Cholesterol and triglycerides: the 8 essential foods

From chocolate to red wine to legumes, foods and beverages can help you lower cholesterol.

Photo by Farhad Ibrahimzade on

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol that can cause plaque to form in the walls of coronary arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Each person’s ideal LDL levels vary, and it can be due to bad genes, obesity, and a lack of exercise.

Cholesterol is essential for health, but if levels get too high, LDL can build up in arteries and form plaques, leading to cardiovascular diseases such as chest pain, heart attack, and stroke.

A blood clot can form in an artery and block blood flow, leading to heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease (PAD). People with high LDL levels are at risk of developing PAD, which forms inside the walls of the arteries that carry blood to the head, stomach, arms, and legs.

Excess LDL is caused by a diet high in saturated fats and trans fats, so eliminating these foods is a good first step. Add some or all of the following LDL-lowering foods daily to improve LDL levels.

Foods that improve your cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Beans and legumes

Beans and other legumes are great sources of soluble fiber, which binds to cholesterol-filled bile salts in the small intestine and helps get rid of them with waste. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in June 2007 found that eating half a cup of cooked beans every day can lower both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by a lot.

Apples: High in Fiber and Beneficial Antioxidants

Eating an apple a day (or better, two) can slow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol due to the antioxidant polyphenols found in the skin. Antioxidants are important because when LDL cholesterol reacts with free radicals and oxidizes, it makes inflammation and plaque buildup in the arteries more likely.

Nuts and seeds: Full of protein and good fats

Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are great sources of protein, heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They help lower LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol without affecting levels of good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. They are, however, high in calories and should be limited to half a cup per day.

Oats and oat bran: A little every day

Beta-glucan is a water-soluble fiber found in oats and oat bran. It lowers both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. A meta-analysis found that at least 3 grams (g) of fiber a day is enough to lower LDL cholesterol.

Green tea: Antioxidants help lower LDL cholesterol.

Green tea, which is particularly rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant, has been found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) in 17 trials reviewed in the International Journal of Food Science Nutrition. Unlike other teas, green tea leaves are steamed to prevent EGCG from oxidizing. Drinking a few cups of green tea a day should help and keep you from consuming too much caffeine.

Red grapefruit: Up to 20% difference

Eating just one red grapefruit a day for a month may help lower LDL cholesterol levels by 20%. This cardioprotective effect is likely due to compounds called liminoids and lycopene present in the pulp, as well as pectin, a soluble fiber. But grapefruit may also make certain heart medications work better, so you should talk to your doctor before eating it.

Red Wine or Grape: Resveratrol Toast

Resveratrol is a chemical that comes from plants and can be found in red grapes. It may help lower LDL cholesterol and protect against coronary heart disease. Drinking red wine with a meal can help prevent the constriction of blood vessels that can lead to atherosclerosis and heart attack. Resveratrol is found in red, black, and purple grapes, as well as blueberries, cranberries. If you drink alcohol, limit your red wine intake to one or two 5 oz glasses a day.

Plant Phytosterols and Stanols: Watch Your Portions

Chocolate contains plant sterols and stanols, which can reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 14 mg/dl, according to an analysis of 20 trials published in Atherosclerosis in May 2016. Phytosterols block cholesterol absorption in the small intestine, which helps reduce LDL.


Overuse of cholesterol-lowering medications can cause bone damage.

A new study shows that high doses of the drug statins, which lowers cholesterol, can hurt bone health.

A new study reveals that high doses of the cholesterol-lowering drug statins can negatively impact bone health. A 2019 study of Austrians raised concerns about statins and osteoporosis, which is a disease of the bones. This led researchers in Vienna to look into how statins affect the structure of bones.

In a study on mice, researchers from the Medical University of Vienna and the Complexity Science Hub looked at how high doses of statins affect bone density.

. In a recent study, data from a 2019 survey of almost 8 million people were used. Researchers looked at 71 mice in the lab, 39 of which were male and 32 of which were female. They did this to see if there was a direct link between statins and osteoporosis. Scientists gave mice a high-fat diet for a few weeks so that their cholesterol levels would go up. Later, the researchers split these mice into two groups: the control group and the test group.

The researchers used micro-CT to measure the bone density of the mice after administering high doses of statins to the test group rats for about five and a half months. The researchers looked at the structure of the bones’ cortices and trabeculae.

The micro-CT scan results confirmed the researchers’ suspicions that high doses of statins could affect bones. According to scan analysis, bone density was reduced by 42 percent in male mice and 32 percent in female mice.

High cholesterol levels affect the legs

Because they so seldom result in symptoms, high cholesterol levels are frequently referred to as the “silent killer.” The hardening of the arteries in the arms and legs due to cholesterol buildup might result in extremely hazardous symptoms.

Peripheral artery disease is the term used to describe this arterial stiffening (PAD)

Painful spasms in the muscles of the hip, thigh, or calf are the initial sign of PAD, according to the Cardiovascular Labs of America (CLA). Even simple movements like walking or climbing stairs might result in excruciating spasms.

According to CLA’s Dr. Sanjay Wagle, our bodies are extremely intelligent. We should consider our leg problems. You should see a doctor if your legs hurt while you walk but go away when you’re resting.

They claimed that it is dangerous if your leg muscles stiffen and do not improve.

Monitoring cholesterol levels and other heart disease symptoms is the primary method of preventing peripheral artery disease.

How does caffeine in coffee lower cholesterol?

Caffeine reduces the production of LDL cholesterol by affecting two proteins. Photo: File Many benefits of coffee have been reported and more are emerging. Now experts have discovered the scientific reason for the unhealthy caffeine in coffee and other beverages, which lowers LDL cholesterol. Scientists at McMaster University say that excessive consumption of caffeine reduces the amount […]

How does caffeine in coffee lower cholesterol?

