Plaque buildup in the arteries can put you at serious risk for stroke and heart attack. Plaque can rupture, causing a heart attack, or it can get large enough to block blood flow.
It isn’t possible to get rid of plaque in the arteries, but doctors can shrink it, according to Harvard Health. Doctors try to remedy the problem by finding small, soft plaques, removing the cholesterol from inside and allowing them to shrivel, thereby reducing the blockage and danger of rupture.
This can be accomplished with drugs called statins, but statins come with side effects that make some patients wary. Statins can cause muscle pain, fuzzy thinking, digestive issues and, in some cases, even liver damage. For this reason, dietary changes are a prudent first option for reducing cholesterol, shrinking arterial plaque and helping to protect the heart from damage. Here are some foods to include in your diet.
Cholesterol: a lipid essential to the body
Cholesterol is a lipid found in the body in the liver, brain, and spinal cord. Cholesterol is made by the body at nearly 70%, the rest is brought by the diet. It is found in many foods of animal origin. While a normal cholesterol level is vital for the body, it is often wrongly demonized. Cholesterol makes it possible, among other things, to synthesize certain hormones as well as vitamin D. It is also a constituent of cell membranes.
Characteristics of cholesterol:
-Different HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) from LDL (bad cholesterol)
-In excess cholesterol can become dangerous for cardiovascular health
-It is found in animal products
-Constitutes cell membranes
-Participates in the production of bile salts and the synthesis of hormones and vitamin D
Why eat foods that are good cholesterol
Benefits and roles of cholesterol
LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) can be distinguished in blood tests. These two types of cholesterol are commonly and respectively named
“bad” or “good” cholesterol. In fact, the terms HDL and LDL correspond to carriers of cholesterol in the blood. HDL is a “scavenger” that reduces cholesterol from the arteries to the liver, while LDL transports cholesterol from the liver to the tissues. It favors its deposit in the arteries. Thus, the increase in HDL at the expense of LDL will be encouraged to make the HDL-LDL ratio more favorable to cardiovascular health.
Roles of cholesterol in the body:
Constituting cell membranes
Cholesterol is one of the elements that constitute the cell membrane, the cells, therefore, owe its permeability.
Production of bile salts
To promote good digestion, cholesterol will participate in the formation of bile salts that are essential for breaking down food and assimilating nutrients.
Synthesis of vitamin D
In the body, cholesterol will help in the production of vitamin D, which is essential to properly fix calcium on bones.
Cholesterol also has an important hormonal role since it constitutes certain sex hormones such as testosterone and adrenal hormones such as cortisone.
List of cholesterol foods
Olive oil and cholesterol
Olive oil contains a good proportion of monounsaturated fats, just like avocado. Monounsaturated fats reduce total cholesterol and LDL while maintaining a healthy HDL level.
Exactly like monounsaturated fats, Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats stabilize the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. Most Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), in nuts, seeds, and linseed oil, in hemp or chia seeds. Canola oil also contains good proportions.
Peanut and cholesterol
Peanut like the majority of oilseeds contains a majority of unsaturated fats. For this reason, peanut, peanut butter or peanut oil are rather beneficial for cardiovascular health.
fruits and vegetables, fiber and cereals
Fruits and vegetables and cereals contain a good proportion of dietary fiber. Diagrammatically, dietary fiber traps the bad cholesterol during digestion and participates in its evacuation through the stool. A diet high in fiber has been shown to prevent cardiovascular disease and reduce bad cholesterol levels.
Eggs and cholesterol
Do eggs give cholesterol? Should we limit them in prevention? In fact, it is not so. Eggs are part of foods that contain cholesterol. They are therefore to be limited if, and only if, the cholesterol level exceeds normal values. In this case, it is recommended not to consume more than 4 to 6 eggs per week. On the other hand, if the cholesterol level is in the standards no restriction is to be expected. A varied and balanced diet is the only effective prevention factor.
How to reduce cholesterol?
To reduce cholesterol levels too high, it is necessary for the first intention to make food measures. Even if the diet only affects cholesterolemia at 30%, it may be enough to regulate it. Thus, care must be taken to limit the cholesterol-rich foods mentioned above and to include more foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, Omega-3, fiber, and micro-nutrients.
Side effects of bad cholesterol
Since cholesterol is mainly synthesized by the body, there are no recommendations regarding its dietary intake in the absence of pathologies. However, it is recommended to have an HDL level higher than 0.45g / L for a man and 0.55g / L for a premenopausal woman.
Hazardous cholesterol levels
If LDL and total cholesterol levels exceed the reference values, this can be a risk to cardiovascular health. Indeed, excess cholesterol promotes congestion of the arteries and small vessels and exposes to a higher risk of cardiovascular events. In this case, it will be necessary to consider revising dietary habits to achieve restore cholesterolemia naturally via food.
A consequence of a cholesterol deficiency
Food supplying only one-third of cholesterol, it is not possible to be deficient in cholesterol. However, if HDL cholesterol is too low, it means that LDL is too high and it is a cardiovascular risk factor.