Cholesterol and Depression
Here's the mini-course on cholesterol. Do you know your numbers? Cholesterol is classified as HDL (good) and LDL (bad). You have both kinds. You want your HDL levels up and your LDL levels down, and you want their combined numbers to be less than 200. This lowers your risk for heart attack and stroke. The healthier your cardiovascular system, the more energy you have for battling depression.
That may seem like a contradiction of terms, if you've decided that fats are the enemy. With all the discussion about low-fat this and nonfat that, you may think that fat is the enemy. It isn't. Well, at least certain kinds of fat aren't the enemy, and the bottom line is that your body needs fat in order to operate effectively.
Saturated Fats — The Bad Guys
Potato chips, fried chicken, French fries, and all their friends and acquaintances are not good for you. Stop eating them! They're bad, bad, bad! Saturated fats are the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). These are the animal fats and they're found in milk (whole and two percent), butter, cream, cheese, lard, and meat products. In the plant world, you'll find them in coconut, coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter.
Even though there are good fats, too much fat of any kind isn't good. Keep your total fat intake between 25 and 35 percent of your daily calories.
Polyunsaturated, Mono-Unsaturated Fats, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids — The Good Guys
Researchers at Harvard University found that increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating fatty fish, such as salmon, can help lift symptoms of depression. These omega-3s are believed to raise serotonin levels, in the same fashion that antidepressants, such as Prozac, do. So, where to find these gems? Avocados, olives, walnuts, salmon, trout, and herring are good sources. And for cooking? Try soybean, corn, safflower, canola, olive, and sunflower oils. Stock your cupboard and pantry with the good guys.