Cholesterol and the Mediterranean diet: what you can indulge in

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Robert Maurer
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Cholesterol is a molecule that represents an important parameter for health, the monitoring of its concentration allows to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis.

Cholesterol is essential for our body, it is the fundamental constituent of cell membranes, myelin sheaths, nerve fibers and the precursor of some hormones.

The cholesterol values ​​in our blood represent one of the essential parameters for verifying the state of health of the individual starting from a young age, becoming a key value in adulthood.
 



What does the value of cholesterol in the blood depend on?

La amount of cholesterol in the blood it is given by the sum of endogenous and exogenous cholesterol. 

  1. Il endogenous cholesterol it is produced by our body, to be precise by the liver, and represents between 70% and 80% of total cholesterol.
  2. Il exogenous cholesterol instead it depends on what we eat with the diet, it is assimilated above all through some foods and represents 20-30% of the total, a certainly lower percentage but not to be underestimated.


The value of total cholesterol is closely related to its fractions, that is to the two lipoproteins that act as transporters of cholesterol in the blood:


  • LDL (Low density lipoprotein - low density fat) also called bad cholesterol 
  • HDL (high density lipoprotein - high density fat) also called good cholesterol

The values ​​considered normal for the concentration of total cholesterol are those entro i 200 mg/dl but they are also tolerable up to a maximum value of 240 mg / dl before acting pharmacologically.  
 


Cholesterol and the Mediterranean diet

"Cholesterol"Is a term in common use that is part of our daily life and is often associated with the concept of a controlled diet and the negative feeling related to it.

To keep the values ​​under control, both preventively and therapeutically, often we rely on diets that allow the maintenance of the total cholesterol level in the range of tolerance.


- foods that in case of hypercholesterolemia it is advisable to reduce, if not eliminate, are generally those of animal origin such as:

  • Red meats;
  • sausages;
  • cheeses;
  • milk and derivatives;
  • egg.
     

together with derivatives of hydrogenated fats such as:

  • Margarine;
  • salty and sweet snacks;
  • bouillon cubes.
     

do not deprive yourself completely of most foods of animal origin it is useful to know in depth the characteristics of each one.
 


The main foods of animal origin

  • Latte: it is possible not to give up milk by using vegetable drinks (eg soy milk, almond, rice) or cow's milk but by choosing to consume partially skimmed or fully skimmed milk.

    In fact, skimming consists in the partial or total elimination of the fat percentage of the milk, reducing the quantity of cholesterol taken by half or one third.
  • Yogurt: it is an excellent source of protein and, belonging to the category of fermented milks, contains specific microorganisms that are used for its realization: probiotics that can contribute to the homeostasis of the intestinal microbiota.

    In order not to do without these characteristics useful for health without compromising cholesterol values, it is advisable to turn to the consumption of low-fat or low-fat yogurt.
  • Cheeses: they are among the foods prohibited during a specific diet to control cholesterol values, since they contain a high percentage of fat mass and consequently of cholesterol.

    In this case it is possible to direct the food preferences on fresh cheeses that have a higher quantity of water in them and a lower percentage of cholesterol. Among these, those considered lighter are ricotta, cottage cheese, mozzarella and crescenza but it is important not to exceed in quantities, consuming them maximum 1/2 times a week.
  • Red meats: it is better to prefer white meats such as chicken, turkey and rabbit and consume more fish.
  • Margarine: to be replaced using only extra virgin olive oil and in moderate quantities. 
  • Stock cubes: to be eliminated from the diet. To flavor risottos or broths, use cooking water from mixed vegetables enriched with aromatic herbs.
     

The Mediterranean diet boasts the greatest variety of foods and combinations of foods, allows you to have a healthy, balanced and varied diet even by reducing the foods mentioned above.




 

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