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Low Cholesterol Diet

January 19, 2016  |  Difficulty: Easy

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The best way to control cholesterol is by changing your diet. Dietary cholesterol plays an important role in raising blood cholesterol levels; however, individuals respond differently to a diet high in cholesterol. Some get increased levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, while others do not respond significantly. In any case, a very high intake of dietary cholesterol may be harmful, even though blood cholesterol levels do not vary much.

Start eating foods low in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol to lower blood cholesterol levels. Increase you fiber intake by eating whole grain bread, cereal, pasta, and brown rice. Eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and avoid fried foods, simple sugars, and animal products high in saturated fat (e.g., beef, lamb, veal, pork, duck, goose, cream, cheese, butter, and egg yolk).

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture "My Plate" guidelines, try to have half of your plate filled with fruit and vegetables, a quarter with whole grains, and the remaining quarter with protein, focusing on lean protein.

Choose the Right Fats

It is often recommended to limit the saturated fats in your diet. Saturated fats are naturally solid at room temperature and they raise blood cholesterol more than any other type of fat or food. They are found in red meat, whole-milk dairy products, lard, and some tropical oils like coconut and palm oil.

Unsaturated fats are those you should focus on. Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They are liquid at room temperature and come mainly from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. Your diet should include olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, and avocados. One type of polyunsaturated fat are omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to protect against heart disease because they help lower LDL cholesterol. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and unhydrogenated soybean oil.

Beware of trans fats! These are unsaturated fats that have been modified chemically to be solid at room temperature. Also known as partially hydrogenated oils on ingredient lists, trans fats are usually found in products that have long shelf lives, like commercially prepared baked goods and margarine. Trans fats can be even more harmful than saturated fat, since they can raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels as well as decrease the good type of cholesterol (HDL). The American Heart Association strictly recommends limiting the intake of trans fats to less than 1 percent of daily calories.

Drinks

Above all you should cut out drinks with added sugar. This doesn’t, however, mean that you should only focus on purified water. Try, for example, grape juice, which has great benefits. Two glasses a day of grape juice are beneficial thanks to the flavonoids and resveratrol within. It is suggested to consume eight ounces of grape juice in a day for women and 16 ounces of grape juice daily for men. Of course, the best option would be to choose a 100% juice without added sugar.

According to Harvard University studies, drinking green or black tea, thanks to the flavonoids, may lead to modest drops in the LDL cholesterol and triglycerid levels. It is, however, advised to stay with only a cup or two of tea a day, since excessive amounts may harm the kidneys.

Drinking a glass of red wine each day is also known to help reduce the risk of heart disease. It contains alcohol, antioxidants, and one polyphenol called resveratrol, which may offer heart-protective benefits, including the reduction of damage to blood vessels. Because drinking alcohol also has other downsides, like harming the liver, the American Heart Association does not recommend that you start drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverages specifically to lower your cholesterol.

 

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