What is Cholesterol and how does it affect our health?
Cholesterol is a common steroid essential for functioning of cell membranes. It facilitates formation of essential Vitamins, Acids and Hormones. It is required for formation of Vitamin D, Bile acids, Progesterone, Estrogen, Androgens and other hormones. Cholesterol flows in bloodstream in the form of Lipoproteins. Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)is the dangerous kind of Lipoprotein that gets the arteries clogged. Free-radicals also present in the bloodstream oxidize LDL present in the bloodstream to form rancid. This oxidized form of LDL clogs the arteries. In fact, LDL present in bloodstream is not considered dangerous to the arteries unless it becomes toxic by reacting with the free-radicals. Here cholesterol lowering foods play an important role to prevent the oxidation. A diet rich in anti-oxidants can prevent clogging of arteries, thereby preventing heart attacks and strokes. High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)is a good form of cholesterol which is associated with fewer arterial diseases.
- Garlic: Cooked and Raw cloves. Garlic cloves are known to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Garlic directly interferes with the cholesterol synthesis by liver. However, garlic powder or salt do not have similar effects. Garlic must be taken in fresh form – cooked or uncooked.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil is known for its health benefits. The oil reduces LDL and raises HDL, thus maintains a good HDL/LDL ratio. Other oils such as Sunflower, Soybean, Corn and Safflower however reduce both kinds of cholesterol.
- Onion: Onion raises HDL in blood. Raw onion is more effective in raising the good HDL when compared with the cooked onion. Raw onion is believed to be very effective in cholesterol treatment.
- Fatty Fishes: Salmon and Mackerel.Fatty fishes such as Salmon and Mackerel have HDL raising properties. These fishes contain omega-3 fatty acids.
- Oat: Oat bran and Oatmeal. Oat contains a soluble fiber called Beta-Glucans which interferes in production and absorption of cholesterol. A large bowl of oat bran a day can increase the good HDL to approximately 15 percent. However, Oat works better for some people than for others.
- Beans: Soybean, Kidney, Lentils, Black, Chickpeas. Studies have shown that eating a cup of cooked dry beans daily reduce bad cholesterol by approximately 20 percent. Beans are also known to increase HDLs. For best results, beans must be taken in parts throughout the day.
- Nuts:Almonds, Walnuts. Nuts contain monounsaturated fat which lowers cholesterol and reduces oxidation of LDL. Few nuts per day are beneficial for health, but too many nuts must be avoided as they are high in calories.
- Avocados: Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat thus lower cholesterol as do almonds and olive oil.
- Strawberries: Strawberries are rich in vitamin C, vitamin E and also other antioxidants. Vitamin C protects HDL and hampers LDL transformation. Vitamin E also plays an important role in inhibiting LDL oxidation.
- Carrots:Carrots contain soluble fiber which is effective in lowering cholesterol. Studies have shown that few carrots daily can reduce cholesterol by 20 percent. Carrots also contain beta carotene which is known to raise HDLs.
- Apples:Apples contain pectin - a soluble fiber which helps in reducing cholesterol. Apples also help in raising HDLs. Studies have shown that apples are more effective for women.