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Good cholesterol

The term “cholesterol” can be quite confusing for many people, as they are still not sure if it is good for them or bad for them. Phrases like “bad cholesterol” and “good cholesterol” do not really help to alleviate the confusion. Most people think that they are absolutely fit and are not at a risk for heart diseases, because they are young and their total cholesterol is within normal limits. However, if their good cholesterol levels are lower than what they should be, they are still at a high risk for heart attacks.

Cholesterol refers to a fat-like substance that is produced by the body, mainly in the liver, which is an essential part of all the cells in the body.
Cholesterol can be of eighteen types, but they have been divided into two categories, in order to avoid any confusion. There is LDL cholesterol, which is usually regarded as the “bad cholesterol” because it has been known to cause problems and diseases that are related to the heart. These problems mainly occur when excessive amounts of LDL in the blood lead to a buildup of bad cholesterol in the arteries, which leads to blockages. There is also something known as HDL or “good cholesterol”, mainly because it protects the heart from diseases. As opposed to bad cholesterol, HDL is the extra cholesterol from the tissues, which gets carried from a person’s arteries to his liver, where it is gotten rid of, by the body. Since this type of cholesterol can be eliminated from the body quite easily, it is not harmful and that is why, it is known as good cholesterol.

The consumption of certain foods can help you to increase good cholesterol levels in your body. A good cholesterol diet consists primarily of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Given below are some common good cholesterol foods that can lead to a healthier life:

•    Make sure that you eat foods that are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids. This includes foods like dark green vegetables, fish, safflower oil, sunflower oil, canola oil as well as cold pressed flaxseed oil. The consumption of such foods should be increased.
•    Eat a lot of soy bean or other soy- based products, like tofu, soy nuts, soymilk, tempeh or TVP (textured vegetable protein), as they a often regarded as good cholesterol sources.
•    Increase your intake of onions, to increase your good cholesterol levels. Eat about half a raw onion on a daily basis, for this purpose.
•    Reduce your consumption of foods that are high in fat, and cholesterol, by eliminating items like butter, salad dressing, desserts and sweets to lower the levels of LDL bad cholesterol, in your system.
•    Limit your consumption of foods that are high in cholesterol and instead, increase your energy by eating foods that are high in fiber or complex carbohydrates, like wholegrain bread, brown rice or wild rice and whole wheat pasta.
•    Eat regular meals throughout the day, to boost your body’s metabolism. Skipping meals is not just unhealthy; it can also eventually lead to overeating. Breakfast is the most important meal and should never be missed. Eating breakfast in the morning can kick start your metabolism early in the day and help to speed up the metabolic processes within your body. Some of the best breakfast options are low fat yogurt with fresh fruits, whole grain bread with low fat cheese, oatmeal or bran with skim milk.

Apart from ensuring that you consume adequate good cholesterol sources, it is important to make sure that you get the right amount of exercise and drink a lot of water everyday. Before making any type of food a regular part of your daily diet, it is important to consult your doctor.

Submitted on January 16, 2014