Cholesterol is a dreaded word in the world of health and wellness these days because it has become associated with LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol rather than HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol. LDL can build up in the walls of arteries, restricting blood flow and increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
However, there is also good cholesterol, referred to as HDL (high-density lipoprotein), which can protect your heart and other organs from the detrimental effects of bad cholesterol and improve your health.
HDL is called “good cholesterol” as it aids in removing harmful or bad cholesterol from the bloodstream; thus, high levels of it are associated with a lower risk of heart
disease. Cholesterol is a wax-like substance produced by the body that serves many important functions, including cell building. It is carried through our bloodstream attached to proteins known as lipoproteins.
One way to combat high cholesterol is to increase good cholesterol levels, which can be accomplished by quitting smoking and drinking and adding nutritious foods to your diet. Excess of anything is undesirable, and extremely high levels of HDL are thus undesirable and may increase the risk of a heart attack. Limiting your intake of saturated fats, sugary foods, and other high-calorie foods can also help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Chia seeds are a good source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and other healthy nutrients. Adding chia seeds to your diet may help lower LDL levels and decrease blood pressure.
The chewy whole grain is another great source of beta glucan, a soluble fibre that can help improve the HDL to LDL ratio.
The fat in walnuts is mostly omega-3 fats, which are a type of monounsaturated fatty acid with heart-protective properties. As a result, walnuts lower total blood cholesterol while increasing HDL, or good cholesterol.
Coconut oil has been shown to raise cholesterol levels — the good and the bad kinds. And in truth, medium-chain triglycerides make up only a small amount of the fatty acids in coconut oil.
The vegetarian equivalent of meat, soybean bursts with the goodness of unsaturated fat, fibre, and protein. Also, the isoflavones in soy increase HDL levels and if phytoestrogens reduce LDL levels and triglycerides, thus improving your lipid profile.