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Cholesterol Awareness

According to studies, every fourth adult Pole has elevated levels of cholesterol in their blood, and 70% are at risk of atherosclerosis. In each of these individuals, there is a risk that atherosclerotic plaques may narrow the artery lumen, leading to angina, stroke, or heart attack.

Excessive cholesterol in the blood is not the sole causative factor of cardiovascular atherosclerosis, and the progression of the process is multifaceted and complex.

Nevertheless, it is essential to remember that the main factor contributing to elevated cholesterol levels is a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet, which unfortunately often finds its way to our tables.

Fats of animal origin are particularly harmful, as they supply both of these substances in large quantities and contain twice as many calories as an equivalent mass of protein or starch.

The most dangerous for health is cholesterol found in lipoproteins (fatty blood particles) labeled LDL, known as "bad" cholesterol.


Watch out for cholesterol

For research indicates that every fourth adult Pole has elevated cholesterol levels, and 70% are exposed to the risk of atherosclerosis. In each of these individuals, there is a possibility that atherosclerotic plaques may narrow the artery passage, leading to angina, stroke, or heart attack.

Excessive cholesterol in the blood is not the sole causative factor of cardiovascular atherosclerosis, and the progression of the process is multifaceted and complex.

Nevertheless, it is essential to remember that the main factor contributing to elevated cholesterol levels is a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet, which unfortunately often finds its way to our tables.

Fats of animal origin are particularly harmful, as they supply both of these substances in large quantities and contain twice as many calories as an equivalent mass of protein or starch.

The most dangerous for health is cholesterol found in lipoproteins (fatty blood particles) labeled LDL, known as "bad" cholesterol.

As its particles easily penetrate the arteries, where they accumulate on vessel walls and initiate the atherosclerosis process.

In the blood, there is also the so-called "good" cholesterol, labeled HDL, which protects the artery walls from atherosclerosis development.

Desirable values for cholesterol levels are as follows:

- Total cholesterol - CT <200mg% (5.2 mmol/l)

- "Bad" cholesterol - LDL <100 mg% (2.6 mmol/l)

- "Good" cholesterol - HDL >35 mg% ()

- Triglycerides <150mg% (1.7 mmol/l)


Every person who has reached the age of 20 should undergo a total cholesterol blood test (CT) every five years. Older individuals, especially those with diabetes, should undergo it more frequently.

Nutritionists believe that foods such as bacon, sausages, meat, especially pork products, lard, butter, high-fat cheeses, eggs, offal, canned meat, and mayonnaise increase cholesterol levels.

Particularly harmful are heavy sauces and soups typical of Polish cuisine, fried, baked, and reheated meals.

Cholesterol-Lowering Diet

A diabetic and anti-atherosclerotic diet (often overlapping) excludes "fast food" items such as hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, fries, baked goods, and pizzas.

The fundamental method for reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels is a rational diet and physical activity.

Anti-atherosclerotic medications are recommended only for those individuals for whom a lifestyle change did not provide relief.

Long-term studies have unequivocally shown that a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet, moderate physical activity, quitting smoking, stress elimination, and blood pressure control lead to a significant decrease in total cholesterol and LDL, ultimately improving the condition of coronary arteries.

For a long time, doctors have recommended adopting a diet based on the Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, plant fats, and fish.

The beneficial combination of fatty acids in olive oil acts against atherosclerosis.


Effects of Changes

The annual rate of heart attacks in Poland remains high, although it has significantly decreased in the last decade.

The most significant impact on this trend was the change in dietary habits.

The relative decrease in prices of plant-based products and the availability of southern fruits contributed to an increased consumption of these products.

It has also been shown that the prevalence of plant fats in the diet is a very effective way to protect against coronary heart disease, even in diabetics.

Despite these positive changes, premature deaths in young and middle-aged individuals are still high, emphasizing the importance of maintaining good cholesterol. Considered beneficial, HDL helps remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream, bringing it back to the liver where it can be broken down and eliminated from the body. Finding specific food products containing HDL can be challenging because HDL itself does not exist in food.

However, certain dietary and lifestyle factors can influence HDL levels. Here are some tips on how to improve good cholesterol levels:

- Products containing unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils (olive oil, rapeseed oil), nuts, seeds, avocados, may be beneficial for HDL levels.

- Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may positively impact the lipid profile, including HDL levels.

- Foods rich in fiber, especially soluble fiber, may be beneficial for cholesterol levels. Fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, and oats are good sources of fiber.

- Physical activity can raise HDL levels. Regular exercise, even in the form of walks, can be beneficial for heart health.

- Consuming alcohol in moderate amounts may raise HDL levels, but excessive alcohol intake is harmful to health.

It is also important to avoid consuming excessive amounts of saturated and trans fats, which can raise "bad cholesterol" (LDL) levels. Maintaining a balance between these different types of fats is crucial for a healthy lipid profile. Before making significant changes to your diet, it is always advisable to consult with a doctor or dietitian.



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