Plant-based diet to increase good cholesterol

How to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol with the suitable food?

Good cholesterol or HDL cholesterol is a component of the blood that has health benefits.

What is good cholesterol?

HoneyDue to its composition rich in phospholipids, good cholesterol attracts the fat and cholesterol particles that are deposited in the arteries and, in this way, the good HDL cholesterol prevents atheroma plaque, which causes diseases such as poor circulation or arteriosclerosis, characterized by an accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries.

Dangers of low good cholesterol

High cholesterol is a silent disease, which deteriorates the arteries without producing symptoms, until it produces diseases such as hypertension and poor circulation, which ends up clogging them causing cardiovascular diseases.

The recommended levels of good HDL cholesterol are between 40 – 60mg / dl. High levels are healthier and do not pose a health risk.

Eat foods rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fats

Omega 3 and omega 6 oils are a type of essential fat for heart health. These fats are important because, from them, the liver produces prostaglandins, which are substances with vasodilatory, anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic properties. These improve circulation and help increase the good cholesterol or HDL cholesterol of the blood.

Foods rich in omega 3 are walnuts, flaxseeds, quinoa, chia and hemp seeds. Non-vegetarians can also get this type of fat from small fatty fish (sardines, mackerel, etc.).

How to take omega 3?

walnuts
Photo of walnuts, rich in omega 3 and omega 6, which helps increase good cholesterol and protects against cardiovascular diseases

The recommended daily amount would be 2 teaspoons of ground hemp, flaxseeds and/or chia seeds, a daily serving of walnuts (about 7 units), or eat fatty fish at least 2 times a week.

Foods that increase HDL cholesterol

Some practical tips to increase this type of omega fats are:

  • It is recommended to increase the consumption of legumes, at least three times a week, but they can be eaten daily or almost every day. These vegetables are high in lecithin and omega, in addition to many other benefits that they provide: lentils, chickpeas, peas, beans, hummus, etc. Quinoa is also rich in fiber and omega 3.
  • Eat plenty of greens and vegetables in your diet. Within the vegetable option, choose those that have more color and flavor. For example, an arugula is much better than an iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is practically only water and fiber, while arugula also has many beta-carotenes, chlorophyll, and provides glucosinolates (spicy flavor), with antioxidant properties. So: + color + flavor = + healthy. Some recommended: broccoli, radishes, cauliflower, purslane, spinach, carrots, vegetable cream, etc.
  • Consume nuts (without frying and without salt), such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts. These foods, along with fruits, are the ideal snack for cholesterol.
  • Take all whole grains: whole grains are healthier: millet, brown rice, oats, …
  • Use quality vegetable oils, that is, cold pressed (virgin). Virgin olive oil is the best for cooking and dressing (see substitutes for olive oil).

Modifications and foods to avoid in the diet

There are a series of tips on foods that are better not to consume or moderate in the diet to increase good cholesterol:

  • vegetable creams
    Vegetable creams are highly recommended

    Reduce bread and pasta: they are refined foods (flour) that should be eaten in moderation. A legume dish is preferable to a pasta dish, since the sugar control is better and also the legume is more nutritious.

  • Do not use refined oils and avoid fried ones.
  • Avoid sugary dairy products: you can eat bifidus yogurt, natural yogurt or cheeses, but it is not recommended to consume sugary desserts such as custard, flavored yogurts, chocolate milk, etc.
  • Avoid eating cookies or light products. Cookies, even whole grains, are no better than a natural (“really whole”) food. It is better to eat fruits, nuts, …)
  • Reduce the oil: although virgin olive oil is very healthy, an excessive dressing (“bathing salads in oil”) can have more harm than good. Oil is liquid gold for health, but it also contains a lot of fat. If you eat a lot of oil, it is better to reduce it to help decongest the liver. Using less oil is the easiest way to cut many calories in your diet, but only when consumed in excess.
oil
Cutting down on oil removes a lot of calories from the diet

Supplements to increase HDL cholesterol

It is very suitable to increase good cholesterol to get used to introducing a whole series of seasonings into the diet, generally based on seeds, which help to

flaxseeds
Ground flaxseeds are rich in fiber and omega 3. They help reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.

enrich the diet and lower bad cholesterol:

