Cholesterol is a fat that is produced in the liver and introduced through the diet, in particular, with the consumption of products of animal origin, such as eggs or meat .
Although it has several important roles in the human body, it is important to keep its values within the reference limits , as high cholesterol values could be associated with greater cardiovascular risk .
Let’s find out better.
- What is cholesterol
- Causes of high cholesterol
- How to prevent high cholesterol
- What to eat
- What not to ea
What is cholesterol
Cholesterol is a molecule that belongs to the category of lipids (fats), which is partly produced by the liver and partly taken from food of animal origin.
It performs numerous and very important functions , for example, it constitutes cell membranes and is the precursor of some hormones , such as estrogen and testosterone and vitamin D.
In the right doses , therefore, cholesterol is a fundamental molecule for maintaining health, but, if in excess , it can lead to an increase in cardiovascular risk.
LDL ( Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol is also known as “bad cholesterol”, due to its adverse effects on cardiovascular health. In fact, when blood cholesterol is high , LDLs tend to deposit on the artery wall, forming plaques that obstruct blood flow, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
On the contrary, HDL cholesterol (High Density Lipoprotein), also known as ” good cholesterol “, protects against vascular risk thanks to its ability to clean the blood, arteries and LDL cholesterol, which is then transported back to the liver to be disposed of.
When we talk about high total cholesterol , therefore, to evaluate the risks associated with it, we must take into account both components ( good and bad cholesterol ) and which of the two factors is responsible for this value: high LDL cholesterol or high HDL cholesterol ( or both)
The main causes of high cholesterol are lifestyle and genetics .
Contrary to what one might imagine, dietary cholesterol hardly has a major impact on cholesterolemia .
In fact, the liver tends to produce less cholesterol if it is already taken largely through food , thus balancing the total cholesterol levels.
An excessive intake of carbohydrates and fats , a sedentary lifestyle and overweight / obesity , on the other hand, can greatly influence blood cholesterol levels and cause hypercholesterolemia.
Furthermore, in Italy, about 1 in 500 people suffer from familial hypercholesterolemia, caused by a genetic alteration that reduces the ability of cells to dispose of cholesterol in the blood, causing it to accumulate.
How to prevent high cholesterol
The risks of high cholesterol are mainly those of developing cardiovascular diseases , therefore, it is important to prevent it through the classic rules useful, in general, to stay healthy and prevent chronic diseases.
Although there may be a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol, in fact, lifestyle remains the main prevention factor. In particular:
- Follow a varied and balanced diet .
- Limit sugary foods and drinks or foods high in fat, especially saturated ones.
- Limit alcohol .
- Engage in regular physical activity .
What to eat
The high cholesterol and triglyceride diet consists simply of a healthy, varied and balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet. In particular, the following must never be missing:
- Extra virgin olive oil , dried fruit , avocado and fatty fish , rich in polyunsaturated fats.
- Legumes , whole grains , fruits and vegetables , rich in fiber.
- Spices and herbs , such as garlic , turmeric , thyme , cinnamon , rich in antioxidants.
- Green tea , rich in antioxidants.
- Soy and derivatives .
What not to eat
In most cases, it may not be necessary to eliminate certain foods from the diet , but only to consume them in adequate quantities and frequencies. In particular:
- Avoid the consumption of alcohol .
- Avoid sugary drinks and packaged and industrial products.
- Prefer good vegetable fats, such as extra virgin olive oil or nuts and avoid foods rich in saturated fats .
- Limit the consumption of red meats , which tend to be fatter than white ones.
- Limit the consumption of aged cheeses , which are higher in fat than fresh cheeses.
- Limit the consumption of eggs . National guidelines recommend 2 to 4 eggs per week.