Cholesterol High Foods

Eating well is a result of being smart about food types, preparation methods and serving sizes. This means that you’re making good choices about what to buy for meals, how to cook particular foods and, when eating out, where to eat and how to order.

For heart patients and for those who have a cholesterol problem who would like to be proactive in preventing problems, overall meal planning is an exercise in finding an appropriate balance among essential nutrients. When developing a cholesterol diet strategy, it is just as important to add cholesterol lowering foods as it is to remove fat-laden food items from your diet.

Foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol should be limited. Some examples of these are: butter, whole milk, cheese, egg yolks, saturated oils (such as coconut or palm oil), and fried foods. These should be replaced by foods that are lower in saturated fat, such as olive oil, low-fat or skim milk, fruits and vegetables, and whole grain cereals and pasta. The American Heart Association recommends an average daily cholesterol intake of less than 300 milligrams.

Cholesterol Lowering Foods

Oatmeal, has been scientifically proven to reduce cholesterol.Cholesterol lowering products include those containing non-hydrogenated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated vegetable oils (canola and olive), and those high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. These include legumes (peas and beans), whole grains such as barley, oats and rice, egg whites, fruits and vegetables — especially those rich in vitamins B, C and E. Oats are particularly good in that they are also low in fat and sugar with no cholesterol or sodium.

Collectively, cholesterol lowering foods typically provide much less total fat, many more complex carbohydrates and much more protein. In the right proportions, they promote weight loss without cutting out major food groups, something that cannot be said of many of the heavily advertised, popular weight loss diets.

Some foods help the cholesterol profile by raising levels of the “good” cholesterol, HDL. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, soybean oil, avocados and walnuts raise HDL levels and even have blood thinning and antiarrhythmic properties that help maintain normal heart rhythm and lower the risks of heart problems.

Moderate consumption of alcohol will increase HDL levels (good) cholesterol.Some studies have shown that a moderate consumption of alcohol (one to two drinks per day) also leads to increased levels of HDL. However, because of the other health risks associated with alcohol consumption, doctors recommend that non-drinkers avoid starting.

Some experts suspect that high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine may promote atherosclerosis. Increasing your intake of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 can help reduce homocysteine levels. Natural sources of vitamin B are particularly helpful. They include whole grains, leafy greens, molasses, brewer’s yeast and nuts. While meats and liver are also good sources of vitamin B, they tend to be high in fat and cholesterol.

Butter is NOT Better!

The use of low cholesterol spreads in place of other spreads can lower LDL by as much as 17 percent.The consumption of plant-derived stanol and sterol esters has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. These products are available in supermarkets in the form of margarines. Currently, two brands exist: Benecol® and Take Control®.

Both Benecol and Take Control can be used in place of butter or traditional margarine in cooking, baking and as a spread. They both come in “regular” and “light” versions. According to the manufacturers, the use of these spreads in place of other spreads can lower LDL by up to 14 percent for Benecol and 17 percent for Take Control.

Food Preparation and Eating Out

Choosing better methods of food preparation can significantly reduce lipid intake. Grilling, for example, allows fats to spatter or drip away from the food instead of soaking into them. Generally, pan-frying in oil or butter should be avoided.

Smart choices can also extend to eating out. While some fast food establishments employ low fat cooking, they should be avoided unless they offer alternatives such as salads. Many restaurants, bars, kiosks and drive-ins specialize in fried foods, either pan or deep-fried. If you do choose to eat fried foods, try to select a place that employs low fat cooking.

When salad dressings are part of the meal, ask for the dressing on the side so that you have control over the quantity eaten. Many establishments accept special requests. Don’t hesitate to ask for a smaller serving or to share a dessert with a companion.

Eating well means taking charge of your eating habits, knowing what and where to eat and enlisting the support of family and friends. Making adjustments for the long term, lowering cholesterol, building a healthful diet and using low fat cooking strategies are all constructive measures that aid in preventing heart problems.

Resources

American Academy of Family Physicians. (updated 2001). Homocysteine.

Harper, C.R., Jacobson, T.A. (2001). The fats of life: The role of omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of coronary heart disease. Archives of Internal Medicine (161). 2185-2192.

Harvard Health Publications. (2002). Spreading your way to lower cholesterol.