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Sugar and Cholesterol: A very Surprising Link

Often, when one thinks about cholesterol, what comes to mind is fat and sinfully delicious burgers coupled with fries from the popular fast food chains. Well, that’s a known fact. What most people do not know is that it is not just fat and fatty foods that affect the cholesterol levels. It could be a number of factors, including stress, lack of exercise, and sugars!

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Did you know that excessively eating foods rich in sugar can actually have a direct effect on your blood cholesterol levels? A high-sugar diet is not just linked to diabetes but has been proven to cause low levels of good cholesterol or high density lipoprotein (HDL). What does that mean? Because cholesterol levels are inversely proportional to each other, low levels of HDL mean high levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called “bad cholesterol”, and triglycerides.

Sources of Sugar

Not all sugars are bad. In fact, the body actually needs sugar to survive. Still, like every other thing on Earth, there is a limit to what the body actually needs. Simple sugars are highly discouraged because they break down too easily. That’s the reason why it is best to avoid processed foods and drinks.

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In the past, people had counted on fruits, real fruits to give the juice and food. These days, it is easy to simply pick a carton of juice off the grocery store shelf. How sure are you that those are healthy? Well, you simply have to learn to read the label. After all, food manufacturers are required to place all the ingredients they use on those tiny labels.

You might think that “evaporated cane juice” is innocent but that only translates to “sugar”! Check the label closely and look for items that end with “-ose” because those mean sugar. Yes! “Dextrose”, “fructose”, and “sucrose” are various types of sugar. Go through the items in the supermarket and you’ll surely find most of the processed food stuff containing these sugars. It can get confusing to distinguish which ones to buy. A great piece of advice would be to avoid them entirely, if possible. Stick to fresh fruits and vegetables as much as you can.

Just because they don’t appear in the labels, it doesn’t mean that fruits and vegetables don’t have sugar. On the contrary, sugar content makes these food items tasty. Still, the sugar levels are within a good range and aren’t broken down as fast as the simple sugars offered in the sugary processed foods, soft drinks, and high-energy drinks.

Knowing Your Limits

If sugar is needed by the body, how is too much? Based on extensive studies done by the American Heart Association (AHA), most men need around 150 calories a day while most women need around 100 calories a day. If that is translated to sugar, then men need 9 teaspoons while women need only 6.

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Now, check your diet. Any food with carbohydrates (including bread and rice) contains sugar. How many 12-ounce cans of regular soda do you drink daily? Each can has 8–10 teaspoons of sugar. Even 1 can of soda is more than enough to meet the daily limit. But you also eat other foods! Even without doing complex Math, you’ll see that indulging in soft drinks and sugary drinks pushes you well over what you need for the day.

It might be good to start counting your calories now – not just for avoiding obesity but also to keep your cholesterol levels in check.

High-Cholesterol Foods to Avoid

If you are striving for a healthier lifestyle, one of the best ways to start is to watch what you eat. Your efforts will surely pay off in the long run. You might not notice it at first but the changes will be pronounced after a longer period of time. Food items that have high cholesterol levels must be avoided at all cost. If that is really not possible, try to keep them at a minimum.

Yes, cholesterol does play a role in the body’s processes but like everything that comes in excess, it could harm the body. Best start with learning more about the foods that contain high levels of this compound.

Seafood

Seafood items are very delicious and often considered as healthy but did you know that many are full of cholesterol? Shellfish such as mussels, clams, and oysters are prepared in a variety of ways. Different species have different cholesterol content, with some offering as high as 105 mg (35% DV) per 100-g serving. Fried shellfish and chowders contain higher levels than those found in steamed and baked food. Thus, if you can’t resist the temptation to enjoy these tasty treats, try the latter options.

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Shrimp actually offers very high levels, with as much as 195 mg (65% DV) of cholesterol per 100 g! There are a lot of cuisine that feature shrimp across different cultures and countries. This seafood item is an easy favorite but if you are trying to stay healthy, limiting shrimp intake just might do the trick.

Exotic food items such as caviar are popular in parties and gourmet cuisine. Caviar is even used as spread in breads across Eastern and Northern Europe! Socialites and celebrity partygoers just might think twice before indulging in this popular treat if they knew that it contains 588 mg (196% DV) per 100-g serving!

Processed Foods

A wide range of processed meats are especially delicious and popular with the kids but such often contain a high level of LDLs. The actual content will depend on what part of the meat is added but these could have as high as 158 mg (50% DV) of cholesterol per 100 g.

