You might have heard about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Everybody on the Earth would love to skip the bad cholesterol and only eat the good form of cholesterol. This article will tell you about the foods that will help you raise your good cholesterol and avoid the bad.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a lipid (fat) which is synthesized in the liver and is found in every cell of the body. It has several functions but it is mainly an important component in the formation of hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids. It also helps in the digestion of food.
What are lipoproteins?
The word “lipoprotein” has two components; ‘lipo’ means fat and ‘proteins’ are the essential proteins. Lipoproteins are cholesterol carriers. Cholesterol cannot be absorbed into the blood, thus, it is carried to and from the cells with the help of lipoproteins.
Types of lipoproteins
- High density lipoproteins (HDL): These are considered good for the body.
- Intermediate density lipoproteins (IDL): These lipoproteins may harm your body.
- Low density lipoproteins (LDL): This type of lipoprotein is considered bad.
- Very low density lipoproteins (VLDL): These are extremely harmful for the body and organs.
Types of cholesterol
There are mainly two forms of cholesterol, good cholesterol and bad cholesterol.
High density lipoproteins (HDL) are referred to as “Good cholesterol” because this cholesterol is brought back to the liver for breakdown, removal, or reuse rather than accumulating in any part of the body.
LDL (low density lipoprotein), on the other hand, is referred to as Bad Cholesterol. The reason behind this is that it can neither be excreted out from the body nor can it be reused. It is accumulated within the body. High levels of LDL or bad cholesterol may lead to atherosclerosis (accumulation of fat in blood vessels).
Remember: “Atherosclerosis” is the major cause of heart attack.
Foods that raise your good cholesterol
You might have heard a lot of people telling you not to eat fried food or junk food. They are right. Many foods, especially fast food, tend to raise your cholesterol level. The cholesterol that you get from junk food is LDL – bad cholesterol. But there are several foods that are known to raise the good cholesterol level in your body.
Here are the 11 foods that raise the level of good cholesterol in the body and can be very useful for the metabolism of the body.
There is a misconception about seafood that it increases your cholesterol levels. Many people, especially heart patients, refrain from eating seafood because of this mistaken belief. No doubt that seafood is high in cholesterol levels, but the cholesterol found in the seafood is good cholesterol.
A study from the United States showed that seafood, particularly shellfish, is low in fat and it boosts your good cholesterol. Another advantage of seafood is the fish oil. It contains omega-3 fatty acids which are extremely helpful for the heart patients. This oil is found to decrease LDL and prevent several heart conditions. See also: Best fish to eat
A research at University of Connecticut has proved that whole egg, egg white plus yolk, is a healthy food and is found to raise good cholesterol level in the blood. The egg yolk contains Lecithin which is a substance that increases your HDL without altering the level of LDL.
Berries have always known to be very healthy because of their antioxidant rich nature. You will be glad to know that this delicious fruit has now been found to have cholesterol lowering abilities as well.
Recent researches have proved that berries are a natural fat lowering agent and are as effective as medicines. These little fruits have not only lowered the levels of fat and bad cholesterol, but also slightly raise the levels of good cholesterol in the blood. Eating a handful of berries every day keeps obesity and heart diseases away. (Health benefits of berries)
4. Orange juice
Orange juice is one of the best and the most delicious way of raising your good cholesterol. Medical researchers have proven that drinking 3 glasses (750ml) of orange juice increases the good cholesterol (HDL) by 19%.
It does not only increase HDL but also decreases the bad cholesterol (LDL) level in the blood by 16%. Orange, in the fruit form, is also known to be very helpful in improving your lipid profile.
This small pear-shaped fruit is rich in fat. The good thing about this fruit is that it has unsaturated fat which is heart-friendly. Avocados are known to remarkably increase the level of good cholesterol in blood. This fruit also decreases the bad cholesterol and saturated fat which is harmful for your health. See also: How much fat should I eat?
The nuts are in the top of the list of healthiest foods because they are powerful sources of energy. They do not have any cholesterol at all but they are known to raise your good cholesterol level because of the high level of unsaturated fats. I always recommend heart patients start their day with a handful of nuts.
7. Olive oil
If you love the foods that are cooked in oil, olive oil is the best choice over many of the popular cooking oils. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated (good) fats. If you want to see yourself healthy and happy, replace your cooking oil with olive oil. It does not contain bad cholesterol at all and is a good source of good cholesterol.
The American Heart Association conducted various researches and came to a result that soy-based foods do not remarkably decrease the level of total cholesterol. However, they concluded that eating soy-based foods outstandingly reduced the risk of heart diseases. This is due to the high level of good cholesterol and fats in soy foods.
Oatmeal, oat bran, and foods rich in fiber are the enemies of the bad cholesterol. Oatmeal contains a soluble fiber which is known to push down the bad cholesterol level in blood. Soluble fiber is also found in apples, barley, prunes, and pears.
10. Beans and lentils
All types of beans aid in reducing LDL levels in the blood. A research by College of Medicine – University of Kentucky showed that beans, because of the high soluble fiber level, increases HDL in the blood by 20%. A cup of beans a day keeps the disease away.
11. Garlic & Onions
You may be surprised to know that garlic and onions also help in the quest to raise the levels of good cholesterol. These vegetables may not remarkably decrease total cholesterol level but they do raise good cholesterol levels. The only reason I don’t recommend this to my patients is the because of the bad odor.