After much demand, I wrote an article explaining the ins and outs of cholesterol, boiling down numerous scientific studies and pathway explanations into one article to clarify what cholesterol is and what it does in your body. But it was a very heavy article with technical explanations, so what did it even mean? Have no fear, this week’s article is on how to PRACTICALLY use the information we have learned to improve our eating habits and lifestyle. The best part? These six easy tips are good whether you have cholesterol problems or not.* They’re simple goals that are good for everyone!
LIMIT SWEET & PROCESSED FOODS
Aim to do physical activity as often as possible to help increase your HDL synthesis. The recommendation for adults is 2h30 per week (30 minutes 5x/week), but I’m telling you to do what is doable for YOU and improve from there. If you only have 5 minutes of spare time, then start with 5 minutes, and increase your intensity when you become more comfortable with the exercise.
Alcohol needs to be processed by the liver, which puts LDL on standby. The LDL particles need to wait their turn to be absorbed and processed, leading to LDL accumulation in your bloodstream and LDL damage. Limit your alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks per day.
Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, which reduces the level of damage that your LDL can have. Aim to have fish-based meals twice per week, the fattier fish the better (salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring).
Fibre is not absorbed by your body when you eat it. However, it does attach to cholesterol found in bile in your gut and gets rid of it in your stool. Then, your liver will make new bile salts by increasing its LDL receptors and reducing overall LDL blood levels. Fibre is found in plant-based foods, such as fruit (eat the peels!), vegetables, and legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc.) Make sure half your plate is filled with veggies, include legumes for protein and have a fruit for dessert! Easy!
The danger with LDL is not their actual number but their level of damage, such as by oxidation. Antioxidants are found in everyday foods that reduce this amount of harmful damage. More specifically, we are talking about vitamin A, C, E, magnesium, zinc and selenium. They are found in your colorful fruit and vegetables (kale, broccoli, eggplant, peppers, berries, asparagus, onions, apricots, leek, etc.)
* The explanations found in this blog article were written as a follow-up on the cholesterol article and are thus incomplete for the general public. However, the tips are still valid!