How to Lower Cholesterol With Diet
Cholesterol is important for producing vitamin D, hormones and bile acids. While some cholesterol is essential, too much can increase your risk of serious health problems. Fortunately, you can take control of your cholesterol and make dietary changes to maintain healthy levels. In this article, we cover how to lower cholesterol with diet. This means we will be talking about foods to avoid, as well as foods that can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is made in the body. There are two main forms of cholesterol.
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL)
This form of cholesterol is carried to the arteries and tissues in the body. It is commonly called “bad” cholesterol since it can increase a person’s risk of health problems.
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL)
This type of cholesterol is “good” because it helps lower levels of LDL cholesterol and may decrease your risk of heart disease.
In some cases, lifestyle factors and genetics may cause the body to produce excess LDL cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol can have an adverse effect on your health.
When too much LDL cholesterol is in the blood, the excess may buildup in the arteries. The buildup is referred to as plaque, which causes the blood vessels to become stiff and narrow.
The plaque can accumulate in any blood vessel in the body. Eventually, it can interfere with proper blood flow to the organs and lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol in itself does not have symptoms. This means many people may not even know their cholesterol levels is too high, which is why it is essential to have your cholesterol checked regularly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthy adults should have their cholesterol levels checked about every 4 to 6 years. People with risk factors for high cholesterol, such as family history, may require more frequent testing.
Cholesterol and Food
Certain things increase a person’s risk of developing high LDL cholesterol, such as a person’s age, sex and genetics. But there are also risk factors that you can control. One of the main ways you can control high LDL cholesterol is by eating a healthy diet.
Foods to Avoid
Certain types of food may increase the risk of high LDL cholesterol. Foods that are high in trans fats or saturated fat may raise cholesterol and should be limited or avoided. Foods to avoid:
- Packages cakes and cookies
- Fried foods
According to the American Heart Association, it is also helpful to limit dairy products made with whole milk and red meat.
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Foods to Eat
There are several types of foods to eat that help promote the removal of LDL cholesterol from the body:
Avocadoes are a good source of monounsaturated fats, which is thought to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, while also raising HDL (good) cholesterol. Add avocadoes to sandwiches, salad and soup.
Oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber, which decreases the absorption of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Other good sources of fiber include kidney beans, apples and most vegetables.
Strawberries contain a type of fiber called pectin, which helps to lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Strawberries are easy to incorporate into your diet. Add some to smoothies and salads.
Salmon is a fatty fish that contains omega 3 fatty acids, which may decrease triglycerides and overall LDL cholesterol in the body.
Green and Black Tea
Green and black tea contain compounds, including catechins and quercetin. Catechins inhibit cholesterol synthesis, and quercetin may lower inflammation in the vessels, which improves overall blood vessel function.
Tips for Maintaining a Diet to Lower Cholesterol
When it comes to lowering cholesterol levels with diet, knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid is only half the battle. The other part is sticking with it. Consider the following tips to help you stay the course:
Eat a Variety of Foods
Try to incorporate several different types of healthy foods into your diet. Adding a variety of foods may help prevent you from getting bored with your food and reaching for something unhealthy.
Try Different Cooking Methods
If you always prepare your food the same way, you might start getting bored with your meals. This makes it harder to stick with your plan. Try preparing food by baking, broiling and grilling.
Set a Goal
Set a goal to keep you motivated, such as lowering your cholesterol by 10 points in 6 months. Plan a reward when you reach your goals, such as a massage or a new outfit.
Download an App
There are several different apps that keep track of the food you eat and let you know how much saturated and trans fat you are eating. Keeping track of how much cholesterol you are eating each day is the first step in reducing the amount.
Get Your Family Involved
It can be hard to stick to a healthy eating plan if the people around you are snacking on junk food. Let your family and friends know about your new diet. Consider getting them on board to make some changes in their diet.