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Cholesterol and triglycerides

There are two types of fats produced by our liver. Its levels are generally related to diet, physical activity, genetics, illness and alcohol use. With proper treatment it is possible to reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty chemical compound that integrates the cell membrane of the body. Most are synthesized in the liver and are transported in the blood by special proteins, the “lipoproteins”, responsible for the distribution of this cholesterol to all the cells of the body. The most important are LDL and HDL. One of these, LDL-cholesterol is associated with the risk of developing coronary heart disease and that is why it has become popularly known as “bad cholesterol”. As this substance integrates the cells of the body, it is natural that foods of animal origin are rich in cholesterol. Vegetables, in turn, are low in cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a fundamental component for the integrity of cells and the production of hormones. Its excess circulation, however, can be harmful to the body. It can be acquired through food or by endogenous production in the liver.

Therefore, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises when undergoing a blood test (which must be performed annually), it is good to keep an eye on what you put on your plate. Animal foods, for example, are champions in cholesterol. On the other hand, there are those who are true allies, as they help to reduce the rates of this substance in the blood. See the guidelines:

Don’t overdo it …

Meats and sausages demand moderate consumption
Meat, especially fatty ones, offal (liver, kernels, offal), sausages, poultry skins and chicken wings
Dairy products (whole milk, yellow cheeses, sour cream, fatty sauces)
Seafood (shrimp, squid, etc.)
Butter (ready-made cakes, pies, pastry, buttered cookies)
Ice cream, stuffed cookies, condensed milk, chocolate (white is the worst) fast food and savory (mainly vegan)

Include in the diet

Oats: it contains a fiber that helps to reduce LDL cholesterol. Studies have shown that patients who consumed 3 grams of this fiber achieved an 8 to 23% reduction in total cholesterol. To consume that amount, you need to eat about two tablespoons full of oat bran.

Soy: the food and drug regulatory agency FDA (Food and Drug Administration) suggests consuming 25 grams of soy protein daily to prevent the onset of heart disease, as it helps to reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels.

Phytosterols: these substances are found in vegetables (such as sunflower seeds) and also block the absorption of fat from the diet, which favors the reduction of cholesterol. As they are not so abundant in vegetables, the food industry decided to isolate them. Therefore, they can be found in products such as margarine and yogurt.

Antioxidants: they (and here the flavonoids stand out) can inhibit the oxidation of LDL particles, reducing their power to block blood vessels. Flavonoids are found mainly in dark green vegetables, fruits (such as cherry, blackberry, grape, strawberry, jaboticaba and apple), grains (flax, soy, etc.), seeds, nuts, condiments and herbs (turmeric, oregano, cloves and rosemary) and also in drinks such as wine, grape juice and teas.

What are triglycerides and how do they affect arteries?

Triglycerides are the main fat originating from food, but they can be synthesized by the body. High levels of triglycerides (above 200) are associated with a higher occurrence of coronary heart disease, although high levels of triglycerides are usually accompanied by low levels of HDL; it is, therefore, difficult to pinpoint the real “villain”: whether the triglyceride is high or the HDL is low ”.

The intake of fat, sweets and alcohol can increase triglycerides, which is why you should measure your blood concentration after 8 hours of fasting. Very high triglycerides, above 400-500, can cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) and must therefore be treated aggressively with diet and drugs.

The good news is that when adopting a balanced diet, the positive effects on triglyceride levels will not take long to appear.

• Do not overdo the sugar: depending on the case, it is worth replacing it with sweeteners

• Limit the amount of carbohydrates: do not consume rice, pasta, potatoes and flour in the same meal. Choose only one carbohydrate source and, if possible, in its full version.

• Control your intake of sweets in general, such as soft drinks, sweetened boxed juices, desserts, candies, etc.

Include in the diet

Foods rich in omega 3: This substance helps in the control and reduction of triglycerides and, therefore, must be part of the diet. To get it, just bet on fish, such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod and herring.

The recommendation, according to the nutritionist, is 180 grams of food during the week. One can also opt for capsules containing fish oil. But in this case, it is important to look for a nutritionist or doctor to prescribe the supplement.

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