Welcome to the Healthy Way Diet Program! Our focus is providing nutritionally sound and medically researched information and advice to help you live healthier, happier lives.
Uncovering the Facts behind Saturated Fats and Cholesterol
Scores of medical studies have made the link between dietary saturated fat and cholesterol intake and heart disease, cancer, and a host of other illnesses. There are a number of websites, however, that will tell you how important cholesterol and saturated fat are for certain body functions and may try to convince you that reducing or eliminating these substances from your diet is all hype.
While it is true that the human body does need some amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, it is not necessary that we make a point to include foods high in cholesterol or saturated fat in our diet. Our body is able to make these substances out of the healthy foods we eat in a more than adequate supply for all its needs. As a matter of fact, many heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as those found in nuts, avocados, and olives also contain small amounts of saturated fat. And you’ll also ingest saturated fat and cholesterol if you include lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products in your diet.
These healthier choices will provide you with more than enough saturated fat to meet the requirements of your body and your body makes all the cholesterol it need from saturated fat so it is not necessary to specifically include foods high in either of these substances to your diet. The Healthy Way Diet contains information on a wide variety of heart-healthy fats and oils.
The fats that you should really work to eliminate from your diet are hydrogenated fats and trans-fats. There is nothing beneficial about these fats and they have been proven to contribute to all sorts of medical issues and diseases. Trans-fats raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol, so they are doubly destructive. These fats are chemically processed by adding hydrogen atoms to vegetable oil so that fat is more solid at room temperature. Most packaged foods such as cookies, cakes, donuts, and crackers contain hydrogenated fats, and they are often used in fast food cooking. Check the label on every packaged and processed food you buy to avoid products with these fats and limit your consumption of fast foods.
LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol verses HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol
LDL cholesterol causes plaque formation which narrows arteries and results in a condition called atherosclerosis. Clot formation and the subsequent blockage of arteries can result in heart attacks and strokes.
HDL cholesterol plays an important role in removing excess cholesterol from the arteries. It also directs cholesterol to the liver from the arteries where it is eliminated from the body. High levels of HDL seem to protect again heart disease, while low HDL levels increase the risk.
Dietary cholesterol is only found in animal products such as meat, eggs, shellfish, and dairy foods, but the body also manufactures cholesterol from the fat you get in your diet.
For optimal health, it is advisable to lower LDL cholesterol levels and raise HDL levels. This can often be accomplished through diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. In addition to aiding in weight loss and improving overall health, regular exercise has been found to help raise HDL cholesterol levels. Saturated fat and trans-fatty acids have both been found to raise bad cholesterol, which is one of the many reasons why these fats should be carefully monitored in the diet. Foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to raise levels of good cholesterol as well as lowering levels of bad cholesterol. These unsaturated fats are found in almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, olives, fish, avocados, and soybeans.
A healthy, balanced diet will probably include foods that contain small amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol. Focus on the heart-healthy fats and your body will manufacture any saturated fat and cholesterol as needed.
Some people have a hereditary tendency toward high-cholesterol and these dieters may need to restrict their saturated fat and cholesterol intake more than the average person, and should make it a point to get regular exercise and also to avoid smoking in an effort to help maintain a normal cholesterol level. It is advisable to have your cholesterol level checked by a medical professional regularly.