Many of you have undoubtedly noticed a series of television advertisements for certain foods, whose daily consumption will reduce the amount of cholesterol in blood after few days; otherwise the producer will refund the money. Really an interesting ad, but is it really necessary to worry about high cholesterol levels, as doctors and manufacturers of certain products always “scare” us?
Let’s look at this issue in more detail. Cholesterol is an essential substance for our body, it’s a part of almost all fats. It’s the starting material for the production of certain hormones, is an essential component of bile acids (without them, we are unable to digest food) and cholesterol is also a source of vitamin D (among others).
Our body produces cholesterol partly in the liver, the rest is taken with the animal foods – if, because of different diets, we accept no cholesterol, the body increases its own production, so in fact there is no shortage of it (human adult body contains so much as 100g of this substance). Doctors are continually calling upon us to carefully monitor cholesterol levels – normal values for adults should fall to 5 mmol/l, the range of 5 – 6.5 mmol/l means elevated values and if the detected value moves above 6.5 mmol/l, it’s a risk value. What does all this mean for us?
The fact is that when cholesterol approaches higher values, it may be stored in the walls of our blood vessels and cause their hardening – therefore causing the narrowing of blood vessels and leading to disorders of blood circulation, which may eventually result in heart attack – stroke.
But the whole issue of income and control of blood cholesterol is a bit more complicated. Cholesterol is transported in our blood by substances called lipoproteins. There are two types of them – the so-called “bad” lipoproteins or LDL (low density lipoprotein), which carry cholesterol to the organs (with its excessive concentration, unfortunately, also to the walls of damaged blood vessels, where they promote atherosclerotic processes) and so-called “good” lipoproteins or HDL (high density lipoprotein), which carry cholesterol from the organs.
In most cases the higher cholesterol levels are linked to a higher number of lipoproteins, especially LDL – and this is where the problems occur and the experts are trying to warn us. Cholesterol bound to LDL tends to oxidize and then store in the sclerotic plaques in artery walls.
Our body can’t cope with the excess of “bad” cholesterol itself (in a healthy individual, the HDL content is approximately 4 times lower than LDL). However, we can help our body to fight against these processes in a number of ways. An effective and permanent solution is including such foods to our diet that contain plenty of antioxidants (vitamin C and E, carotenoids and a wide range of phytonutrients with antioxidant capabilities) and which reduce the amount of LDL and slightly increase HDL. Such foods include raw onion and garlic, citrus fruits in general, avocado, moderate amounts of wine (especially red), cold-pressed oils (olive, flax, safflower), fish as a source of omega-3 fatty acids, green tea, soy as a rich source of lecithin, etc.
A change in diet is also important to limit the intake of saturated (animal) and polyunsaturated acids (found mainly in vegetable oils), which increase “bad” cholesterol in the blood. And of course, avoiding excessive consumption of foods rich in cholesterol (intestines, cream, melted fat cheese, etc.) is a no-brainer.