High Density Vs Low Density Lipoproteins: Dietary Management of hypercholestrolemia

For every 1 % drop in the LDL (low density lipoprotein or ‘bad’ cholesterol) level, there is a 2 % drop in the risk of developing a heart attack. Also, with a 1 % increase in the HDL (high density lipoprotein or ‘good’ cholesterol) level, there is a 3 % to 4 % diminution in the heart attack risk.

Understanding LDL and HDL

Cholesterol is a fatty substance in the body that serves several vital functions. Cholesterol is transported in the blood via lipoproteins. The major lipoproteins that transport cholesterol are HDL, LDL, and VLDL.

LDL and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) are responsible for transporting cholesterol from the liver to the body cells, and an elevation of these lipoproteins is associated with the development of atherosclerosis (plaque formation within the arteries, leading to arterial constriction), the principal cause of heart attack.

In contrast, HDL, returns cholesterol to the liver; and high levels of HDL, is protective against heart attack.

Clinical manifestations of hypercholesterolemia or elevated cholesterol
  • High levels of cholesterol could go undetected for long periods of time, since elevated blood cholesterol is usually without any symptoms.
  • However, hypercholesterolemia leads to atherosclerosis, which is associated with hypertension (high blood pressure), angina (chest pain), diabetes, and heart attack.
Causes of hypercholesterolemia
  • Hypercholesterolemia occurs usually due to increased manufacture of cholesterol within the liver.
  • There is a strong link to the dietary intake and lifestyle factors.
  • High intake of saturated fats is greatly associated with raised blood cholesterol
  • A sedentary lifestyle with zero exercise in another contributing factor.
  • There is also a strong genetic predisposition to the disorder.
Dietary management for elevated cholesterol levels
  1. Step up your consumption of dietary fibre: Fibre exerts a lot of beneficial effect, and helps manage hypercholesterolemia efficiently. Fibre helps lower cholesterol levels by binding to the bile acids and removing them from the body via feces. Excellent sources of fibre are – whole grains (oats, oat bran, rice bran, amaranth, and buckwheat), fruits and vegetables. Fruits exercise a powerful effect on the raised level of cholesterol, due to their strong anti-oxidant value and due to the presence of soluble fibre called pectin. Pectin helps lower cholesterol levels by decreasing the absorption and reducing the synthesis of cholesterol. 2 pieces of fruit per day, contains adequate pectin to reduce the risk of heart disease by 20 %.
  2. Specially designed nutribars that are high in protiens and fibers and low in carbohydrates are also beneficial in the management of elevated levels of cholestrol. Quest bar coupons are beneficial in the management of elevated cholestrol levels
  3. Kidney Beans
  4. Enhance the intake of legumes in the diet: Diets rich in legumes (pulses) are useful in bringing down cholesterol levels. Augment your consumption of peas, beans, (black beans, haricot beans, kidney beans, etc) peanuts, and soy. Studies have revealed that soy is able to reduce total cholesterol levels by 30 %, and LDL by 35 to 40 %.
  5. Eliminate greasy, fatty foods from the diet: Greasy foods, deep fried foods, and foods that are steeped in trans-fats (cookies, biscuits, pastries, etc) should be stayed away from, at all costs. They are linked to high levels of LDL and thickening of arterial walls. These foods are rich in cholesterol and are consequently bad for the heart. Keep the intake of saturated fats (butter, margarine, and clarified milk fat) low. Olive oil is recommended by cardiologists and nutritionists world over. Olives and olive oil contain potent anti-oxidants that protect against oxidative damage to the LDL cholesterol.