About 5 to 7 million years ago our ancestors had to face cholesterol deficiency problems. Back then they used to eat green vegetables for the most part, as well as fruits and nuts. Human body was able to adjust better because cholesterol was only introduced in small quantities. Since the difference between the modern man’s genome and that of his ancestor is merely 2 to 3%, not much has changed.
The downsides of today’s menu which has seen significant adjustments are large amounts of cholesterol (animal fat, dairy products, eggs, high-calorie foods), and lack of time for our bodies to keep up with such novelties. The consequences of such dietary changes are high blood cholesterol levels, as expected. Normalization of cholesterol can help prevent and cure heart diseases. Diet that consists of vegetables, fruits and nuts can in fact reduce cholesterol levels by a third, and achieve excellent results.
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance which we take in through our diet, but our own bodies can produce it as well. It’s a vital component for everyday functioning – a part of cell membranes, and also the main component of bile acid, hormones, and the precursor to vitamin D. Longterm cholesterol increase over a period of time carries with it a risk of cardiovascular diseases. We distinguish “bad” cholesterol (that is, low density lipoprotein) which shouldn’t exceed 175 mg/dl from the “good” cholesterol (high density lipoprotein) which shouldn’t exceed 35 mg/dl.
Exercise. Physical activity between 30 to 40 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day helps increase “good” cholesterol levels, and reduce the overall cholesterol levels thus preserving blood vessels from calcification.
Avoid animal fats and eggs. If you can’t help yourself, eat them on rare occasions. Use olive, dandelion, flaxseed or rapeseed oils. And above all, eat fish!
Foods that can help
∙ carrot, artichoke, black radish, corn, mushrooms, soy meat, soybean, poppy, spinach, cabbage (source of fibers)
∙ apple, orange, pomegranate, lemon (grapefruit), watermelon
(source of pectin and fibers)
whole flour, rye, bran – grain (sources of fibers)
peanut, almond, chestnut, coconut – (sources of fibers)
salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardine, herring – (omega-3 fatty acids)
ginger, curry, turmeric – (ginger oil)
Omega-3 fatty acids
These are essential fatty acids, that is, our bodies can’t produce it on their own which is why we have to introduce it into our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and are important for our cognitive development and behavior. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency are fatigue, difficulty concentrating, dry skin and heart problems. The components of the listed foods can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels, and a significant intake can even reduce heart diseases. Fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially saltwater fish.
Turmeric goes hand in hand with ginger, known in these parts as a natural medicine. Turmeric is the main ingredient of curry. It’s used to prolong the quality of your dish. Turmeric pigments not only have a specific color but also help reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Ginger is known for its root which contains numerous essential oils. There’s raw ginger, powdered ginger, candied or pickled, ginger syrup or tincture, found in healthy food stores. It’s been confirmed that ginger can prevent negative effects of “bad” cholesterol on cardiovascular walls. Moreover, it can get rid of blood clots.
These fibers have undertaken the role of a security officer, and they prohibit the entry of toxins from the bowels. Reducing cholesterol levels is achieved by increased bile acid secretion which leads to new bile acids where cholesterol comes into play. The sources of such fibers have been mentioned earlier.
Soy contains isoflavones, fibers, and phospholipids, and research has shown that these substances lead to significant increase of cholesterol levels up to 15-20%. That’s why soy is great for reducing cardiovascular diseases.
Translation: A. Slišković