  • Add sunflower, pumpkin, chia, sesame, or flaxseeds in salads, soups, yogurts, … in any dish.
  • Add avocado to salads, dressed with squeezed lemon.
  • Seasoning the dishes with carob flour (rich in soluble fiber), cinnamon powder, or turmeric (with a pinch of black pepper) is very interesting. Use regularly in recipes.
  • Aromatic herbs: although they do not appear in any nutritional guide, they are a fundamental pillar of the diet. It is recommended to regularly use a little rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, basil, oregano, aromatic herbs… at each meal.
  • Take 1 teaspoon of cold pressed wheat germ oil every day, because this oil, in addition to containing omega 3 and 6, is very rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant from body fats
  • To a lesser degree, the use of omega 3 foods such as omega 3 eggs or omega 3 milk may be recommended. Organic meat is richer in omega 3.

Remedies that are not recommended for cholesterol

  • It is not recommended to use linseed oil or walnut oil, because, although they contain a lot of omega 3, it is easily oxidized. It’s best to get your omega 3 from whole foods (more information).
  • Omega 3 supplements are not recommended because they do not provide as many benefits as the foods mentioned above.

Antioxidants for good cholesterol

Antioxidants help reduce bad cholesterol, protect against the formation of atheroma plaque (arteriosclerosis) and extend the life of good HDL cholesterol.

The antioxidant components of our diet are some vitamins, such as vitamin C, and also flavonoids, such as beta-carotene or lycopene, which are found in abundance in fruits and vegetables.

These plant foods also provide all the benefits of fiber, which cleanses the intestine, prevents constipation (and hemorrhoids, diverticula, certain types of cancer, etc.) and helps to capture bad cholesterol from the bile to eliminate it through the stool.

It is recommended to take at least 5 vegetables + fruits a day. For example, 3 servings of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit.

What foods are better to increase cholesterol?

lemon
Squeezing lemon into drinking water will help us ingest more antioxidants

Some vegetables rich in fiber and antioxidants are: artichokes, spinach, chard, aubergines, turnips, cauliflower, okras, green asparagus, etc. It is recommended to take whole grains.

Vegetables and fruits rich in antioxidants are: peppers (they contain more vitamin C than any citrus), carrots, oranges, tangerines, lemons (to dress salads, for example), radishes, pumpkins, mango, papaya, peaches, loquats, pineapple, etc.

Lifestyle and dietary habits

An active lifestyle increases the body’s metabolic pathways and promotes the formation of good cholesterol.

People who do not exercise have low levels of good cholesterol. It is recommended to walk at least 1 hour a day.

  • Reduce stress: Stress may influence the levels of bad cholesterol in the body.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are associated with increased bad cholesterol and decreased good cholesterol. Furthermore tobacco increases the aggressiveness of bad cholesterol, leading to atherosclerosis.
  • Sleep long enough: it is important to avoid insomnia and respect the body’s hours of sleep, which are at night. Following the body’s natural rhythms (circadian rhythm) helps improve health.

Foods totally discouraged to lower bad cholesterol:

Hydrogenated or trans fats: They are a type of fats that are obtained by heating vegetable oils in excess, and have a high cardiovascular risk. Scientific studies have shown that these types of fats not only increase bad cholesterol, but also lower good cholesterol.

Mainly we find them in some margarines, industrial pastries, in some microwave popcorn, French fries, bag chips, salty snacks, sweets and some chocolates. Check the labels and make sure they don’t contain trans or hydrogenated fats.

Supplements to increase good cholesterol

  • Soy lecithin: Contains phospholipids, the main component of good cholesterol. People who need to increase this type of cholesterol can take 1 teaspoon of soy lecithin after meals, for example, along with yogurt or simply with a glass of water.

This supplement has no contraindications, since lecithins are found naturally in food. Soy lecithin will also help improve memory, is rich in vitamin E for the skin and prevents the formation of gallstones.

  • Plants for the liver: They can help increase good cholesterol by improving the state of the liver, which is the organ in charge of metabolizing cholesterol. Some of these plants are turmeric and milk thistle, among others.

punto rojoMore information on cholesterol remedies and diet for cholesterols.

Editorial
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

14 July, 2021

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