How Do Diet And Exercise Affect Cholesterol Levels?
The biggest influence on cholesterol levels is the fat content in our foods. Fats are made up of certain basic components called fatty acids. There are three types of fatty acids: saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
When dietary fats are dominated by saturated fatty acids, such as those found in beef, whole milk, and its derivatives, or sausage, they can lead to increased serum and LDL cholesterol.
On the other hand, polyunsaturated fatty acids – such as those found in seed oils and fish – reduce them. Monounsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in olive oil, have a similar effect to polyunsaturated fatty acids, plus they tend to increase HDL cholesterol, so the benefits of using them are even greater.
Dietary cholesterol content has less effect on changes in serum cholesterol than its fat mass composition. However, normal consumption of cholesterol-rich products can increase blood cholesterol levels.
HDL cholesterol levels can be reduced when more than 60% of dietary calories are consumed in the form of simple carbohydrates (sugars). Conversely, when dietary fat is replaced by complex carbohydrates (mainly found in vegetables, legumes, fruits, and bread), it causes beneficial effects on metabolism and lowers total and LDL cholesterol.
The fiber in foods such as vegetables, legumes, and fruits – called soluble fiber – also lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Foods rich in insoluble fiber, such as wheat bran, do not. Finally, moderate alcohol consumption, equivalent to two glasses of wine a day, can increase HDL cholesterol.
The general public is advised to adopt the traditional Spanish diet, also known as the “Mediterranean diet”. It is rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits, fish, and olive oil, with moderate consumption of wine and relatively low consumption of dairy products and simple sugars.
Therefore, in order to achieve or maintain ideal body weight, it is best to adopt a calorie-diverse diet. This diet includes regular consumption of rice, pasta, cereals, and bread, preferably whole grains in appropriate proportions; vegetables, legumes, and a variety of fruits; milk, yogurt, cheese, and low-fat or low-fat dairy products; and up to two or three whole eggs per week, but egg whites may be used without restriction. All kinds of fish, whether white or blue; shellfish are also unrestricted; shellfish can be eaten up to twice a week; chicken, turkey, and rabbit without skin; beef, beef, lamb, and pork are limited to three times a week; homemade cakes sweetened with honey, jam, and sugar, and nonfat milk.
Generally set sausage or poultry as a side dish, excluding the lean part of ham because of the high saturated fat; butter, bacon, butter, cookies, pastries, candy, industrial candy, whole milk, hard or high-fat cheese, solid or drinkable chocolate, potato chips, hookah, etc. Industrial fried foods made with coconut oil or palm oil are not recommended. Also, cream sauces, butter, margarine, and animal fats should not be used regularly.
Cooking can be done by boiling, baking, frying, scalding, grilling, or microwave oven. Frying should be done sparingly, preferably with olive oil. Excess fat should be removed from cooked foods or chilled to remove the solidified fat and separate it from the visible fat in meat products.
Stir-fries, vegetable soups, salad dressings, and “all-purpose oils” improve the palatability of foods without affecting the cholesterol changes.
People with pathologically high cholesterol levels, those who have had myocardial infarction or angina, and those at high risk for cardiovascular disease should follow a more restrictive diet. In these cases, cholesterol-lowering medications may be required.
Specific diets and medications to treat hyperlipidemia may be prescribed by your primary care physician or during a professional consultation at the referring hospital. Most hospitals have a lipid unit that provides special care for patients with altered cholesterol levels in the blood.