causing a heart attack. .
Currently, 20% of the adult population in Spain has high levels of cholesterol in the blood. The adoption of healthy habits, especially controlling food, can help maintain optimal levels. We give you 5 tips to reduce cholesterol:
1. Take care of food
The pace of life today often means that we do not pay enough attention to our diet and, for convenience, we feed ourselves with excess cholesterol-rich foods. When we provide more of this lipoprotein than is necessary, the liver can not process it correctly. If we want to adopt a healthy diet that takes care of our cholesterol levels, we should try to:
- Reduce the consumption of refined carbohydrates : they are also called “simple carbohydrates” and are considered “empty calories”. They provide a high glycemic index, very harmful for diabetics, lowering the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and increasing those of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. These carbohydrates are found in processed sugars and refined grains (those that have had their germ and bran removed, which includes fiber and nutrients). We must try to reduce the consumption of these sugars and replace refined cereals with whole grains.
- Minimize the intake of animal fats : we should try to avoid processed meats such as fatty sausages, red meat from the fatiest areas or eliminate the skin of chicken and turkey. Also fatty milk products, such as butter, some cheeses and cream. A good option may be to replace whole milk with skim milk.
- Avoid foods with saturated fats and trans fats , harmful to cholesterol, and add more unsaturated fats to our diet . Trans fats or hydrogenated are those that are formed by introducing hydrogen molecules in vegetable oils. We find them especially in industrial bakery, snacks, prepared food, ice cream, sweets … The recommended is a diet rich in unsaturated fats, such as blue fish , which helps lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and prevent cardiovascular disease.
- A diet rich in soluble fibers . Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oats or legumes can increase the body’s ability to eliminate cholesterol. Being soluble can bind to bile, which acts during the digestive process in the dissolution of fats so they can be absorbed.
- Consume more vegetable protein . Substituting foods with animal protein such as meat, eggs or dairy, for others with vegetable protein such as lentils, quinoa, beans or tofu, are healthier for cholesterol levels. In addition to reducing saturated fats we will increase fiber consumption. Try to integrate these foods into your diet in salads, soups or scrambled.