Are you looking for a sensible diet for high cholesterol? If you have high cholesterol you should definitely try to lower it with dietary changes.
You may have heard that in 2015, the USDA proclaimed: “Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”
Why the change? According to Dr. Steven Nissen, “Only 15% of circulating cholesterol in the blood comes from what you eat. The other 85% comes from the liver.”
But, he also says: “It’s easy to eat your way to an alarmingly high cholesterol level. The reverse is true, too — changing what you eat can lower your cholesterol and improve the armada of fats floating through your bloodstream.”
High cholesterol is a serious health issue because it is a known risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. High cholesterol causes plaque buildup in your arteries. The result is decreased blood flow, which affects the function of the body’s cells and organs.
While high cholesterol may be genetic, it is definitely worth altering your diet to try to lower your cholesterol levels.
A Sensible Diet for High Cholesterol
Eating a healthy diet, even in it does not lower your cholesterol level, benefits your overall health.
Here’s a good synopsis from the Harvard Medical School of the foods that you should avoid and the ones that you should include in your diet. Don’t focus on having to give up your favorite foods. Instead, think about making substitutions.
Foods to Avoid on a Diet for High Cholesterol
• Saturated fats
Whether or not saturated fat is a risk factor for heart disease is currently under debate. But, if you have high cholesterol, I recommend limiting your intake of saturated-fat-rich foods.
Sources of saturated fat include animal products, such as red meat, whole-fat dairy products, and eggs. Vegetable oils, such as palm oil, coconut oil, and cocoa butter also have high saturated fat levels.
• Trans fats
Trans fats result from the chemical reaction that turns liquid vegetable oil into solid margarine or shortening and that prevents liquid vegetable oils from turning rancid.
These fats have no nutritional value. The evidence is clear that they are bad for heart health. Trans fats increase bad cholesterol, known as LDL. They also increase triglyceride levels. At the same time they reduce the good cholesterol, known as HDL.
In 2015, the FDA banned trans fats from the food supply. The ban will be phased in over the next several years.
• Control Your Weight and Get Some Exercise
Being overweight and not exercising affect fats circulating in the bloodstream. Excess weight raises the levels of bad cholesterol. Being inactive depresses the good HDL cholesterol.
Foods to Add to a Sensible Diet for High Cholesterol
Foods lower cholesterol in a couple of different ways. Some foods have soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and removes it from the body. Other foods supply polyunsaturated fats, which lower LDL cholesterol. And still others have plant sterols and stanols, which stop the body from absorbing cholesterol.
Here are some of the foods that are helpful on a diet for high cholesterol.
• Oats. Have a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast or make overnight oats. Most of us eat only about half the recommended 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber.
• Whole grains. Add barley, brown rice, wild rice or other whole grains to your diet. They supply soluble fiber.
• Beans. Beans are another good source of soluble fiber. They will also keep you feeling full for a long time since they take time for our bodies to digest.
• Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.
• Nuts. Studies show that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating just two ounces of nuts a day can lower LDL by about 5%.
• Vegetable oils. Use liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, or to lower your LDL.
• Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin. Pectin is a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.
• Foods fortified with sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols extracted from plants. They prevent our bodies from absorbing cholesterol. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate. As little as two grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.
• Soy. Eating soybeans or tofu and drinking soy milk can modestly lower your LDL.
• Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL because it has omega-3 fats. Omega-3s also reduce triglycerides.
Click here to read the full article from Harvard Health about a sensible diet for high cholesterol.