Fats and Nutrition
The main types of fats usually measured in the blood are:
Triglycerides are a kind of fat normally found in the blood and one of the sources of energy usable by the cells, these come from fat absorption in foods. We could say that triglycerides are the body’s way to store energy. When an excess of calories is ingested, triglycerides deposits and its blood levels increase. To avoid these levels from increasing, fat, sugar, and alcohol ingestion should be reduced, in addition to maintaining a healthy weight.
This is a type of fat that is present in almost every organ. It is involved in the production of hormones, vitamin D, cell membranes, and substances needed for fat absorption (salts and bile acids).
Elevated cholesterol levels are directly related to the development of cardiovascular diseases, which is why they should be kept within proper limits. In order to achieve this, one should keep a healthy weight, do physical activity, and reduce the consumption of foods which are high in fat and cholesterol (pork, chicken skin, organ meats, fried foods, eggs, whole milk, butter, etc.).
These are a type of fat found in the cell membranes. Their levels hardly ever vary with diet.
Lipoproteins are a combination of lipids with proteins; this is the way in which lipids are transported in the bloodstream. There are several types of lipoproteins depending on the type and amount of fat.
VLDL or very low-density lipoprotein
These carry triglycerides from the intestine and liver to the muscles and adipose tissue (stored fat) to be either used as energy or be accumulated, depending on what the body needs. These lipoproteins contain more triglycerides and less cholesterol.
LDL or low density lipoprotein
LDL carry cholesterol from the liver to other tissues and organs. They contain more cholesterol and less proteins and triglycerides. Because these deliver cholesterol to the tissues (including arterial cells) they are known as Bad Cholesterol.
HDL or high density lipoprotein
HDL carry cholesterol from various tissues to the liver to be metabolized and excreted mainly as bile salts. Because they extract cholesterol from tissues they are known as Good Cholesterol.
|Cholesterol||Less than 200 mg/dl|
|Tryglicerides||Less than 160 mg/dl|
|HDL||Less than 45 mg/dl|
|LDL||Less than 130 mg/dl|
Factors that affect blood cholesterol levels
- Weight: Being overweight can increase cholesterol levels.
- Age and sex: It has been shown that as age increases, cholesterol levels also increase, these are also greater in males.
- Physical Activity: A regular exercise program can help decrease cholesterol levels and blood pressure. It also increases HDL (good cholesterol), and allows to maintain a healthy weight.
- Alcoholic Beverages: Excessive alcohol consumption increases both cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
- Type of Nutrition: Excessive fat ingestion, especially saturated fats which are present in animal origin products (meat, chicken, pork, whole milk, butter), and foods high in cholesterol (eggs, chicken skin, milk cream, cheese, seafood, etc.) could increase blood cholesterol levels.
Recommendations to reduce cholesterol levels
- Eat less fatty foods
Remember that it’s important to reduce your total fat intake, especially saturated fats contained in animal origin foods, since this type of fat is more detrimental than the polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils and fish.
- Eat less cholesterol-rich foods
Most foods which are high in saturated fat are also high in cholesterol, so decrease intake of both.
- Increase fiber in your diet
Fiber is found in whole grain foods, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, and has the ability to decrease fat absorption.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do exercise on a regular basis
Lipids or fats
Fats found in food can be classified in several ways; one of these is a very well-known form. Based on their chemical structure fats can be classified into Saturated, Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fats.
- Saturated fats are those that increase blood cholesterol levels, which also contribute to the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries. They are mainly found in animal origin foods (meat, pork, chicken, cheese, whole milk, butter), but also exist in some plant foods like coconut, palm oil, and cottonseed oil.
- Polyunsaturated fats have no effect on blood cholesterol levels, they can be consumed in moderation, and are mostly found in corn, or sunflower oil, corn-based margarine, and sunflower, as well as pumpkin seeds.
The different types of fats listed above are found in the blood, bound to other substances such as glicerondo to which three fatty acids bind (either saturated or unsaturated) forming triglycerides.
- Monounsaturated fats are highly recommended because these have been attributed an important role in increasing HDL (good cholesterol). They are mainly found in olives, olive oil, avocado, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts and nuts. Just like other types of fats, it should be consumed in moderation and in their raw form (not heated to high temperatures), such as in salad dressings, and other foods.
Polyunsaturated Fats (Omega 3)
Another type of recommended fat is the one that most fish contain, especially sardines, croaker, fresh tuna, kingfish, bonito, and salmon. These are called Omega 3 (W3) oils, and they play an important role in increasing blood flow, reducing clots (prevents formation of blood clots), making the blood thinner so it can pass more easily through small arteries; it is also accredited with reducing triglyceride levels in the blood.
These, as well as cholesterol and phospholipids, have vital roles in the body, such as energy production, cell membrane formation (which allows for the integrity of the cell contents as well as substance exchange with other cells), and the formation of hormones and bile salts.