In the first article we investigated, in general terms, what were the general steps to follow to deal with a very common and sometimes underestimated problem such as the increase in fats circulating in the blood, cholesterol and triglycerides in particular.
In this second article we go a little more specifically talking about individual foods, so that we can make an informed choice, discriminating between foods that can be eaten regularly and those that should instead be considered as exceptions.
However, it is necessary to underline that the general rule of not exaggerating applies to all foods, because absurdly even too much water can lead to developing serious problems.
FIRST COURSES AND BREAD
Pasta, rice and bread can be considered good foods, especially when eaten whole and in the correct dose: the amount of fiber and protein contained is abundant and helps manage cholesterol.
The advice is to consume whole foods at least three or four days a week, in order to vary the daily menus and still take nutritious foods. It is also possible to turn to something a little more sophisticated by focusing on:
spelled or barley grains,
amaranth (the latter, despite the similar nutritional value to the foods listed above, should be used as a condiment because after cooking it forms a kind of jelly due to the small size of the grain).
Lean meats such as chicken or turkey breast and, in general, white meats are preferable.
Red meats, preserved ones, cold cuts and sausages are often too fat to be considered a good choice. In particular, it is the type of fat that is important: these foods provide saturated fatty acids, which are among the causes of the increase in blood lipids.
Different cuts of entrails, such as tripe or brains, are also rich in them.
Chicken eggs are an inexpensive source of protein and other nutrients, but they’re also naturally high in cholesterol; if in the past this observation had led to the advice of caution in the case of patients with hypercholesterolaemia problems, the most recent literature instead seems to demonstrate that the effective impact is substantially negligible, at least up to doses equal to 6-7 eggs per week (to be limited especially in case of diabetes ).
The controversy was probably linked to the presence of cholesterol as such in the yolk, which however has a substantially negligible influence on the levels circulating in the body, unlike saturated fats (of which the egg is relatively low). Finally, do not forget the many other beneficial substances present, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamins, …
However, attention is needed in the way they are cooked and consumed, the use of butter, for example, obviously has a substantial impact (just as any added salt would worsen a possible picture of high blood pressure ).
In cases where it is desired in any case to avoid the consumption of dietary cholesterol, it is possible to opt for egg white alone, a precious source of noble proteins but free of fat and cholesterol.
The best fish to prefer in case of hyperlipidemia is blue fish, i.e. caught ocean fish, because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Among the fish that are richest in it we remember:
but in general all oily fish is acceptable.
Omega -3s are a type of fatty acid that has been shown to lower blood lipid levels, so they are always recommended.
However, it is important to be careful when choosing fish: if you eat it frequently, choose small fish (herring and anchovies), because unfortunately there is a danger of water pollution: larger fish can in fact accumulate toxins such as mercury and PCB, less probable event in small fish (one large fish eats a thousand small fish, accumulating all the mercury eaten by its prey in its body).
MILK AND DAIRY PRODUCTS
Milk is a good food, it has no particular contraindications, provided that it is consumed skimmed or partially skimmed, or that its fat content is industrially reduced. Even milk, in fact, provides saturated fatty acids, so choosing a fat-free product allows you not to increase blood lipids. The same goes for dairy products.
Aged cheeses are very fat, so it is good to consider them an exception.
For the fresh ones, it is possible to choose products with a reduced fat content.
Even yoghurts should be taken without sugar and perhaps with little fat.
Butter should of course be considered an exception.
Margarines are a food often derived from vegetable fats, but industrially treated with a process called esterification. The rationale is to transform the fatty acids of vegetables, which are generally polyunsaturated, into saturated, because in this way they are able to compact and at room temperature (or almost) they have a solid appearance, similar to butter.
The result from a nutritional point of view, however, is to inherit the same defects of saturated fats, with the aggravating circumstance that they can also damage cell membranes.
All vegetables are recommended and must form the basis of the diet; they provide fiber, vitamins and minerals important for health and help manage situations of high cholesterol.
Extra virgin olive oil (for the oleic acid content) and flaxseed oil (for the omega-3 content) are recommended.
Other types of oils are to be considered occasional, as they bring omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are important but, if consumed in high doses compared to omega-3, they are considered riskier rather than beneficial. The optimal ratio is about 4:1 between omega-6 and omega-3, while for people who do not follow a balanced diet it is easy to reach even 30:1.
No contraindications to the use of vinegar.
FRUITS AND DRIED FRUITS
All fruit is recommended, the important thing is not to overdo it too much
sweetened (grapes, banana)
or fat (avocado).
Nuts (walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, …) are often recommended on the basis of a precious supply of
omega-6 fatty acids (which are recommended to be taken with these foods, therefore, more than with oils),
minerals and vitamins.
It can be consumed as a useful hunger breaker and has been shown to be effective in the treatment of hyperlipidemia. Walnuts are especially recommended, which are a decent source of omega-3s.
Whenever possible, salt-free packages are to be preferred (for example in relation to pistachios).
Sugary drinks are not recommended, they should instead be considered as exceptions: the intake of simple sugars above all increases the risk of raising triglyceride levels (in addition, of course, to blood sugar ).
Alcoholic beverages should also be avoided, especially in the case of high triglycerides: often those with altered blood lipid levels already have a slightly tired liver, adding alcohol doesn’t seem like a good idea.
As with sweet drinks and for the same reasons, sweet foods should normally be avoided and consumed as exceptions; the situation is also made worse by poor quality fats which are often used for the preparation of sweets and baked goods (industrial, but not only).
Obviously also fried foods should be considered exceptions and, if necessary, only peanut oil and extra virgin olive oil should be used for their preparation, to reduce the risk of the production of free radicals and other dangerous substances following the decomposition of the oils with the heat.
In all the foods that are not recommended, I preferred to write “they are to be considered exceptions” rather than just “they should be avoided”. The reason is that, except for particular health conditions (which the doctor will have to evaluate and the nutritionist biologist must be informed about), there is no reason to give up forever and on every occasion a particular type of food .
If our problem is high triglycerides (and only those) and we are rigorously and consistently following a diet to lower them but we are at a party, nothing happens if we toast with a glass of sparkling wine or take a slice of cake.
It is obvious that, for example, the indications on pasta and bread shouldn’t even be taken into consideration for a celiac , just as alcohol would be totally banned for those suffering from cirrhosis of the liver , but an otherwise healthy person shouldn’t give it up for the whole life to something just because he is following a diet, the important thing is that they are precisely the exceptions (the consumption of fried foods when we go out with old school mates, sparkling wine at his nephew’s graduation party, chocolates for Valentine’s Day…) and not everyday life, in this way you can also better manage the food restriction given by the diet.