Saturated fat and cholesterol have been demonized for many years, leading to the rise in low-fat diets that cut out egg yolks, meat, and healthy oils like coconut and olive oil. However, over the last several years there has been a resurgence in high-fat diets like keto, and many people have begun wondering if fat and cholesterol are really as bad as some experts had claimed them to be. There are many things that influence cholesterol levels in each person, and there are some steps you can take to help keep them balanced. Let’s discuss what you need to know about cholesterol and what you can do to help your levels stay balanced.
What Is It?
Cholesterol is a substance found in the body and some foods that is similar to fat. It is necessary for healthy brain and nerve function, and the production of vitamin D, hormones, and bile. The liver, brain, and intestines all produce most of the cholesterol you need, and cholesterol from your diet has been to shown to have little to no effect on total cholesterol levels in the blood. However, unhealthy fats like trans fats and vegetable oils, and a sedentary lifestyle have been linked to higher LDL or “bad” cholesterol. High LDL levels have been linked to inflammation, heart disease, arterial damage, and increased risk of stroke.
Cholesterol is necessary for many things in the body like hormone production and healthy digestion, so having a cholesterol level that is too low could potentially have negative effects on your health. Ideally you want a healthy ratio of HDL “good” to LDL “bad”, along with a healthy triglyceride level. Eating more healthy fats and greatly decreasing starchy, high-carb foods is a great start. Avoiding bad fats like vegetable oils (canola, vegetable, and corn) and trans fats which can be found in fried foods, margarine and shortening is also important. You can replace these fats with healthier ones like cold-pressed, unrefined olive oil and coconut oil.
There is also emerging research showing that exercise can help your body move LDL cholesterol to the liver where it can be converted into bile for digestion, which may decrease blood LDL levels, in addition to all the other benefits exercise can bring. There are also some supplements that can help support healthy cholesterol levels like Bergamot and Meta-Balance. Meta-Balance is a unique product because it contains a fiber that binds to fat so it can be excreted with minimal absorption. Supplementing with a fish oil like Omega Supreme is another good way to get in more healthy fats.
It can be hard to add more fat into your diet after hearing that it’s unhealthy for so many years, but healthy fats are essential to many functions in the body, and you shouldn’t be scared of them. So, look into the keto diet, or just work on adding in a little more healthy fat into your diet each day, and be more active throughout the week.