Cholesterol is something of a buzzword these days, with products on the market claiming to lower it, health experts advising of its dangers, and a host of food substitutes available to ensure you’re not getting too much, but (if you’re being honest), do you know what cholesterol is? Produced by our livers, and found in some of the foods we eat, cholesterol is a fatty substance that our bodies need in order to function properly. It operates within our nervous system and assists in the creation and maintenance of membranes. However, as with most things in life, too much cholesterol, particularly the ‘bad’ kind can be bad for us. So, what can you do about it?
Consuming cholesterol: Foods to avoid
There are two kinds of cholesterol; high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which assist in the removal of waste products and are considered to be ‘good’ cholesterol, and low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or ‘bad’ cholesterol, which can clog our arteries if there is too much for our bodies to use up. Too much LDL in our blood can lead to heart attacks, strokes, arterial damage and disease, and an increased risk or blood clots and heart disease, as well as issues that are associated with obesity, another common side effect of not watching what you eat. In short, it’s bad news. Cholesterol can be measured by a simple blood test, and it’s essential to make sure that your levels aren’t too high.
While the idea of consuming less cholesterol may seem onerous, it simply involves a change of lifestyle and a few dietary tweaks. Cutting out smoking, reducing your alcohol intake and being mindful of your family’s health history are important factors, as is changing your diet if you’re diagnosed as having high cholesterol levels. There are multiple, natural ways to do this. Since cholesterol is rampant in foods that are high in saturated fats, seek out low-fat alternatives, such as oats and oat-based items, salmon and other oily fish, nuts, beans, garlic, spinach and avocado, as well as cooking with olive oil rather than vegetable oil, and drinking tea, red wine, and eating dark chocolate – yes, really! All in sensible amounts of course. Think about limiting your intake of red meats and choose protein rich plant-based foods instead. With a little careful planning you’ll notice that your diet becomes rich, fulfilling, and exciting, as well as healthier.
The growth of dairy free foods in the search for lower cholesterol
If you’ve cut out red meat, endeavored to eat more fruit and vegetables, and changed your attitude to food, but are still concerned about cholesterol, it may be time to think about a dairy free diet; there are numerous products, programs, and diet plans relating to the benefits of going dairy free, and you may well find such a move lowers your cholesterol and helps you to feel better. Did you know, for example, that humans don’t actually need the nutrition that comes from processed cow’s milk? While cheese, yogurt, and milk itself are rich in calcium there are plenty of plant-based products that offer the same kinds of benefits, without the increased cholesterol that such dairy products contain. Hampton Creek, which was established in 2011, is one such company offering a revolutionary new way of eating, with a range of products that aim to cut out harmful additives and introduce much healthier alternatives. The team at Hampton Creek has worked with farmers, national retailers, and researchers to identify the very best ingredients, and their determination to make food better should inspire you; if your current diet is bringing you down, there are so many alternatives.
While a little cholesterol is essential for our bodies, too much is incredibly risky to our health. Awareness of its risks is just one of the steps essential for a better, healthier lifestyle, while altering your diet to include more fresh fruit and vegetables is another. Your new diet needn’t be difficult, or even revolutionary, in order to succeed. Consider foods that provide the same levels of nutrients as your current diet, such as calcium, and opt instead for a low-fat alternative. It’s a lot easier to be dairy free than you may think, and your lifestyle will be so much better for it.