Cholesterol High Diet

A healthy diet is among the most important approaches to reducing blood cholesterol levels and, therefore, cardiovascular disease. Planning a healthy diet means thinking differently about the types of food you eat and the quantity of food you consume.

A balanced diet is important, but you may have to consider a slightly different balance. Generally, a diet low in fat should replace one that is high in fat. Low fat content in meals can eventually help to reduce fat levels in the blood. Healthy regimens for people wishing to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease must specifically aim to reduce cholesterol.

A cholesterol diet is one that targets cholesterol intake, its levels in the blood and its production by the body. A reduction of only high fat foods may not be enough to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood because the body itself manufactures cholesterol. For people with high levels, medication or other interventions may be needed along with the dietary changes.

A cholesterol lowering diet may include specific foods and/or food substitutes. An example is spreads made from unsaturated vegetable oils instead of butter. Some people have made Benecol® spread their butter substitute of choice, largely because it contains sitostanol (plant stanol esters). While small quantities of sitostanol have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol by blocking absorption of fat, its use is intended for persons who do not require medical management for their high cholesterol.

Avocados are a great addition to a healthy diet.Avocados, typically considered a high-fat food, actually contain “good” unsaturated fats. Because they are high in fiber and vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin E, avocados are a great addition to a healthy diet. The Dietary Guidelines established by the USDA Department of Health and Human Services now recommends avocados as part of a healthy diet.

Diets with large amounts of simple carbohydrates such as refined cane sugar and/or high fat foods typically contribute to high body fat. While much of the fat that is consumed is stored as fat in the body, excess carbohydrates are also stored as fat.

Some researchers believe that meal frequency, in addition to making good food choices, positively affects the body’s cholesterol levels. A recent report in the British Medical Journal confirmed that people who eat smaller portions up to six times a day or more (“grazers”) had significantly lower cholesterol levels than people who ate two big meals a day.

Nutrition Labels

Food labels provide nutritional information to help in choosing a balanced diet.Food labels provide nutritional information that includes the total amount of food energy, fats, carbohydrates and proteins, cholesterol content, and amounts of key vitamins and minerals. This information helps you to take an active role in choosing a balanced diet that is lower in cholesterol.

Two important ways to lower cholesterol are to severely limit its intake and to avoid foods with saturated fat, especially if they are of animal origin. Check labels for the presence of saturated fat. Animal products, including dairy, tend to have much higher levels. Many processed and snack items use less expensive saturated fats, and often incorporate hydrogenated or partly-hydrogenated fats to give the product an appealing texture or consistency.

Recent findings indicate that corn syrup — a highly saturated form of sugar — has been used as an inexpensive sweetener in many packaged foods. Watch out for its high carbohydrate content.

Watch out for frozen and canned products that incorporate lard or oil and often a great deal of sodium or salt. Sodium is frequently used as a preservative in processed meats available in supermarkets and delis and is responsible for increasing blood pressure.

Labels can be important sources of information even when specific quantities are not stated. By law, companies are required to list the ingredients of a product in descending order by weight. If an ingredient you’re trying to avoid appears at the head of the ingredient list, you might choose to avoid that particular product. Sometimes companies are required to add warnings on labels. When the fat substitute olestra appeared to cause digestive tract problems for many consumers, products containing olestra were required to carry a warning on their labels.

Are Supplements a Good Thing?

Some supplements work to replace the fat you normally eat in your diet or to assist the body in metabolizing fat stored in the body. Food supplements that claim to reduce cholesterol levels should be viewed with caution and not taken without the “green light” from your physician.

Niacin and soluble fiber of organic origin have benefited some people but have produced side effects in others. Some products have been specifically designed to target cholesterol levels but very little research evidence exists to establish their benefits. Often, long-term effects from their use are unknown.

Resources

National Library of Medicine. (updated 2002). Heart disease and diet. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.

Titan, S. M. O., Bingham, S., Welch, A., Luben, R., Oakes, S., Day, N., Khaw, K-T. (2001, December 1). Frequency of eating and concentrations of serum cholesterol in the Norfolk population of the European prospective investigation into cancer (EPIC-Norfolk): cross sectional study. British Medical Journal 323(7324). 1286-1288.