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Just the mention of ‘cholesterol’, is enough to ring the alarm bells. Often, we associate cholesterol with something ‘bad’, however, there is also a ‘good’ kind of cholesterol that the body requires to maintain overall health.
Good cholesterol plays a vital role in many key bodily functions, especially when it comes to the health of the heart. Luckily for us, good cholesterol can be found naturally in various food sources and can help boost your health and wellbeing.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the good cholesterol, whereas low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the bad cholesterol.
HDL helps to remove extra cholesterol and plaque buildup in the arteries. It facilitates the transfer of this buildup to the liver, which in turn, removes it from the body. This critical function reduces the risk of heart diseases and associated ailments.
HDL levels should ideally be around 60 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) or above, and should not dip below 40 mg/dL.
Besides medical factors such as obesity, diabetes, and smoking, diet also plays a major role in determining HDL levels.
Start incorporating these HDL friendly foods in your diet to improve your health:
1. Legumes and whole grains
Legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas and soybeans contain high quantities of iron. Kaempferol is the antioxidant found in legumes and has been shown to provide health benefits such as reduced chronic inflammation. They are also a good source of folate, magnesium, and potassium and can help reduce the risk of heart diseases and lower blood levels of damaging LDL cholesterol and increase HDL levels.
2. Nuts and seeds
Nuts such as walnuts, almonds and cashews are a good source of folic acid. They also contain magnesium, iron and monounsaturated fats, which improve blood sugar levels and boost energy levels. Seeds such as flax, pumpkin and chia contain adequate amounts of iron. Moreover, these seeds are also a rich source of magnesium, fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. This solid nutrition profile helps ward off heart ailments and improve the HDL levels. Also, nuts and seeds are also equipped to protect your cells from harmful free radicals produced during metabolic processes.
Avocados fight inflammation, improve HDL cholesterol levels and are a great source of magnesium. This fruit also contains potassium, vitamin B & K and are an excellent source of fibre, thereby helping you to stay full for longer durations of time. They have high folate and monounsaturated fat content, which lowers LDL levels and reduces the risk of heart ailments.
So, try these foods, to improve the HDL levels, and lead a healthier life!