Before blaming family genetics, or panic over the latest blood test, it's important to first remember that cholesterol is, first and foremost, an essential molecule, without it there would be no life, and also - that we have the ability to influence the level of cholesterol in our bodies.
The level of cholesterol in our body is a result of the process of creating cholesterol by the liver. In fact, over 85% of our cholesterol is created by the liver. The rest comes from eating animal products: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy.
The body is an amazing system, and if a healthy body creates cholesterol, then it is indeed an essential material in our bodies:
- Cholesterol is used to build needed steroids.- Cholesterol is used to build hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.- Cholesterol is vital for the creation of vitamin D.- The membrane of every cell in our body contains cholesterol.
When there's too much cholesterol
A situation of higher than normal levels of cholesterol can be worrying, because it may build inside the blood vessels and cause coronary diseases and problems with blood flow.
As of today, the normal range of cholesterol in the body is up to 200 mg.
The common medicine to take care of additional cholesterol delay the enzyme that takes part in the process of creating cholesterol in the liver so in fact we limit the rate of building our own cholesterol. But is it logical for us to limit the internal creation of cholesterol without addressing the external source? Nutrition will always be at the forefront of dealing with a surplus of cholesterol.
How can we reduce the levels of cholesterol?
- Reducing or eliminating animal foods: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products and especially foods rich in fat and cholesterol.
- Consuming Phytosterolsthat come from vegetation. Phytosterols have a similar chemical structure to cholesterol and because of this similarity they both compete for absorption by the lower intestine, and so consuming them will reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed. A good daily amount would be 1.5-2.5 grams a day.
Best sources for Phytosterols: Sesame oil and corn oil but also grains, nuts and seeds: wheat germ, flax seed, wheat bran, peanuts, almonds and cashews, fruits and vegetables: beets, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions, oranges and legumes: peas and beans. Legumes and grains are a good source of proteins instead of the fat rich foods.
- Staying away from trans-fats. Trans fat also appears as vegetable oil that has gone through hydrogenation in order to make it harder. This fat is not recommended at all and you'd be best staying clear of it. It is mainly found in processed foods such as margarine, puff pastry, pastries such as croissants, and processed cakes and cookies.
A few more tips...
- Consuming anti-oxidants will help limit the oxidation of cholesterol and consuming them will help getting the cholesterol off the artery walls.
- Consuming soluble fibers, which are abundant in full wheat products, oatmeal, vegetables and fruit. These absorb conversion salts in the digestion system and the body then uses cholesterol to make new ones, thus reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood stream.
- Daily exercise. We know it's tough, but you'll thank us when you get less bad cholesterol, and more good cholesterol.