Diabetes and cholesterol

About Cholesterol

You have probably heard of the term cholesterol and how it can influence your heart health. There are different types of cholesterol which have different effects on your body. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is a type of cholesterol which transports cholesterol from your blood stream back to your liver.

This helps to keep your arteries clear of cholesterol and promotes optimal heart health. You may be surprised to learn that the health promoting roles HDL cholesterol does not end there. This form of cholesterol also supports normal functioning of the mitochondria in your muscles. Mitochondria are the fuel or powerhouse of a cell; without mitochondria the cell cannot function.

New research on humans provides evidence to support the impressive health benefits of HDL cholesterol in your body. Researchers used a cross-sectional study design using thirty-one healthy adults without any heart disease or diabetes. 42% were female adults, and the average age was 40 years old. Average body mass index was 23.9 which is classified as a normal weight.

Researchers found a significant correlation between levels of HDL cholesterol and muscle mitochondria function. In contrast to this finding there was no correlation between mitochondria function with levels of blood glucose, insulin levels or triglyceride levels.

If you have high cholesterol, it's important to be mindful of your diet to help manage your cholesterol levels and support heart health. Here are some foods to limit or avoid:

  1. Saturated and Trans Fats:

    • Foods high in saturated fats: Fatty cuts of red meat, full-fat dairy products (butter, cheese, cream), fried foods, and processed meats (sausages, bacon).
    • Foods high in trans fats: Commercially baked goods (pastries, cookies, cakes), fried foods, and some margarines.
  2. Processed and Fried Foods:

    • Fast food and fried foods: These often contain high levels of unhealthy fats and are best consumed in moderation or avoided.
    • Packaged snacks: Many packaged snacks contain trans fats and excessive sodium.
  3. Highly Processed Carbohydrates:

    • Sugary foods and drinks: Excess sugar intake can contribute to weight gain and inflammation, which may affect cholesterol levels.
    • Refined grains: Limit white bread, white rice, and other refined grain products.
  4. Limit Dietary Cholesterol Intake:

    • Foods high in dietary cholesterol: Organ meats (liver, kidney), egg yolks, and shellfish.
    • However, dietary cholesterol's impact on blood cholesterol levels varies from person to person, and for some individuals, dietary cholesterol intake may have a limited effect on blood cholesterol levels.
  5. High-Sodium Foods:

    • Processed and canned foods: These often have high sodium content, which can contribute to high blood pressure and negatively affect heart health.
  6. Trans-Fat-Free Foods:

    • Be cautious of products labeled as "trans-fat-free," as they may still contain unhealthy fats or high levels of saturated fats.
  7. Limit Alcohol Intake:

    • Excessive alcohol consumption can raise triglyceride levels and contribute to weight gain. Moderation is key.
  8. Limit High-Fat Dairy:

    • Opt for low-fat or fat-free dairy products instead of full-fat versions.

Instead of focusing solely on what to avoid, consider incorporating heart-healthy foods into your diet:

  1. Fiber-Rich Foods:

    • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts can help lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels.
  2. Healthy Fats:

    • Sources of healthy fats include avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish (like salmon).
  3. Lean Protein:

    • Choose lean protein sources such as skinless poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and low-fat dairy products.
  4. Whole Grains:

    • Opt for whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, whole wheat, and brown rice.
  5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

    • Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) are rich in omega-3s, which can help lower triglyceride levels.
  6. Plant Sterols and Stanols:

    • These are found in foods like fortified margarine, orange juice, and certain spreads and can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
  7. Stay Hydrated:

    • Choose water as your primary beverage and limit sugary drinks.

Remember that individual dietary needs and responses can vary, so it's a good idea to work with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian to create a personalized nutrition plan that suits your health goals and preferences.

Back to blog