• Maria B.

Lowering Cholesterol With Food

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

Food is important, but not something we should be gluttonous about seeing how the stuff in food affect us in the long run. Many foods should not be over consumed or you will develop high cholesterol.

Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.

Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include

Whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal and oat branFruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and prunesLegumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chick peas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can increase important cholesterol-lowering compounds in your diet. These compounds, called plant stanols or sterols, work like soluble fiber.

Eat fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids won't lower your LDL level, but they may help raise your HDL level. They may also protect your heart from blood clots and inflammation and reduce your risk of heart attack. Fish that are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna (canned or fresh), and mackerel. Try to eat these fish two times a week.

Limit salt. You should try to limit the amount of sodium (salt) that you eat to no more than 2,300 milligrams (about 1 teaspoon of salt) a day. That includes all the sodium you eat, whether it was added in cooking or at the table, or already present in food products. Limiting salt won't lower your cholesterol, but it can lower your risk of heart diseases by helping to lower your blood pressure. You can reduce your sodium by instead choosing low-salt and "no added salt" foods and seasonings at the table or while cooking.

Limit alcohol. Alcohol adds extra calories, which can lead to weight gain. Being overweight can raise your LDL level and lower your HDL level. Too much alcohol can also increase your risk of heart diseases because it can raise your blood pressure and triglyceride level. One drink is a glass of wine, beer, or a small amount of hard liquor, and the recommendation is that

Men should have no more than two drinks containing alcohol a dayWomen should have no more than one drink containing alcohol a day

Nutrition labels can help you figure out how much fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber, and sodium is in the foods that you buy.

Best meal plans would be:

1. Mediterranean Diet

You’ll eat what people in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea have relied on for centuries: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, and olive oil. The proof is in the pudding: Scientific research suggests it’s excellent for heart health.

Many doctors use this as a go-to diet for people with high cholesterol. “The fact that it's not a fad, it tastes good, it's flexible, and adaptable make it easier to share with patients and set them up for success,” says James Beckerman, MD, a cardiologist in Portland, OR.

2. TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes)

This three-part plan (diet, exercise, and weight control) can lower your LDL cholesterol by 20% to 30%.

You’ll say goodbye to trans fats and avoid foods with saturated fat, but you won’t feel deprived. You’ll eat healthier versions of your favorite foods, like lean ham instead of bacon.

There’s even room for pancakes, peanut butter, and ice cream, as long as you keep portions in check.

3. DASH Diet

This easy-to-follow plan gets a stamp of approval from the American Heartb Association and is proven to lower blood pressure.

Bonus: It works fast. In one study, people saw results in just 2 weeks.

You’ll eat foods like grains, fruits, and veggies, which give you fiber and other nutrients. And you'll get lean proteins like low-fat milk products, beans, and fish. You’ll cut way back on sodium, added sugar, sweets, and red meat.

4. Mayo Clinic Diet

This plan just might become your new way of life. You'll choose high-fiber foods like oatmeal and oat bran, fish and other foods loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, nuts like walnuts and almonds, and olive oil, to help lower cholesterol.

Exercise and portion size are also big parts of this plan, which begins with a 2-week jump-start phase and keeps going forever.

5. Vegetarian or Vegan Diet

These plant-based diets could do a lot for your cholesterol, if you choose your foods wisely.

Vegetarians don't eat any meat. Vegans don't eat any animal products, including meat, eggs, dairy, or even honey.

Studies suggest vegetarians are less likely to get heart disease and high blood pressure.

That’s because a diet with low or no animal products tends to be lower in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

But if you’re going vegetarian or vegan, you'll still need to check food labels and keep sweets and fatty foods to a minimum. You may also want to check with a dietitian that you're getting enough protein and essential nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and zinc.

6. Flexitarian Diet

Like the idea of eating a mostly vegetarian diet, but with room for small portions of meat, fish, and poultry? That's called a "flexitarian" diet. It has many of the health benefits of a vegetarian diet but room for flexibility.

You'll fill about half your plate with fruits and vegetables. The other half will be a mix of whole grains and lean protein. Low-fat dairy products are also recommended, like milk, yogurt, and cheese.

7. The Engine 2 Diet

This is a plant-based diet created by a firefighter and former professional athlete. It’s a radical diet change to lower your LDL cholesterol levels and boost your HDL levels.

It's not a very flexible plan. You’ll enjoy lots of whole grains, veggies, fruits, legumes, tofu, and soy products, but no meat, dairy, or processed foods.

8. Biggest Loser Diet

You can lower your cholesterol while losing weight, lowering your blood pressure, getting stronger, and boosting your energy with this diet, which is based on the hit TV show.

Exercise is a must. And if you want results like the people on the TV show, going the extra mile is key.

9. Weight Watchers

This is a great plan for long-term health benefits, especially if you want to manage your weight. It’s a well-balanced diet that can help you feel full and satisfied, so it’s likely that you’ll stick to it.

“You don’t want to ‘diet’ your entire life, but rather choose meals that are consistent with healthy life choices,” says Paul B. Langevin, MD, of Philadelphia.

The plan works best if you choose meals that are high in protein and fiber, and eat fewer carbohydrates and fats, Langevin says.

10. Dean Ornish Diet

Ornish's plan comes in several levels. The strictest one is very low in fat and leaves out animal products.

In one small study, people who followed this ultra-low-fat diet lowered their cholesterol levels by more than 30%. President Bill Clinton said Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Diseaseinspired him to radically change his diet following emergency heart surgery.

Many people may find that tough to do. But Ornish also gives you other options that aren't as strict, depending on your health goals.

“Some fats are good and necessary,” says Langevin. He says fats like fish oils, polyunsaturated oils, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are off-limits on the strictest version of Ornish's plan, are good for you and necessary to keep your body functioning well.

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