You've probably heard the buzz about good and bad cholesterol, and the negative effect that bad cholesterol can have on heart health. With some high cholesterol foods now being considered good while others are bad, trying to determine which high cholesterol foods are actually beneficial for your heart's health can be confusing!
Figuring out the Difference Between the Two
Scientifically, let's look at the difference in how your body processes good cholesterol versus bad cholesterol:
- Good cholesterol or HDL. This type of cholesterol does a sort of "recycling" process on excess cholesterol overall, taking the excess back to the liver for excretion. It can help to remove cholesterol attached to the arteries.
- Bad cholesterol or LDL. Your body deposits this type of cholesterol on the artery walls. Such deposits narrow the passages and eventually block the flow of blood to the vital organs of the body, including the heart. Foods containing saturated and trans fats are typically high in LDL.
Where to Find Good Cholesterol
Now that you know how they differ, it's time to take a look at which foods actually have good cholesterol so you can consume those and avoid the ones that don't. To make the process of identifying those foods easier, make note of the main components of good cholesterol:
- Monounsaturated fats or MUFAs. These fats form the main component of good cholesterol and are found mostly in fruit, nuts, and wheat products.
- Polyunsaturated fats or PUFAs. These fats are also significantly present in good cholesterol foods and are typically found in corn products, sunflower products, and fish oils. Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids are crucial to increasing your HDL to LDL ratio.
The following foods are excellent sources of MUFAs, PUFAs and omega-3 fatty acids, and are effective at providing the body with heart healthy cholesterol:
- Avocado. Avocado used to get a bad rap about being too rich in cholesterol. However, that was before people knew that it's actually a great source of HDL cholesterol that effectively combats bad cholesterol.
- Olive oil. Olive oil and oil from peanuts and canola also have great levels of heart healthy cholesterol. You can get wonderful results when you use them for cooking.
- Almonds. While other nuts also have some traces of good cholesterol, almonds perhaps have the most. Replacing unhealthy snacks, like chips, with a handful of unsalted, raw almonds can make a difference in your heart health.
- Shrimp. This is another food item that gets a bad rap, and although it has some amount of LDL, it has enough HDL to combat its negative effects due to the naturally occurring fish oils. Salmon and tuna are also great sea-dwelling sources of HDL.
- Eggs. Not only do eggs possess good cholesterol, but they also possess tons of other nutritious properties. This is definitely one of those foods to keep a stock of at home.
What Else Can Healthy High Cholesterol Foods Do For The Body?
You might be pleasantly surprised to know that the food items previously listed can also aid in helping you maintain:
- Peak mental performance
- Increased energy and stamina
- Excellent health
After reading this, you'll probably be relieved to know that not all of those high cholesterol foods you've been eating are actually bad for you! In fact, some of them, like the ones listed above, are extremely good for you - in moderation, of course.
But most importantly, they protect your heart from being exposed to heart disease by fighting the negative effects of bad cholesterol. Now that you know these facts, you can once again enjoy high cholesterol foods - as long as they contain the beneficial type of cholesterol (HDL).