Eating High Cholesterol Foods And Staying Healthy Too!
Posted Dec 20 2008 5:37pm
“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are,” said the French philosopher. Two hundred years later, doctors agree. If you eat unhealthy, you end up unhealthy. Here we focus on just one of many dietary villains: cholesterol, and his sidekick, triglycerides. If you want to steer clear of heart and artery disease, then you must understand the unhealthy nexus between the cholesterol- (and triglyceride-) laden food you consume and cardio-vascular disease. This understanding is crucial to making an informed decision about your choice of food, because that’s going to affect your health and your life.
Health magazines and sites warn you about the dangers of cholesterol. They say that high levels of cholesterol in your diet can and do lead to serious heart problems like strokes, heart attacks, heart disease, and artery disease. These serious ailments and conditions are further aggravated if you smoke, or suffer from hypertension and obesity, or have a hereditary condition.
The thing to understand is that when we speak of cholesterol, we are actually speaking of three different things: good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), and triglycerides. Triglycerides are not really cholesterol but are very intimately associated with regular cholesterol. Now not all these things are unhealthy or disease causing. In fact the body requires cholesterol and triglycerides too. The trick is in identifying the good ones and including them in your daily diet, and simultaneously avoiding the unhealthy ones. Fish cholesterol and triglycerides is good. Omega-3 fats found in a number of fish are recommended by physicians and nutritionists for patients suffering from diseases caused by cholesterol, because Omega-3 actually helps to reduce the level of bad cholesterol.
The food containing cholesterol is not always to blame for cholesterol related problems. The way the food is cooked, the medium used to cook the food, and even the foods eaten along with basic food are all contributory factors to high levels of bad cholesterol. Ignorance of the facts about cholesterol and how they affect our health has often led to ridiculous situations about certain foods. Once upon a time eggs were a considered a must-have food for proper health; then it was discovered that eggs were rich in bad cholesterol, and thenceforth eggs were banished from the breakfast, lunch and dinner tables. Now we are advised to have the whites of the eggs but to stay away from the yolks!
Some specific foods do have significant cholesterol content. Unfortunately, these specific foods are less to blame for high cholesterol levels than the other foods that we usually have with the specific food. Again, let’s take eggs as an example. The single egg or maybe two that you have doesn’t do the damage as much as that side helping of bacon, cheese, and sausages, not to mention the slices of bread generously coated with butter! So it is healthier to pay attention to the way the food is cooked and what other things you have with the specific food, than to exclude specific food items.
The way the food is cooked is just as much to blame for high cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Even foods innocent of any trace of cholesterol, can be transformed into real dangerous dishes. If the food is fried in oil or margarine then the goodness of the food is overpowered by the saturated fats present in the cooking medium. Red meats, poultry products, and dairy products contain high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. So it’s best to stay away from fried stuff and animal products.
Even if you only select those items that are low in bad cholesterol, you may still end up with choked arteries if you are not watchful about the saturated fats that you take in. This is because a high intake of saturated fats triggers a sharp increase of LDL levels as well as triglycerides.
There is no sense in banning specific food items from your diet. It makes more practical sense to maintain a moderate approach. Have everything, but in moderation. Keep a strict vigil on what you eat and how it is cooked. A fresh potato salad is good but French fries is not! Choose to grill your food rather than fry it. Have plenty of fresh vegetables. These very ordinary precautions will help to keep your heart beating perfectly for many, many years!