Many people suffer from high cholesterol yet fortunately with the proper diet you should be able to reduce your “LDL”
Just know the main ingredients in foods that cause high cholesterol, reduce and control them in your intake. Your heart’s protected. You’re healthy. Your mission accomplished.
Well, it sounds so easy…
But in actual fact, you and I got to do some “in-depth” study first on what is high cholesterol and what are some cholesterol foods to avoid.
What’s High Cholesterol?
Let’s get some terminologies cleared up first.
Cholesterol travels through the blood attached to a protein. This package of cholesterol and protein is known as lipoprotein.
It’s either high-density or low-density, based on how much protein and fat it has.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – it’s the “bad” cholesterol. LDL is mostly fat with only small amount of protein. It can clog arteries.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – it’s the “good” cholesterol. HDL is more protein than fat.
It helps clear the bad cholesterol from the blood so it doesn’t clog arteries. A high level of HDL can protect you from a heart attack.
Triglycerides – a type of fat in the blood that can affect your health. If you’ve high triglycerides and high LDL, you’re at higher risk of having a heart attack.
Right. Now to high cholesterol stuff.
Cholesterol is a type of fat known as lipid. Our body uses it for many things, such as producing new cells. Our liver makes most of the cholesterol we need. We also get cholesterol from the foods we eat.
If we’ve too much cholesterol (meaning our cholesterol level is high), it starts to build up in our arteries. The arteries hardened, normally a slow process that gets worse as we get older.
Eventually, it can block blood flow to our heart or brain and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Normal cholesterol levels hover around 200 mg/dL or under. If your cholesterol reading is anywhere from 200 to 239, you should start concocting a diet to lower the cholesterol, and if it goes over 240 then I think it’s urgent that you deal with it immediately.
However, a high reading for HDL is good, because it indicates that the levels are productive in removing the bad cholesterol from your blood.
A normal cholesterol reading for HDL is 60 or above. If it’s 40 or below, it means there’s not enough HDL in your blood and you can be at risk of having stroke or heart attack.
High cholesterol doesn’t make us sick. But by the time we find out we’ve it, it may already be clogging our arteries.
So it’s very important you and I start out eating the right diet and if you already have high cholesterol, you must begin a diet which reduces it.
What are High Cholesterol Foods?
Seems that the tastier the food, the higher the cholesterol level, right?
Steaks, lamb chops, cakes, ice creams, cheese, seafood, pastries, kidney pies.
Actually, there are 2 main “culprit” ingredients in foods that cause high cholesterol:
One is saturated fat, a fat that’s mostly in animal products – meat, egg yolk, dairy products.
The other is cholesterol, which comes from foods and from animals as well.
I’ll zero in on this fat because it’s the most dangerous.
It raises your LDL (bad) cholesterol level more than anything else in the diet. Eating too much of it is the main reason for high cholesterol levels and a high rate of heart attacks.
You and I won’t miss anything (oh, well….maybe the taste) if we don’t eat it since our body makes all the cholesterol we need.
You must know this – cholesterol from foods isn’t as harmful as the amount of saturated fat in foods.
It boils down to the fact that it isn’t the cholesterol content that makes the food harmful, it’s the saturated fat which causes our liver to produce more harmful cholesterol.
Take the example of coconut oil. It may be cholesterol free, but it’s highly saturated and thus more dangerous than say seafood, as it causes our liver to produce more harmful cholesterol.
The other example. Take processed and prepared foods. Yes, they’re handy and convenient but they’re very high cholesterol foods, also high in saturated fats.
So What Really Goes into the Best Diet for Lowering Cholesterol?
Avoid or limit having foods that are high in saturated fats and also foods high in triglycerides, as triglycerides make up 95% of all fats we eat.
When you shop for food, read the food labels carefully to find out fat and cholesterol levels.
The “jargon” used in food labels regarding cholesterol:
- Cholesterol free – it means less than 2 mg (milligrams)cholesterol and 2 grams or less fat
- Low cholesterol – it means 20 mg or less cholesterol and 2 grams or less saturated fat
- Fat free – it means less than ½ gram fat
- Low fat – it means 3 grams or less fat
- Reduced fat – it means at least 2% less fat than other brands of same food.
So, “free” doesn’t literally mean free.
I can say that the best diet is one that contains not more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day.
Interested to know how much cholesterol your favorite, tasty food contains?
Hey, besides for info, I think it’s a good guide for you if you really must eat high cholesterol food.
- -1 boiled egg, cholesterol level is 225 mg
- -3.5 oz ice cream, cholesterol level is 45 mg
- -1 oz cream cheese, cholesterol level is 27 mg
- -3.5 oz lamb, cholesterol level is 70 mg
- -3.5 oz steak (beef), cholesterol level is 70 mg
- -3.5 oz chicken, cholesterol level is 60 mg
- -3.5 oz kidney (beef), cholesterol level is 375 mg
- -3.5 oz liver (beef), cholesterol level is 370 mg
What it means is that you should eat:
- 1 boiled egg + 3.5 oz ice cream (cholesterol is 225+45=275 mg)
- 3.5 oz chicken + 1 oz cream cheese + 3.5 oz lamb (cholesterol is 60+27+70=157 mg) or
- 3.5 oz of liver or kidney (cholesterol=375 mg)
OK, that’s all about saturated fat – the most dangerous fat to avoid when planning the best diet for reducing your high cholesterol.
Oh yeah, I want to share this –
Fat, any kind of fat, contains twice the calories of carbohydrates and protein.
All fat-saturated, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat, has 9 calories in each gram whereas protein and carbohydrate both have 4 calories in each gram.
5 Super Foods for Lowering Cholesterol Levels
Throw in these super foods that are known to lower cholesterol levels:
- Oat for soluble fiber – oatmeal and oat bran are rich in soluble fiber, a type of fiber which lowers the bad LDL cholesterol without lowering the good HDL cholesterol. 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber daily decreases LDL cholesterol by about 5%. I always eat 1 bowl of oatmeal in the morning
- Fish for Omega 3 fatty acids – fish is a good source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. It lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. omega 3 fatty acids are noted for their triglyceride-lowering ability. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating at least 2 servings of fish per week, particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout and herring
- Nuts for healthy, good fats – nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) are rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium. They’re also high in plant sterols and fat – but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have all been shown to lower the bad LDL cholesterol. Take about 1.5 oz per day, as nuts are high in calories
- Foods fortified with plant sterols – plant sterols are powerful substances naturally found in plant to have the ability to block cholesterol absorption. You can find plant sterols in fortified foods such as orange juice, margarine spread, salad dressings, functional cookies and so on. If you’ve high cholesterol, then take 2 grams of plant sterols per day
- Soy – though soy may not lower cholesterol to the extent previously thought it could, it can still lower bad LDL cholesterol by 3%. Since soy products contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and low levels of saturated fat, it’s considered a healthy replacement for meats and other foods high in saturated fat
Is Diet your only Concern?
So, what’s in? What’s out?
I know diet is a very essential step in lowering high cholesterol. But even if you can come out with the best diet, it doesn’t guarantee to lower cholesterol levels.
You also need a good cardio exercise program to exercise and strengthen your heart, to keep it strong and healthy.
And then, if you’re overweight, weight loss is another important step to tackle too since overweight can lead to higher risk of having high cholesterol levels.
So maintain a healthy body weight.
But then, if you’re eating right, to maintain a healthy body weight is, ahem……no sweat!