As a basic ingredient in hormone formation, cholesterol is needed to carry out bodily functions. However, the difference in density in cholesterol causes cholesterol to trigger fat buildup in blood vessels. Good cholesterol or known as High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) is a type of cholesterol that is useful in preventing atherosclerosis and maintaining overall heart health. HDL levels in a person can change at any time and even tend to decrease, one of which affects it is the diet.
Relationship between HDL and overall cholesterol level
Total cholesterol levels consist of HDL, LDL (Low-density lipoprotein), and VLDL (Very-low-density lipoprotein). HDL only covers 20-30% of total cholesterol, while the combination of LDL and VLDL, which is classified as bad cholesterol, has a proportion of 70-80% of total cholesterol. The total cholesterol limit is generally around 200mg /dL and if it reaches or exceeds 240mg /dL it is considered risky.
Increased total cholesterol levels are generally caused by an increase in LDL and a decrease in HDL. Thus, cholesterol in the body has a lower density or density. HDL itself functions to prevent accumulation of fat in blood vessels. If the HDL level is high, the accumulation of fat in the blood vessels is more likely to occur when cholesterol is distributed in the blood.
In men and women, there are differences in HDL levels in which women generally have higher HDL levels. HDL levels that are at risk in men are if it is less than 40 mg /dL while in women it is around 50 mg /dL. The higher the HDL level, the lower the risk of blood vessel damage.
What we eat can affect good cholesterol levels?
HDL is basically a fat protein produced by the liver and intestinal wall. What we eat will determine 20% of the total cholesterol produced by the body. In addition, the type of nutrients absorbed by the intestine will determine which type of fat protein is produced (HDL or LDL). HDL is usually obtained from various complex carbohydrates and fats in fruits and vegetables, but some types of fat in animals are also needed to increase HDL levels.
HDL levels can also decrease if someone is taking drugs containing testosterone and anabolic steroids. Therefore, avoiding the use of these drugs or by increasing consumption of fiber and fat from plants can minimize HDL deficiencies.
Source of good cholesterol from food
Some processed foods that have high levels of fat and carbohydrates can increase LDL and reduce HDL levels. But some foods have good fiber and fat to increase HDL and prevent fat buildup in blood vessels.
- Eggs - Despite being famous for its high cholesterol reputation, eggs have good fats to help the body produce HDL. This is evident in a study that showed one egg per day for 12 weeks can increase HDL levels by about 20 mg /dL. Eggs are basically safe for consumption but the effects of these studies are only observed in healthy people.
- Seed and pod plants - such as black beans, kidney beans, lentils and navy beans are rich in soluble fats and contain folic acid which is good for heart blood vessels. This type of food can also be processed in various ways without losing significant nutrients.
- Whole wheat - just like grain-based foods, whole wheat is a type of food that is rich in soluble fats and can be easily found on whole wheat bread.
- Fatty fish - are marine fish that have a dense texture of meat and are rich in omega-3s, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. Omega-3 is a very good component to produce LDL with consumption of 2 fish per week. If you have limited allergies, omega-3 supplements can also help to meet these nutritional needs.
- Chia seeds and flaxseed - are both alternative choices in the vegetarian diet to help suffice omega-3. Consumption of chia seeds can be used as an addition in cooking, but flaxseed should be consumed as a whole so that when it gets to the intestine, omega-3 nutrients can be absorbed perfectly.
- Nuts - like peanuts, Brazil nuts and almonds contain good fat and fiber to produce HDL. Nuts generally also contain plant sterols which can limit the absorption of excess cholesterol. Beans can be consumed as snacks but pay attention to your calorie intake.
- Soybean - does not have a specific content to increase HDL levels directly, but is a good alternative to meat substitutes because it is rich in vegetable protein.
- Fruits rich in fiber - like prunes, apples and pears have specific fibers that can increase HDL levels and reduce LDL.
- Importance of antioxidant sources - such as avocados, oranges, berries, black chocolate and vegetables such as kale, beets and spinach. Antioxidants are compounds found in many foods and can increase HDL levels. A study showed that HDL levels increased with the consumption of antioxidants around 0.65% of normal levels.
- Olive oil - even though it is not a food source that is eaten directly but the use of olive oil can increase HDL levels because it can contain good fat. Olive oil can be used for frying or cooking with temperatures that are not too hot. Olive oil can also be used for salads and additions to stir-fry and soup.