Dairy products like cheese are often expected to have high cholesterol levels because of their association with their source: the cow. You’re not mistaken, that’s for sure. A tasty side dish and additive to a wide range of dishes, cheese could have up to 123 mg (41% DV) per 100 g.

Manufacturers often market oil-packed fish as good for the heart, with these products touted to offer high levels of Omega-3. Well, that may be true but you should also know that such foods also have high cholesterol levels – reaching as much as 142 mg (47% DV) of cholesterol per 100 g.

Other Food Items

It is common knowledge that fast-food items are bad for your health, offering high levels of fat and cholesterol. Various combinations of these food items are often the culprits for obesity across the world, especially because these are especially delicious and popular with diners. Remember, these mouthwatering foods can have as much as 261 mg (87% DV) per 100-g serving.

Butter is quite commonly used in baking and cooking dishes, adding a distinctively delicious taste to the finished product. Thankfully, only a small amount is often required per recipe. Still, the content of 215 mg (72% DV) per 100-g serving is quite high.

The liver has long been established as the primary source and manufacturer of cholesterol. It is, therefore, not surprising that foods that contain liver also have high levels of cholesterol. That’s a whooping 564 mg (188%) of cholesterol per 100-g serving!

We’re saving the best for last: the egg yolk! This seemingly innocent and simple food item tops all known lists with as much as 1234 mg (411% DV) per 100 g.

Don’t be deceived by the appearance of any food, let alone its taste. Very high cholesterol levels can hide in the simplest foods or may be absent in complex-looking items. Just like everything else in life, it is still best to research and learn about these foods especially when your health is at stake.

Low Fat, Low Cholesterol Food is the Key

The number of people who are suffering from heart disease as a result of high cholesterol levels is increasing. There are several factors to blame for the build-up of cholesterol inside our body, however the major factor is primarily an unhealthy diet. A high fat diet and bad eating habits can substantially increase the body’s blood cholesterol levels.

Our liver produces cholesterol and it is required by the body for fulfilling vital bodily functions: hormonal synthesis of testosterone and estrogen, cellular protection, fat digestion and vitamin synthesis. The human body requires a small amount of cholesterol to support its normal functions and a high fat diet can quickly increase cholesterol to accumulate in the arteries. Cholesterol can’t be dissolved by the body, and to make matters worse, it is also very difficult to eliminate. Excess cholesterol enters our bloodstream and is deposited into different places inside our body. Cholesterol forms plaque on the artery walls by adhering to the inner lining, causing blockage over time. If cholesterol builds up inside the heart arteries, then heart disease may develop.

A sensible healthy diet and regular exercise are essential in lowering blood cholesterol levels. It is quite important to choose and eat low fat products that are low in cholesterol, as foods high cholesterol can quickly increase blood cholesterol levels. It is recommended that you should eat only low cholesterol foods that contain unsaturated fat. Among the many foods that contain high levels of cholesterol are: eggs, meats, sweets and dairy products. Also, foods that are high in saturated fat can also stimulate the accumulation of cholesterol in our body: pork, organ meats, and poultry.

In an ideal diet, low cholesterol foods should replace foods containing high quantities of cholesterol and saturated fat. Sweets for example, contain simple carbohydrates which increases body fat deposits and accelerates the accumulation of body cholesterol. Consuming less than 300 mg of cholesterol a day is recommended.

Considering that a chicken egg contains around 300 mg of cholesterol, one would think that eating properly can be quite tricky. This is not really the case. The best thing to note is that only animal products contain cholesterol, while plant-based products are cholesterol free. Yes, fruits and vegetables may contain fat, however they actually don’t contain any cholesterol. Low cholesterol foods also have less saturated fat, and therefore are a lot healthier for the body.

Since it is very difficult to be on a diet based only on fruits and vegetables. It would be more manageable to diversify your diet. For example, you can consume low cholesterol foods such as lean meat, egg whites, chicken, and fish. Other low cholesterol foods are low-fat yogurt and skim milk. Avoid eating fried foods, since they are very unhealthy. Boil or bake low cholesterol foods and eat plenty of vegetable soups.

Home-cooked meals should be preferred over restaurant foods. However, if you don’t have time to cook for yourself regularly, there are many low cholesterol food products available in market. Also, it is equally important to understand that processed, low cholesterol foods available in convenience-stores may actually contain high quantities of saturated fat and aren’t a healthy option. Although you may eat these food products every now and then, your diet should be mainly on healthy, cholesterol free or low cholesterol foods.

Lower LDL Cholesterol with the Mediterranean Diet

Is it possible to lower LDL cholesterol without decreasing HDL cholesterol?

Absolutely.

