Is Your Cholesterol a Problem?
If you are one of the many North American’s that have recently had their blood tested and found out they have elevated triglycerides, reduced HDL cholesterol and/or blood glucose imbalances, I am here to tell you there is hope. Nutrition can make a huge impact on cholesterol and help turn your health around before serious issues arise. Finding out you have high cholesterol levels can come as a shock to many and there is little advice given once the results are in so today, we are going to discuss how simple additions to your meals can help get you on the path to health.
But first what does it mean to have high cholesterol? It’s important to note that cholesterol, which is a fatty waxy substance, is vital to our cells and it’s naturally made in the liver. Our body makes enough cholesterol on its own, so if we never ate food with cholesterol ever again, we would be okay. That being said, there are some extremely healthy foods that contain high levels of cholesterol that we should not be afraid of eating either. Cholesterol is not only part of every cell wall in our body but it’s vital for making hormones, vitamin D and digestive juices.
There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol in the blood, LDL or Low-density lipoproteins and HDL or High-density lipoproteins. LDL cholesterol is often referred to as the “bad cholesterol” as it’s the cholesterol that is found in the plaque build up in the arteries. LDL is the lipoprotein that carries the cholesterol made in the liver to all areas of our body. Cholesterol has anti-inflammatory properties so when there is inflammation in the arteries this cholesterol sticks to the areas of damage and acts to protect the artery walls. Unfortunately, these plaques can build up and the arteries become narrow and blockages can occur. HDL is the lipoprotein that carries cholesterol from the extremities of the body back to the liver to be broken down. It is referred to as the “good cholesterol”.
As I mentioned before cholesterol is needed in the body but when there is inflammation in the cardiovascular system (which can occur for several reasons) the balance between the good and the bad cholesterol becomes very important. This is where nutrition can really help. It can help bring down inflammation to help with plaque build up AND it can tip the balance of HDL vs. LDL cholesterol in the direction of GOOD.
There are three types of foods that will help lower your LDL cholesterol, increase your HDL cholesterol and therefore bring your cholesterol ratio back into a healthy balance.
1. High Fiber Foods – There has been discussion around foods like oatmeal being fantastic for lowering cholesterol, but did you know it’s not so much just oatmeal but the soluble fiber in the oatmeal that improves cholesterol? Its best to aim for 5-10 grams of soluble fiber each day to reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your blood stream. If you don’t like oatmeal don’t fret, other foods high in soluble fiber are great as well. Beans, apples, strawberries, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, broccoli, pears and carrots are all great examples.
2. High Quality Fats – You may be skeptical about this one, but fats are highly anti-inflammatory when you consume high quality healthy sources. Omega 3 fatty acids found in wild caught fish are great examples of fats that improve your cardiovascular health and therefore reduce possible plaque build up in the arteries. Nuts and seeds, olive oil and the ever-popular avocado is not only a source of healthy fat but it’s also high in soluble fiber!
3. Foods that Reduce LDL Cholesterol – There are some foods that are just plain fantastic for the effect they have on lowering LDL levels in the blood. By adding these foods regularly, it is hoped that you too will see the results! Asparagus, blueberries, cooked tomatoes for lycopene, as well as dark chocolate (must be >70% cocoa) all have shown to improve LDL numbers. There are chemicals found in these foods called sterols and flavonoids that work with the chemistry of the body to improve health.
I should mention that lifestyle plays a big part in the balance of good versus bad cholesterol as well. The more activity you get the better your cholesterol balance. Movement and gentle exercise can help improve cholesterol numbers, so make sure you are getting out and moving your body for 30 minutes each day!
Are you looking to get even healthier? Are you dealing with high cholesterol? Could you use some support figuring out what foods you could add to your everyday to support getting your cholesterol numbers back into balance? Curious about how nutritional health coaching can help you make healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with us today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Visit www.noshoesnutrition.com and sign up for a FREE consultation. We work with people from all over the world individually or in groups so don’t let anything hold you back!