Status: 03/17/2023 2:20 p.m
Cholesterol is a vital blood fat. Is the share of However, if LDL cholesterol is permanently too high, it can be dangerous. Those affected should then change their diet.
Cholesterol is a blood fat that is divided into LDL (low-density lipoproteins) and HDL (high-density lipoproteins). About three quarters are produced by the body, the rest we get from food. LDL is considered the “bad” cholesterol, so it should be low. A sufficiently high HDL value, on the other hand, is beneficial.
Blood fats are vital for the body. “It used to be called ‘the bad cholesterol’, but according to today’s knowledge, people want to get away from it. Everything that’s still in your head, such as that eggs, butter, margarine are bad, you wouldn’t say that anymore. Cholesterol in the body is completely normal,” explains nutrition expert Dr. Silja Schäfer.
Too much cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis and thrombosis to lead
If the proportion of LDL cholesterol is too high over a longer period of time, the cholesterol can be deposited on the vessel walls and even completely block vessels over time. As a result, organs are no longer properly supplied with blood. One then speaks of arteriosclerosis. If the cholesterol deposits detach from the vessel walls, thrombosis can form. Possible consequences: a heart attack or Stroke. The insidious thing about it: elevated blood lipid levels, which can also be hereditary, are not felt in the body. They are often only recognized when secondary diseases have already occurred.
High cholesterol: easy diagnosis
In order to determine whether there is an elevated cholesterol level, it is sufficient to measure the cholesterol levels in the blood. Total cholesterol, HDL and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides are examined for the diagnosis. The patient must be sober for the blood to be taken. A total cholesterol value of less than 200 mg/dl and an LDL cholesterol value of less than 115 mg/dl are considered favourable.
However, the assessment of cholesterol levels always depends on the individual risk factors. Doctors recommend having the so-called lipid status checked by a doctor on a regular basis – especially if there have already been cases of heart attacks or strokes in the family. If values are found to be too high, an ultrasound ultrasound examination can be used to clarify whether there are already changes in the vessels.
What foods should you avoid if you have high cholesterol?
A change in diet can prevent and bring the cholesterol levels back into the normal range in the long term. Excess carbohydrates increase blood fat levels because the body converts them into triglycerides, which can clog the veins or be stored in fatty tissue. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid pastries, snacks, ready meals and sugary soft drinks.
A diet with lots of vegetables, nuts and oils with a high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids helps to reduce too much cholesterol. If certain cholesterol values are too high over a longer period of time, a so-called fat-modified diet makes sense. Foods high in saturated fat should be reduced. These are mainly found in animal foods such as butter, cheese, cream, meat and sausages and in a few plant products such as coconut and palm fat. In addition, so-called trans fatty acids increase the LDL cholesterol in the blood. Trans fats are industrially produced from oils and mostly used in the preparation of fast food and ready meals. Basically, the more vegetables and fiber you eat every day, the less you have to worry about cholesterol.
Which foods help to lower blood lipid levels?
Foods with a rather low fat content but a high content of omega-3 fatty acids are recommended. High-fiber products such as oatmeal and oat bran, legumes, almonds, vegetables and whole grain products also help. With these foods, the body absorbs the nutrients more slowly and the feeling of satiety lasts longer. We also recommend low-fat dairy products, lean meat such as chicken breast, sea fish such as salmon or mackerel, and olive, rapeseed and linseed oil. Experts advise the so-called Mediterranean diet. It has proven itself as a well-balanced, low-cholesterol diet. It is best for those affected to become “pescetarians” – vegetarians who occasionally eat fish.
Researchers assume that a healthy diet also has a positive effect on the intestinal flora and that the so-called microbiome is also an important factor in regulating cholesterol levels.
How can I cook and eat less fat?
- Remove bits of fat from the meat and do not eat
- Reach for lower-fat variants of dairy products and watch out for sugar in the ingredients
- Choose oils with a low proportion of saturated fatty acids (e.g. sunflower or linseed oil)
- Prefer to cook food in the oven instead of frying it in a pan
- Use coated pans to use less fat, only add the food after the fat has been heated – this way the food absorbs less of it
Eat cholesterol free?
Merely avoiding foods containing cholesterol – for example eggs – hardly changes the cholesterol value. If we consume little cholesterol with food, the liver produces even more. If we eat more cholesterol, it produces less.
Dietary Supplements: No Reliable Cholesterol Lowering
There are numerous plant-based dietary supplements on the market that, according to manufacturers, are intended to lower cholesterol levels. Important to know: Dietary supplements are not considered medicines, but food. They serve to ensure the supply of nutritionally necessary substances. If they contain active herbal ingredients or food ingredients in doses that exceed the respective daily recommendation of the German Society for Nutrition (DGE), they are considered medicinal products with therapeutic effects. Medicines must be approved based on a proven effect in studies. This approval requirement does not apply to dietary supplements. They must not have any therapeutic effect.
Therefore, only a very small effect on cholesterol levels can be expected from plant-based dietary supplements. One big studyconducted by independent investigators in the USA, showed that common dietary supplements (such as those containing cinnamon, garlic or turmeric) had no effect on cholesterol levels that exceeded the effect of a placebo.
Exercise and weight loss help lower cholesterol
In addition to an adapted diet, other lifestyle changes can also lower cholesterol levels and have a positive effect on risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. This includes Alcohol abstinence, smoking abstinence, regular exercise and weight loss. For every ten kilograms of weight loss, an 8 mg/dl reduction in LDL levels can be expected. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity per week – such as walking, swimming or cycling.
When is cholesterol-lowering therapy necessary?
If the cholesterol levels are permanently elevated and there are other risk factors, treatment with medication is often necessary. Then cholesterol-lowering drugs come into play. In Germany, these are mainly drugs from the active substance group of statins. Their effectiveness has been proven by numerous independent studies. However, statins increase the risk of diabetes because they can raise blood sugar levels.
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