What functions Cholesterol performs and reference values?

Our eating and sports habits influence our psychophysical well-being. To get a general idea of ​​the state of health it is useful to undergo a blood test regularly. This allows you to monitor the levels of different substances such as cholesterol and sugars. The Discovery of cholesterol in our blood test scare us. In reality, its presence is completely physiological and […]

What functions Cholesterol performs and reference values?

World Lipid Day: High #cholesterol in Pakistan has become epidemic, experts say

World Lipid Day: High #cholesterol in Pakistan has become epidemic, experts say

#health #HDL #ldl

Cholesterol: what it is, what functions it performs and reference values

Our eating and sports habits influence our psychophysical well-being. To get a general idea of ​​the state of health it is useful to undergo a blood test regularly. This allows you to monitor the levels of different substances such as cholesterol and sugars.

The Discovery of cholesterol in our blood test scare us. In reality, its presence is completely physiological and indispensable, as long as its levels in the blood are normal. In fact, it can represent a serious health risk when levels are higher than expected as this condition (hypercholesterolemia) can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease.

However, the presence of high cholesterol produces no symptoms, so it can quietly rise and put us in danger without our knowledge. To keep the levels under control, it is necessary to take a blood sample.

What is that Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is fat present in the blood. It is very important for our body, in particular for the correct fluidity of cell membranes and for the formation of sex hormones. It is largely produced by the body (80%) and a small part is introduced into our body with the diet (20%).

Cholesterol is transported in molecular structures which are called lipoproteins. Among the main lipoproteins are:

  • those with low density or LDL, also known as “bad” cholesterol , which transport excess cholesterol in circulation from the liver to the arteries, releasing it as a deposit in the vessels, resulting in the formation of atherosclerotic plaque, which hinders the flow of blood from the blood vessels ;
  • the high-density lipoproteins or HDL, on the other hand, known as “good” cholesterol, remove cholesterol from the tissues, and therefore also from the arteries, and return it to the liver, which eliminates it through the bile salts (bile).

So the former distribute cholesterol to the cells for use, the latter remove excess cholesterol returning it to the liver to be eliminated. The danger is highlighted when we have high LDL cholesterol . Having high HDL allows you to reduce the amount of excess cholesterol and, therefore, is not dangerous at all, “explains the doctor.

What functions does it perform?

Cholesterol performs various functions within our organism: it participates in the production of vitamin D (a fat-soluble protein essential for the health of bones, teeth and the immune system). It is also a fundamental component of cell membranes. Furthermore, it is part of the composition of bile salts and the myelin sheath, which is important for nerve transmission, and contributes to the formation of sex and adrenal hormones “, continues the expert.

What are the reference values?

A simple blood test performed in the morning on an empty stomach is the most effective way to check your cholesterol level and find out if you have hypercholesterolemia. The optimal values ​​are:

  • Total cholesterol (roughly the sum of LDL and HDL cholesterol values): less than 200 mg / dL (milligrams per deciliter of blood). “High cholesterol” or “hypercholesterolemia” is defined as a total cholesterol value in the blood above 240 mg / dL.
  • “Bad” cholesterol LDL ( Low Density Lipoprotein ): ideal level below 115 mg / dl; normal level below 130 mg / dL “Good” HDL ( High Density Lipoprotein ) cholesterol: the higher the levels, the better. In general, for women they should not be lower than 50 mg / dL, and for men not lower than 45 mg / dL “.

    Your total cholesterol score is calculated using the equation: HDL level + LDL level + 20% of your triglyceride level.

What are the causes of high cholesterol?

High cholesterol can be caused by several conditions including:

  • genetic predisposition (hereditary or familial hypercholesterolemia);
  • overweight/obesity;
  • incorrect nutrition;
  • smoke;
  • poor physical activity;
  • presence of some metabolic diseases, such as diabetes 

These are factors that, in addition to causing high cholesterol levels, affect the general health of the body.

How to prevent high cholesterol at the table

« Paying attention to the foods to be brought to the table is the first step to take to prevent high cholesterol. Here’s what to do:

  • reduce total fatty acids, especially saturated fats (present in foods of animal origin such as milk and cheeses, lard, butter, pork, beef, cured meats) and hydrogenated fats (margarines and products containing them, to be preferred instead is the extra virgin olive oil );
  • encourage the consumption of foods rich in omega-3 (fatty acids that promote the lowering of “bad” cholesterol) such as blue fish, dried fruit, oil seeds, etc …
  • reduce the consumption of carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (refined cereals, simple sugars, such as sweets, candies, pastries, etc.), to be replaced instead with whole carbohydrates;
  • increase the consumption of foods rich in fiber : vegetables, legumes and fruit;
  • prefer light cooking methods such as steam, griddle, oven;
  • reduce alcohol consumption;
  • drink a lot of water”.

The Mediterranean diet today represents a complete and varied diet that allows you to consume all the foods available, preferring those in season. The foresight to pay attention to the quantity of the portions that must satisfy personal energy needs is always valid.

Risks of High Cholesterol

When it is present in physiological quantities, cholesterol is important since it is involved in several fundamental processes for the functioning of the organism. Otherwise, its presence in excessive quantities constitutes ONE of the risk factors (not the only, nor the worst) for cardiovascular diseases such as ischemia and heart attack.

For an estimate of cardiovascular risk, the guidelines tell us not to look only at the total cholesterol value. Instead, it is more appropriate to consider the relationship between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. This value should never exceed 5 in men and 4.5 in women “.

In general, therefore, cholesterol is a fatty substance with important functions in the body, but in the case of high levels can represent a health risk. Maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle and associating a regular check of its presence in the blood is the most effective way to prevent hypercholesterolemia.

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