With low cholesterol diet we mean all the foods that are recommended when your cholesterol levels are high, and those to avoid.
This a very common type of diet because high cholesterol affects more people that we imagine.
Hopefully not, but if you take a blood test you may find out that your cholesterol levels are higher than you expect (what is cholesterol?).
This happens because of different factors, but mostly because of a bad diet and a bad lifestyle.
Foods Recommended in a Low Cholesterol Diet
So now let's talk about what ultimately is most important to include in your diet if you are dealing with high cholesterol levels.
First of all, the Mediterranean diet can affect cholesterol levels positively.
These are the foods recommended by the experts to lower cholesterol naturally with diet (read more on how to lower cholesterol naturally):
- Vegetables, grains and legumes: they are friends of the heart. In fact, cholesterol is present only in foods of animal origin. When setting up a dietary plan it is good practice to focus primarily on the consumption of these plant foods. In particular, it is good to eat vegetables 2 to 4 times a week, like soybeans (able to reduce the production of cholesterol by the liver), and 2-3 servings of vegetables and two of fruit a day (which reduce calories from the habitual diet, and contain vitamins and antioxidants that reduce the overall cardiovascular risk)
- The right seasoning: cholesterol is affected by the type of fat in the diet. Saturated fats, of animal origin, cause the increase, while unsaturated fats, of vegetable origin, may lower it. In particular, avoid butter, margarine and lard in favor of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as olive oil or seed oil (soybean, sunflower, corn, peanuts). Rice oil recently appeared on the market , which has anti-cholesterol properties
- Less fat in general: when it comes to fat, you need to pay attention not only to the toppings (most toppings are rich in fat), but also to limit fat that comes naturally in foods. Sausages, cheese, eggs contain relatively high amounts of fat that adversely affect the level of cholesterol. Attention to the type of milk that you drink and to dairy products: experts recommend skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, low-fat yogurt, and - among cheeses - those with less fat
- Fibers are a major help: vegetable fiber reduces the intestinal absorption of cholesterol. This gives us more reasons to reserve the above-mentioned legumes and vegetables a place of honor in the menu, especially it is recommended to consume them raw in salads. Prefer whole grain bread, pasta and rice too, because of their higher content of fiber. Also oats, barley and spelt are recommended
- Green light for the fish: fish, for the particular composition of its fat, can be consumed even by those who have cholesterol problems. In fact, in a low cholesterol diet, experts recommend to eat fish at least 2-3 times a week, except for shellfish that should be limited to once per week. Prefer grilled, baked, steamed fish, and avoid as much as possible fried fish (and fried foods in general)
- Meat: both red and white can be part of the diet (if you can, prefer white meat), but it must be lean, and always remove visible fat. Poultry should be skinless instead.
- Cooking: prefer cooking methods like boiling, steam, microwave or grilling rather than frying
Foods to Avoid in a Low Cholesterol Diet
On the other hand even if you eat the right foods recommended above it might not be enough.
There are also some foods that need to be avoided if you want to follow the real low cholesterol diet.
Eating the recommended foods can be easy. What is usually difficult is to "fast" from junk food and all the other foods that increase cholesterol.
Unfortunately, not everything that tastes good is good for us.
To keep cholesterol levels under control, the same experts suggest to avoid:
- Animal fats such as butter, lard, cream
- Saturated vegetable oils: palm and coconut.
- Egg pasta or baked goods made with eggs. Limit your consumption of whole eggs or egg yolks to 2-3 per week (including products that contain them
- Offal (liver, brain, kidneys), sausages with a high content of saturated fat and cholesterol. Lean meats and those where you can remove the fat (ham, bacon) can be eaten up to 2 times a week in portions of 50 grams (about 3 slices of ham) for adults and 30-40 grams for children
- Whole milk, yogurt, cheese with high content of saturated fat and cholesterol
- Exotic fruits: avocado, coconut
- Alcoholic beverages (especially in case of hypercholesterolemia associated with hypertriglyceridemia)
- Coffee: the relationship between coffee and cholesterol often depends on the type of mixture and the method of preparation. Better to choose the quality arabica, the most valuable and less rich in caffeine, and do not exceed 3 cups per day. There is no evidence, whether decaffeinated coffee may have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. Coffe also increases the chances of developing joint pain (see coffee joint pain for more info).
Following a low cholesterol diet, eating the right foods and avoiding the bad ones, though, is not totally enough.
The diet plan must be supported also by a correct lifestyle if you want to increase the chances of lowering cholesterol levels, and keep them under control.
You are also supposed to:
- Quit smoking, because smoking lowers levels of "good" cholesterol (and it damages the arteries).
- Do Physical activity that increases your "good" HDL cholesterol and lower the "bad" LDL Cholesterol. Better to choose aerobic sports, such as running, cycling, dancing, swimming, football, basketball, volleyball, walking at a fast pace. Leave your car home more often, save on gas and use your legs!
- Lose excess weight, lose belly fat
- Check, with your doctor's help, any co-existing diseases, particularly hypertension and diabetes mellitus
So, this was the recommended low cholesterol diet to keep levels under control. Make it a habit, it's not something you should just do for a couple of weeks.
If you want to know more, read how to lower cholesterol naturally.
Getting used to eat right will save you lots of troubles in the future, and some headaches trying to understand the different diet types.
In fact, some foods that are recommended in the low cholesterol diet are to avoid in other types of diet, and this may be confusing.
The problems is that trying to solve a problem can enhance another...and this is why it is important to follow a healthy diet, always.
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