But it’s not as basic as consuming a lesser amount of fat, which has a tendency to reduce both LDL cholesterol, the unhealthy type of cholesterol that leads to heart disease, and HDL cholesterol, the good variety.

Because the proportion of LDL to HDL is a significantly much better way of predicting coronary heart disease risk compared to either alone, if they both drop — or increase — your risk may possibly not change significantly. Changing the kind of fat in your current diet from saturated and trans fat to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat may have simply the impact you are hoping for.

Avocados, olives, seeds, nuts, olive and canola oil are very good sources of healthy fats which increase HDL cholesterol while decreasing LDL cholesterol. Flaxseeds, walnuts and fatty varieties of fish can supply omega-3 fatty acids, that help boost HDL cholesterol. Exercising will likewise help improve HDL cholesterol levels. So will losing excess weight and consuming less sugars and refined starches such as white bread.

Lastly, soluble fiber in beans, barley, oats, lentils, and fresh fruits can help lower LDL cholesterol, while antioxidants in fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as in tea, red wine, and dark chocolate, help raise HDL cholesterol.

Put this all together, and you are basically looking at the Mediterranean diet, a strategy to eating that in research has proven to be an exceptional formula for bringing down LDL cholesterol, boosting HDL cholesterol, and decreasing cardiovascular disease risk. Because Mediterranean countries understand a thing or two with regards to wonderful cuisine, for many of us this is a chance to indulge in food we enjoy — and that loves us back in return.

If diet does not get the job done, you can look at prescription medicines like statins or ezetimibe, which can be especially developed to boost the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol.

Cholesterol : How to Lower Your Risk

Modern diets are full of fat and calories. Popular foods that people love often contribute to their ill health. As a result of today’s diets, many people today have high levels of cholesterol. When they want to know how to lower cholesterol, their doctors may recommend several options. People may find that lowering their cholesterol levels is not difficult.

Most doctors first advise that patients reduce the amount of fat and calories they take in each day. While fatty foods tend to be flavorful, they also have ill effects on people’s bodies. As such, doctors may urge patients to eat foods that are low fat and low calorie.

People may also be encouraged to add certain elements to their diets. Many individuals do not eat enough leafy green vegetables. These vegetables are known to have natural anti-oxidant properties that help people’s hearts and blood flow. Thus, physicians might recommend that individuals eat more kale, broccoli, spinach, and other vegetables.

Many physicians also recommend to people who diet to drink more water. Water can assist in flushing fatty buildup from people’s bodies. Some individuals fail to drink enough water. Thus, their primary care providers might urge these patients to take in more water each day.

Another step people might take would be to add more exercise to their daily routines. Many health experts report that exercise can be a good way to reduce detrimental elements from their bodies, particularly cholesterol.  Exercise also helps dieters maintain healthy weights and body sizes. A person at risk for heart attack and stroke might exercise more.

Someone who wants to know how to lower cholesterol might consider several medical and dietary suggestions. These steps can help this individual avoid heart attacks and strokes. These suggestions could include eating more green vegetables to exercising more. Avoiding high calorie and fatty foods that are popular in today’s diets also can be helpful.

Cholesterol Levels: How Low Is Too Low

Over the years there has been a lot of confusion about cholesterol levels in the body. An answer to the question on how low is too low cholesterol level is one that baffles many. This explains why there has been much less agreement on how to deal with or respond to low levels of the cholesterol in the body.

It is worth noting that cholesterol levels generally lie between 140 and 200 milligrams per deciliter in adults. Figures below the range generally indicate that the cholesterol levels are lower than normal. This could have a negative effect on some parts of the body such as the brain, digestive system and the liver.

In fact, cholesterol has a huge role to play in the brain. This implies that when cholesterol levels are very low, brain function is likely to be affected by limiting the action of serotonin. This is a chemical messenger that is responsible for transmitting signals between brain cells. A common reason why it is common with people who have depression or anxiety.

Research has also established that having very low cholesterol levels for extensive periods of time could increase the odds of a hemorrhagic stroke. This is characterized by ruptured blood vessels that bleed into the brain. It mainly occurs because blood with low levels of cholesterol does not easily clot.

A general observation has been that low levels could cause harm while at the same time it could be caused by an existing disease. This is mostly the case in other health conditions linked with extremely low cholesterol levels. Alcoholism and cancer are also known to be a cause of the condition.

Given the points mentioned above, it is quite clear how low is too low cholesterol. In order to be on the safe side, you need to exercise regularly and have a healthy diet. After all, cholesterol is an essential component of each and every cell in the body.