Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is required by our body for proper functioning. It is present in the food that we eat and is also manufactured by liver. Lipid profile is the blood test that is commonly done to measure cholesterol in the blood. HDL, LDL, triglycerides and total fat are some parameters that are measured. High LDL causes deposit in the arteries and veins of the heart and create blockages. This blockage interrupts the blood flow that leads to heart attacks and strokes. Following are some points that help understand these parameters and foods that affect their quantities.
1. HDL is good cholesterol and LDL is bad cholesterol. HDL in turn helps decrease LDL. Saturated fats leads to more production of LDL by lever and hence bad.
2. Cholesterol good or bad in right quantities is required by body for proper functioning. One should try to control the intake of saturated fats rather than cholesterol in regular diet.
3. All animal products including dairy products like milk, cream, curd, ghee, butter, ice cream etc contains high amount of saturated fats and hence bad for heart. Use fat free or low fat milk and avoid eating ghee. Creamers and milk powders like coffeemate powder have high saturated fat.
4. Unsaturated fats decrease the amount of cholesterol and hence decrease the risk of heart problems. Monounsaturated fat is very good because it helps decrease LDL and increase HDL. Polyunsaturated fat comes next because it decreases both LDL and HDL.
5. Canola oil (rapeseed oil) and olive oil are best for cooking because they contain very low percentage of saturated fats and high monounsaturated fats.
6. All dry fruits except coconut have low saturated fats and high unsaturated fats. Thus dry fruits are good for heart. Almonds are the best with very low saturated fats and high monounsaturated fats. Other nuts like cashews, peanuts, pistachio and walnuts have higher amount of saturated fats. Remember though that all these nuts have very high calorie content.
7. Coconut and all its products have very high saturated fats. So stop eating coconut products if concerned with heart problems.
8. Triglycerides are the fat that provides us with energy. Very high amount combined with high LDL and low HDL leads to heart problems. Doing little exercise and walking etc keeps triglycerides under control.
9. Trans fats are another kind of fats that increase LDL in the body like saturated fats. Hence one should decrease their intake. Naturally they are present in meat and milk products. They are mostly the result of hydrogenation of vegetable oils and are present in biscuits, cakes and other processes and packaged products. Anything described as ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partly hydrogenated’ is trans fat.
10. Do not take any medicine for cholesterol until recommended by the doctor. High cholesterol can be decreased by changing eating habits and lifestyle. People with high cholesterol who are otherwise fit, not overweight, drink moderately and not smoke are usually not offered medicines.