Low Cholesterol Diet
As its name suggests, a low cholesterol diet is that which helps lower your blood cholesterol levels. Such a diet is not really one where you need to sacrifice some of your most favorite foods. Making some small tweaks in your existing diets is usually enough to help you create a low cholesterol diet.
There are two ways to approach a diet low in cholesterol. The first is to lower the cholesterol with the help of cholesterol lowering foods, and the second is to maintain the low cholesterol with the help of low cholesterol foods that do not cause a spike in the blood cholesterol levels.
Here are some foods that can help you lower cholesterol:
- High fiber food: Consume oatmeal and oat bran to reduce your cholesterol levels. The best thing is to make these cereals a permanent fixture in your life. Oatmeal especially, consists of a lot of soluble fibers. This helps reduce the bad cholesterol or the LDL. In fact, about 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day can help you lower your entire LDL level considerably. To increase the nutrition, you can add fruits and vegetables or nuts to your oatmeal high fiber cereals.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Known to be one of nature’s best foods, omega 3 fatty acids can effectively lower your bad cholesterol and reduce the likelihood of developing heart diseases associated with cholesterol. Fish is one of the richest sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Some of the recommended fish to consume include lake trout, canned tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, albacore tuna, herring and halibut. When cooking the fish, use healthy cooking methods such as baking and grilling. Avoid adding any unhealthy fats to them as that can decrease the health effects of the fish.
- Nuts: Nuts like walnuts and almonds are very healthy and can reduce blood cholesterol effectively. They are also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, avoid salted, fried or sugar coated nuts as they are not very healthy. Since nuts are naturally high in calories, avoid consuming them in large quantities.
- Olive oil: This is one of the healthiest oils you can use for cooking or eating. It contains a lot of antioxidants and can help lower the bad LDL. Replace your cooking fats with 2 tablespoons of olive oil to make your meals healthier. Use extra virgin olive oil to increase the health benefits.
Foods to Avoid When On a Low Cholesterol Diet
When you are on a low cholesterol diet, it is best to avoid certain foods that may increase your cholesterol. The cholesterol in your diet usually comes from foods such as egg yolks and high fat meats. Fatty cuts of red meats are usually very high in cholesterol and therefore should be avoided. Cholesterol levels can also rise due to fatty foods that contain trans fats and saturated fats. It is best to avoid consuming junk foods and other foods that may contain such harmful fats. When buying processed or packaged foods, always check the labels to see if there are any trans fats and saturated fats in the foods. If they do, then avoid consuming these foods.
The liver is the main organ that deals with cholesterol and processes it. If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, the LDL begins to deposit on the arteries, and this causes the blood pressure to increase. As the cholesterol and plaque keep narrowing the arteries, the arteries eventually harden and become blocked. This can lead to various heart and circulatory diseases along with heart attacks and strokes.
The causes of high cholesterol are rather simple. When you consume a fat rich diet, with lots of saturated and trans fats, it can cause a steady increase in your cholesterol levels. Some amount of cholesterol in the body does not cause any harm, but if the cholesterol levels rise too much or too quickly, it can cause heart and circulatory diseases. Today, unchecked cholesterol due to unhealthy diets and poor lifestyle choices has become a leading cause of death amongst middle aged and older adults. Fortunately, with some simple lifestyle and dietary changes, you can reduce your cholesterol levels and improve your health.
While medications may be required when you have extremely high cholesterol levels, most cases of high cholesterol can be managed with dietary and lifestyle changes. In your diet, include foods that lower cholesterol and avoid foods that may increase the cholesterol content. However, when you let your cholesterol levels increase unchecked, more drastic measures may be needed to improve your health. These include surgery and medications.
What Is a Good Cholesterol Level?
The most desirable cholesterol levels in your blood are 200 mg/dL. However, a cholesterol level of 200-239 mg/dL is considered marginally high and still manageable. If you let the cholesterol levels become higher than this, you may need medications and drastic diet as well as lifestyle changes.