Cholesterol is a type of fat that is made by the liver and comes from the food that we eat. Everybody needs to have some cholesterol in order to stay healthy as it allows an individual to be able to digest fat. Some cholesterol is required to maintain the health of the body but too much cholesterol in the blood increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. When the level of cholesterol rises, an extra cholesterol in the blood is stored in the arteries and cause them to narrow. Sometimes, when the level becomes too high, a large deposit of cholesterol can lead to the blockage of an artery and as a result, a supply of blood to the heart is also blocked.
Cholesterol travels through the blood in the form of lipoproteins and there are two types of lipoprotein in the body:
- Low Density Lipoprotein - It is also known as a bad cholesterol and this is because it carries cholesterol to the tissues, including the arteries and increases the risk of developing heart disease.
- High Density Lipoprotein - It is also known as a good cholesterol and this is because it takes cholesterol from tissues to the liver which removes it from the body. Low level of high density lipoprotein in the body increases the risk of developing heart disease.
It is essential to maintain the levels of cholesterol in the body and it can be done by choosing a right food. Here is the list of some food items that increase the level of high density lipoprotein and decreases the level of low density lipoprotein.
Multiple studies have suggested that food and drinks that are rich in flavonoids decrease the total cholesterol level by decreasing the low density lipoproteins and increasing the high density lipoproteins in the bloodstream. Dark chocolate is known to contain more flavonoid in each serving as compared to any other food. Some researchers claim that consumption of food and beverages that are rich in flavonoids are at a decreased risk of suffering from cardiovascular mortality. High low density lipoprotein is strongly associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds of plants that have antioxidant effects and it inhibits the oxidation of low density lipoprotein.
Consumption of dark chocolate plays a role in preventing the development of various chronic health problems. It contains many compounds that contain antioxidant properties that have beneficial effects on numerous health problems.
The nutritional value of soy is very high with high protein content, all essential amino acids, excellent fat profile, minerals, vitamins and other compounds that are beneficial for the health. Certain studies claim that consumption of soy products reduces plasma cholesterol and as a result, it also reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Also, soy protein is a rich source of isoflavones, genistein, and daidzein and these compounds contain hypocholesterolemic effect. Isoflavones are known to significantly reduce total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Soy products have been part of human diets for a long time but in recent years, the consumption of soy based products have been associated with various health benefits, particularly lowering the low density lipoprotein cholesterol and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Avocado is nutrient dense food. Researchers found that consumption of avocado significantly reduces total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein, and triglycerides. Triglycerides are also a type of fat that is found in the blood and high level of triglycerides in the blood can have a negative effect on the health of an individual. The avocado is a fruit which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and the consumption of a diet that is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids has a positive effect on serum lipid and has been associated with lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Numerous studies suggest that people who are obese or overweight are more likely to suffer from the cholesterol related problems. It has been observed that people who consume avocado have reduced body mass index as compared to those who do not consume avocado. Also, avocado significantly increases high density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood.
Nuts contain a high amount of proteins and fat, mostly unsaturated fatty acids. Nuts are also rich in other nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other constituents such as phytosterols and phenolic compounds. Multiple studies have demonstrated that consumption of different types of nuts decreases total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol. Nuts are rich in plant sterols and other natural compounds that contribute to cholesterol lowering and it does this by interfering with cholesterol absorption.
Walnuts are the rich source of folate, vitamin E and other nutrients. Consumption of walnuts do not increase the body mass index of an individual and decreases the risk of being overweight. Obesity is strongly associated with an increased risk of developing cholesterol related problems.