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We often hear about good cholesterol and bad cholesterol: but who really knows the difference?

There is still some confusion surrounding the topic and often the two types of cholesterol are identified without knowing how much this can affect overall health.

We're here to help you better understand how important a healthy balance of these values is to your body. But above all we will dedicate ourselves to the diet to follow to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood to improve the state of health.

So, having understood what cholesterol is, we will answer the question: what to eat to lower cholesterol? And what to avoid?

So let's find out everything you need to know about cholesterol to have more awareness of our body.

What is cholesterol and why it needs to be monitored

Let's start immediately with the explanation of the term cholesterol. It is a fat molecule which is produced directly by the body, but which can also be reintegrated through food.

There are two types of cholesterol: 

  • LDL cholesterol (also called bad cholesterol) which can cause invasive plaques for the body.
  • HDL cholesterol (also called good cholesterol) which protects the body.

They are both functional for human health and their levels must always be monitored and balanced to avoid imbalances that cause cellular and cardiovascular diseases.

In fact, if cholesterol levels are too high, plaques form that block the arteries and can cause strokes, heart attacks and other serious diseases. In these cases we speak of hypercholesterolemia, but only with values exceeding 240 mg/dl. 

So what to do if the values are too high? Action should be taken immediately to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood. For this purpose, it is nutrition that helps us, with a series of specific ad hoc foods to influence cholesterol and determine an improvement in general health.

Healthy eating and cholesterol

The combination of nutrition and cholesterol can be the winning combination to help the body restore the right values and bring them back to the average, avoiding the serious consequences described above.

But it must be said that you definitely need to change many of your eating habits. So you have to say no to the excesses that tempt you the most, such as fried foods and saturated fats (just to give an incisive example).

Which nutrients to favor to keep cholesterol under control?

  • Fibers, which not only serve to lower cholesterol, but determine the feeling of satiety and help to lose weight.
  • Proteins, essential to ensure energy needs, resistance and muscle strengthening.
  • Good fats, meaning unsaturated fats that don't have to be eliminated or reduced at all like saturated fats.

The Mediterranean diet is ideal for improving the situation when levels exceed the average, because it directly affects the production of good cholesterol, increasing its values and conversely reducing those of bad cholesterol. For this reason, it is often the doctor himself who indicates the personalized diet to follow in order to return to normalcy. The easiest way to know if the road is the right one is a blood sample that determines the precise values and vetoes certain foods that are harmful to the body.

What to eat to lower cholesterol

But let's get to the heart of the matter by specifying what to eat to lower cholesterol: which foods are allowed? And what cooking methods?

Naturally green light to fruit and vegetables, to be consumed more than once a day for their important contribution of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Even better if chosen among the organic foods to be even healthier and free from chemical contamination. But they are not the only foods that have a positive effect on cholesterol. Let's see them together:

  • cereals, from 50 to 80 grams per portion (it also depends on age and gender).
  • legumes, reduce the absorption of fats and therefore significantly lower cholesterol.
  • Bread and pasta, preferably wholemeal to increase the number of fibers in the body.
  • Fish, especially oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, rich in Omega 3.
  • Meat, preferably white.
  • Dried fruit.
  • Waterfall. Drink at least two liters a day.

And how to cook these foods? We have already mentioned that frying is not good. Therefore prefer cooking steamed, grilled or baked. In fact, these methods do not use fats such as oil or butter and are therefore healthier, lighter and retain all the nutritional properties of the cooked food.

So at this point oil is a permitted or prohibited food? This condiment deserves a separate discussion. In fact, consumed sparingly and in moderation it is not harmful to the body and can easily be used to flavor salads or dishes.

And what not to eat at all!

And now let's move on to the hardest part of the diet: forbidden foods!

There are types of food that can really cause a negative leap in cholesterol values and therefore must unfortunately be avoided or limited to get better. Here they are:

  • Red meat. Unfortunately it dramatically increases blood cholesterol levels and therefore should be reduced, or eliminated in the most serious cases. With the exception of lean cuts which can be consumed in small quantities.
  • Cured meats and sausages. Their exaggerated percentage of saturated fat makes them an enemy for those who already have high cholesterol.
  •  Milk and dairy products. Some cheeses or milk derivatives are to be avoided, while milk, if low in fat, is in any case admitted without reservations. No to cream, lard, butter and fatty cheeses.
  • Egg. They are not prohibited but must be reduced. Better to consume only one egg a week.
  • Sugary and alcoholic drinks. Sugar is one of those foods that is not good for cholesterol and therefore any food or drink that has added sugars should be consumed in moderation. In the case of sugary drinks, it is advisable to avoid them. The same goes for alcoholic ones that risk making the situation worse.
  • Sweets. Snacks, pastries or other confectionery products unfortunately fall into the category to be excluded almost entirely. In the case of a birthday, an exception is allowed but only for a very small slice of cake!

However, each food can have different facets, as in the case of cheeses which in some cases are allowed and in others absolutely not. So it is necessary to ask the doctor's opinion to get a clear picture and above all not to make mistakes, even if in good faith.

Advice? Adopt a healthy lifestyle

In conclusion, we have understood what to eat to lower cholesterol and what to avoid, but what still needs to be emphasized is that this is not enough if it is not also associated with a healthy lifestyle. 

What is meant by healthy? The rules to keep in mind are:

  • follow a healthy diet;
  • do regular sporting activity;
  • say no to smoking and alcohol.

The combination of these three factors helps a lot to stay healthy and avoid the cholesterol peak which involves a drastic change in a person's general habits.

After all, it is enough to avoid accesses and live on a regular basis: the organism will be grateful to you!