Foods containing high amounts of cholesterol are known to predispose an individual to cardiovascular diseases. Some of the foods with high amounts of cholesterol include:
- Processed vegetable oils such as canola oil, palm oil, and hydrogenated oils.
- Processed foods such as chips, baked foods, and fried foods.
- Animal brains have a composition of fats and cholesterol.
- Eggs-the egg yolk has a high concentration of cholesterol with about 200mg of low-density lipoproteins (Sacks, 1984).
- Milk and dairy products
These foods have either a high amount of saturated fats or trans fats that increase the cholesterol levels in the blood.
Dietary cholesterol is a type of cholesterol that is obtained from the foods consumed.
Foods containing cholesterol can affect a person’s blood cholesterol. This is because these foods have a high amount of saturated fats and trans fats that increase the low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and reduce the amounts of high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL increases cholesterol levels. The HDL binds itself to the cholesterol and transports it to the liver where it is synthesized and excreted thereby reducing the cholesterol levels in the blood.
Blood cholesterol is the amount of cholesterol in a person’s blood. The components include high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins, and triglycerides. HDL transports cholesterol to the liver, LDL transports the cholesterol to body tissues and triglycerides are the fatty acids present in the blood that store energy and form the bi-lipid layer of cell membranes. The doctor performs a cholesterol test to know the amount of HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and the total cholesterols levels of a person.
Saturated fats are fatty acids with a single bond in the fatty acid molecules. Consumption of foods high in unsaturated fats increases the risk of heart disease because it increases the levels of LDL. Butter is an example of saturated acid.
Hydrogenated fats are fats that have hydrogen added to unsaturated fats to prevent rancidity and maintain the solid form at room temperature. Hydrogenated fats pose a risk to heart health by increasing the levels of LDL. Margarine is an example of hydrogenated fats.
Trans fats are fatty acids that have a trans configuration formed from partial hydrogenation that converts the cis bonds in unsaturated fats to trans bonds. Trans fats have high levels of saturated fats which raise the LDL level and increase the risk for heart diseases.
Polyunsaturated fats are fats that have two or more double bonds in the hydrocarbon chain. Fish oil is an example. These fats are beneficial to heart health because they reduce LDL (bad cholesterol and increase HDL( good cholesterol).
Monounsaturated fats have one double bond between carbon atoms in a hydrocarbon chain. An example is olive oil. Consumption of this fat is helpful in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases as it increases the high-density lipoproteins that transport cholesterol to the liver to be expelled.
Omega 3 fats are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acid with a double bond on the third carbon Omega 3 fats such as fish oil reduce the level of triglycerides, therefore, is good for a healthy heart.
Omega 6 fat is a polyunsaturated fatty acid with a double bond located at the sixth carbon atom on the hydrocarbon chain. An example is flaxseed oil, which reduces the triglyceride level. Therefore, it is good for maintaining a healthy heart.
The type of fat is what differentiates margarine and butter. Margarine contains plant-based fat like palm oil while butter is obtained from dairy. Butter contains a high amount of triglycerides while Margarine has a high amount of trans fats that increase the blood cholesterol level. (Steven,1904). However, both of them have high amounts of saturated fats that increase cholesterol levels, therefore, increasing the risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Shrimps contain a high cholesterol level, but it does not increase the cholesterol levels in the blood. Therefore, it is good food for good heart health. Shrimp does not have trans fats and has very little saturated fats. These increase the HDL levels that improve heart health.
The amount and type of oil can affect a person’s cholesterol levels. Consuming a lot of oil, especially vegetable oil will increase cholesterol levels. Foods with high amounts of triglycerides and trans fats will increase the cholesterol level whereas foods with high amounts of unsaturated fatty acids will reduce cholesterol levels.
Cardiovascular patients are given a recommendation for low-fat slow cholesterols and low sodium to reduce cholesterol levels. Reducing sodium also reduces blood pressure.
A diet high in sugar is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. This is because excess sugar is stored as triglyceride which increases the risk of heart diseases. (Barnes, 1974). Nutrition labeling helps consumers to read the ingredients and make informed choices to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Some of the countries with a low prevalence of heart disease are France, India, and Japan. The French have a low prevalence because of the high consumption of fruits and vegetables. (Renaud,1992). Israel’s diet contains a lot of whole grains and vegetables. Japanese have a low-risk risk of heart disease due to their high consumption of fish. Fish are important sources of omega fats that prevent heart diseases. In my research, I developed a healthy meal plan sample from all three countries. They are listed below:
- Sample meal plan in France: Ratatouille which has vegetables in a tomato paste.
- Sample meal plan in Israel: Sabich in a pita which has eggs, onions, tomatoes, pickled berries, and potatoes.
- Sample meal plan in Japan: Sashimi which contains slices of tuna, salmon, and squids
Plenty of fruits and vegetables is a common similarity in the diet of the three countries. Lifestyles have contributed a lot to reducing the prevalence of heart diseases. The Japanese high fish diet provides omega fatty acids that prevent heart disease. The French and Israelites consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that have polyunsaturated fatty acids necessary for a healthy heart.
Sacks, F., & Kass, E. (1984). Eggs and cholesterol. The Lancet, 323(8387), 1191.
Leyton, J., Drury, P. J., & Crawford, M. A. (1987). Differential oxidation of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in vivo in the rat. British Journal of Nutrition, 57(3), 383-393.
Stevens, F. (1904). MARGARINE FOR BUTTER. The Lancet, 164(4220), 174.
Barnes, R. J. (1974). SUGAR AND HEART-DISEASE. The Lancet, 303(7865), 1054.
Renaud, S. D., & de Lorgeril, M. (1992). Wine, alcohol, platelets, and the French paradox for coronary heart disease. The Lancet, 339(8808), 1523-1526.