Fact # 1: There are 2 types of Cholesterol: one is good for your health and the other can be harmful.
Fact # 2: Cholesterol cannot be dissolved in the blood and must be carried by lipoproteins.
It is the different types of lipoprotein carriers that actually define whether a cholesterol is healthy or damaging.
Two types of lipoprotein are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Cholesterols carried by LDL’s, or LDL cholesterols, are damaging because they contribute to plaque buildup and clogged arteries which lead to serious cardiovascular problems.
HDL-carried cholesterols, on the other hand, are actually healthy for the body. They remove bad cholesterol from artery walls and proactively travel along the bloodstream to help flush them out into the liver and out of the body. Thus having a high level of HDL cholesterol is a shield against heart disease.
Make heart-healthy food choices with only good cholesterol
Heart-damaging LDL cholesterols are found in animal-based foods (dairy, egg, meat, lean protein) in the form of saturated fat. They can also be found in trans fats in commercially prepared products containing partially hydrogenated oils or shortening. Interestingly enough, plant-based saturated fats such as those found in coconut oil or red palm oil are healthy and can even boost up good cholesterol levels.
You can protect your heart by making heart-healthy food choices.
Tips for better cholesterol:
- Replace dairy milk with nut milk
- Try tofu and beans instead of meat
- Choose raw, unprocessed snacks
- Consume superfoods known to decrease bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol:
- Avocados: The monounsaturated fat in avocados help increase good and decrease bad cholesterol.
- Blueberries: They contain an antioxidant called pterostilbene which lowers bad cholesterol.
- Oat bran: Daily consumption of oat bran can increase good cholesterol by more than 11%
- Almond: Almond skins help prevent bad cholesterols from causing damage
The key to maintaining a well-balanced cholesterol level is to increase consumption of wholesome snacks and foods with healthy plant-based fats, and to avoid heavily processed foods and those containing animal-based fats. But don’t worry, with so many delicious, wholesome cholesterol-friendly options available, you won’t have to give up taste for a healthy heart.