The power of food to control cholesterol

The power of food to control cholesterol

Cholesterol is essential for the body, as it is responsible for all the membranes that surround cells and assists in the processes of metabolism. It is also necessary for cell growth and regeneration and, in addition to being present in the blood and in all tissues, it collaborates with the production of sex hormones and cortisol (a hormone linked to stress).

Diet plays an important role in preventing and maintaining adequate blood cholesterol levels (Image: shutterstock)

Photo: EdiCase Portal

The role of food in prevention

Diet plays an important role in preventing and maintaining adequate blood cholesterol levels. “Inadequate food, rich in saturated fat, trans, simple carbohydrates and low in fiber can increase cholesterol”, warns Joana Lucyk, Master in Nutrition at UnB.

Good cholesterol protects the body by collecting bad cholesterol deposited in blood vessels to be eliminated by the liver. Bad cholesterol, when present in large amounts in the body, can cause clogging of the arteries – atherosclerosis, responsible for cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

Have healthy habits

Both types of cholesterol can be influenced by our lifestyle habits. Good cholesterol, for example, can increase when you exercise or eat certain foods. Bad cholesterol, on the other hand, is increased by factors such as wrong diet and excess weight and is usually associated with other risk factors such as diabetes, smoking and high blood pressure.

How do fats affect cholesterol?

It is important to understand that there are different types of fat and that some bring more benefits than others. Therefore, for a balanced diet, one must respect the ideal amounts of consumption of each one.

“Saturated fat is present in foods of animal origin such as meat, eggs, butter, milk and derivatives. It must complete up to 10% of the total energy in the daily diet. These fats increase the risk of dyslipidemias (high levels of fats in the blood ) and heart disease and, for this reason, should be consumed in moderation”, explains nutritionist Gabriela Marcellino.

Unsaturated fats are beneficial to the body, but they should also be consumed in moderate amounts. They are divided into monounsaturated – present in vegetable oils and oilseeds, and polyunsaturated – which can be found in vegetable oils and cold water fish oil. Therefore, it is not recommended to exclude fats entirely, but to choose them according to their nutritional quality.

Nutritionist Simone Abreu explains in detail what saturated, unsaturated and trans fat are

Saturated fat

Which is: a type of fat found mainly in products of animal origin and which, at room temperature, is in a solid state.

Where it is found: red and white meats (mainly meat fat and poultry skin), whole milk and derivatives (butter, cream, yogurt, cream) and palm oil.

unsaturated fat

Which is: found mainly in vegetables. It is liquid at room temperature. There are monounsaturated (with only one carbon double bond) and polyunsaturated (with more than one carbon double bond).

Effects on the body: helps reduce bad cholesterol, triglycerides (a type of fat that, in high levels, can cause coronary heart disease) and blood pressure.

Where it is found: olive oil, canola and corn oil, almonds, Brazil nuts, avocados, flaxseeds, trout and salmon.

Trans fat

Which is: a type of fat formed by a chemical process (hydrogenation), in which liquid vegetable oils are transformed into a solid fat.

Effects on the body: does not provide any health benefits. This type of fat raises bad cholesterol and at the same time lowers the good.

Where it is found: margarine, crackers, chips, ice cream and snack foods.

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