My husband just found out that he has high bad cholesterol (LDL). I'm trying to help him figure out how to eat healthier to lower his level of LDL. A few years ago (as a vegan), he was having problems with blood sugar levels (due to eating large quantities of pasta, sweets and lots of sodas and juice.) His LDL levels at that time were fine. Now he has taken care of the blood sugar problem, but his LDL has gone up significantly. He cleaned up his diet and now eats eggs as well as plant foods.
So, my understanding of healthy fats is as following: monounsaturated fats and saturated fats are healthy. One should mostly avoid polyunsaturated fats, and not eat trans fats at all. Omega 3:Omega 6 ratio should be as high as possible. Dietary cholesterol is not harmful. Eating this way is supposed to lower one's bad cholesterol and raise one's good cholesterol.
But I must be missing something. For one, Omega 3 and Omega 6 are polyunsaturated fatty acids, so Omega 3 is found in foods which have lots of polyunsaturated fats, like flaxseed and walnuts. If you eat Omega 3 from whole food sources, that automatically ups your polyunsaturated fat intake which is supposedly bad. Also, foods like avocados, almonds and sunflower seeds are very high in Omega 6, so if you eat them, the Omega 6 side of your ratio goes way up. But they are healthy foods and it seems unreasonable to exclude them from one's diet.
Then I was also reading that many foods which have a high Omega 3: Omega 6 ratio are actually not so high in Omega 3 as one would think, since the body converts Omega 3 to ALA and DHA imperfectly. So for example, the Omega 3 in canola oil is not efficiently used by the body, so the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 should actually be thought of as 1:8 rather than 1:2.....So without specifically supplementing with DHA, or eating fish products (which I am not willing to do), one is not able to get enough DHA.
But then, even more interesting - vegans have a higher level of DHA than either fish eaters, vegetarians, or non fish eating meat eaters... (According to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
Group EPA in plasma DHA in plasma (umol/L)
(micromoles per litre)
fish-eaters 64.7 271
non-fish eating meat eaters 57.1 241.3
vegetarians 55.1 223.5
vegans 50 286.4
I'm so confused. Does anybody else have a better understanding of this?