Cholesterol is a blood fat needed by the body in moderate amount. But high cholesterol levels can lead to atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease and even heart attack. Cholesterol is carried in blood by lipoproteins and deposited in the walls of arteries which therefore narrow and when they block the arteries completely, cause heart attack and strokes.
Methods of increasing good cholesterol or lowering bad cholesterol levels include cholesterol reducing drugs such as statins, fibrates, and nicotinic acid and bile acid resins. High cholesterol level often begins in childhood. Some children may be at a higher risk due to family history of high cholesterol. Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found in all parts of the body. This includes nervous system, skin, muscle, liver, intestines and heart. It is made by the body and also obtained from animal products in the diet.
It is manufactured in the liver for normal functions, including the production of hormones, bile acid and vitamin D. It is transported in the blood to be used by all parts of the body.
Foods and Cholesterol level:
Cholesterol is found in eggs, dairy products, meat and poultry. Egg yolks and organ meats (liver, kidney and brain) are high in cholesterol. Fish generally contains less cholesterol, but some shellfish are high in cholesterol. Foods of plant origin (vegetables, fruits, grains, cereals, nuts and seeds) contain cholesterol. The total cholesterol level should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) because that level carries the least risk of heart disease. When it is higher than 200mg/dl the risk of heart disease increases. One should know the levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL or "good cholesterol") and low density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad cholesterol").
To lower high cholesterol levels:
(1) Limit the total fat intake to 25-35%of total daily calories. Less than 7% of daily calories should be from saturated fat, not more than 10%should be from poly unsaturated fat and not more than from monounsaturated fat.
Saturated fat- These are the cause of high LDL levels found in animal products such as butter, cheese, milk, fatty meats etc and also in vegetable oils such as coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil.
Unsaturated fat- Fats that help to lower blood cholesterol if used in place of saturated fats. It consists of lot of calories and it is necessary to limit them. Most vegetable oils are unsaturated (except coconut oil, palm oil etc). There are two types of unsaturated fats. They are
(a) Monounsaturated -e.g. olive and canola oil.
(b) Polyunsaturated - e.g. fish, safflower, sunflower, corn and soybean oils.
(2) Eat less than 200mg of dietary cholesterol per day.
(3) Get more fiber in the diet.
(4) Lose weight.
(5) Increase physical activity.
The recommendations for children diets are similar to adults. It is important that children get enough calories to support their growth and activity level and so that the children achieve and maintain a desirable body weight.
Foods that lower cholesterol:
(1) Eat fiber rich breakfast such as oatmeal, whole grain porridge, fruits etc. Oat bran and rice bran are most effective. Switch to whole grains.
(2) Eat legume (bean, pea etc) at least three times a week. Soy protein is effective. Even soymilk, tofu and textured soy protein are good.
(3) Eat five serving of fruits and vegetables daily.
(4) Eat garlic. Cooked or raw garlic contain compounds to lower your liver's production of cholesterol. Others include raw onion, salmon, olive oil, almond etc.
(5) Eat plenty of food which contain natural antioxidants, vitamin C and E. e.g. sweet red and green pepper, melon, sunflower seeds, walnuts, strawberries, papaya, almonds, peanuts, orange, grapefruit juice, wheat germ, soybeans, broccoli and Brussels sprout.
Dry bean, fresh fruits, whole grains, vegetables and vegetable juice are known as Cholesterol lowering food
Low cholesterol diet:
Toss the butter, Trans fat margarines and polyunsaturated oils increases Cholesterol level. Replace them with canola oil, olive oil or plant sterol spreads. Products specifically created for low-cholesterol diets like Minute maid Heart wise orange juice and Benecol, promise, Smart Balance and Take control margarines. These foods have been fortified with plant sterols and stanols that help to block the absorption of cholesterol. Start your day with oatmeal. Try cholesterol free egg substitute instead of whole eggs. Use white wine vinegar instead of using butter to keep your pan moist while cooking. Fish or omega 3, Nuts, Lean red meat reduced-fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, oats and grains should be part of your meal as they are Low cholesterol foods.