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Heart-healthy nutrition: focus on foods with low cholesterol
Recommendations for a heart-healthy diet should focus on foods that are naturally low in cholesterol. This emerges from a new report published by the American Heart Association.
By eating foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein as well as by avoiding salt, processed meat and added sugars, the "bad" LDL cholesterol can be reduced to a minimum.
Replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats
The report, published by the American Heart Association in its Circulation magazine, states that people should avoid saturated fats and instead consume polyunsaturated fats found in foods like fish and certain types of nuts.
"Saturated fats - mostly contained in animal products such as meat and whole milk products as well as in tropical oils - should be replaced by polyunsaturated fats such as in rapeseed or soybean oil," said Jo Ann Carson in a press release.
“Foods with a high level of sugar and sodium (salt) should be limited,” said the scientist who co-published the report.
Eating processed or red meat can be dangerous
The opinion included an analysis of various nutritional studies that found a link between cholesterol in food and a higher level of harmful cholesterol in the blood.
The researchers did not measure the HDL cholesterol - the "good" cholesterol - in the participants' blood, which could have influenced the results.
Cholesterol in the blood is produced in the liver and used to build cells. However, foods high in saturated fat, such as high-fat dairy products and processed or red meat, cause excessive cholesterol in the blood.
This can lead to the formation of hard deposits in the arteries, which can block blood flow and cause heart disease and strokes.
Recommended Mediterranean food
"Considering the relationship between dietary cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease cannot neglect two aspects of nutrition," said Carson, retired professor of clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
“First, most foods that add cholesterol to the US diet are usually high in saturated fat, which is strongly related to an increased risk of getting too much LDL cholesterol,” said the expert.
"Second, we know from a variety of scientific studies that healthy eating habits such as Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) are inherently low in cholesterol," she said.
Cholesterol-rich foods are also acceptable in small quantities
According to the report, certain amounts of cholesterol-rich foods are safe to consume. For example, the intake of eggs in the studies examined was not significantly associated with a risk of cardiovascular diseases.
It is acceptable to eat a whole egg or equivalent, such as three ounces (about 85 grams) of shrimp, a day. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- American Heart Association: Diets low in cholesterol can help reduce heart disease, stroke risk, (accessed: December 18, 2019), American Heart Association
- Circulation: Dietary Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Risk: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association, (accessed: December 18, 2019), Circulation