Why is low cholesterol essential?
Cholesterol is natural and necessary in our bodies, but having a high cholesterol level can lead to health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
It is essential to keep your cholesterol levels in a healthy range, and you can do this by changing the food you eat. Certain foods, such as dairy and meat, are very high in cholesterol, while other foods can actively lower cholesterol.
Although it is essential to maintain a low cholesterol level, it is not necessary to avoid certain foods altogether, to be conscious of how much you consume. In addition, some high cholesterol foods may have other health benefits, so they need not be avoided entirely but should be limited and managed with a well-planned and thought-through diet.
It is essential to create a well-balanced diet for overall good health.
Some people are at greater risk, mainly if there is a family history of high cholesterol levels or an unhealthy lifestyle with poor diet, smoking, and low levels of exercise. You can ask your doctor to test your cholesterol level.
Risks of high cholesterol
Having a high cholesterol diet can contribute to several health issues such as:
- high blood pressure
- weight gain
- heart attack
Types of Cholesterol
There are three types of cholesterol;
Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL):
LDL is BAD cholesterol, which can be detrimental to healthy blood flow by building plaque in the arteries.
Triglycerides are a common type of fat in the body, created by excess calories. Having too much is terrible and can lead to health issues.
High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL):
HDL is GOOD cholesterol, which can help lower LDL and Triglyceride levels in the blood and contribute to healthy cholesterol levels.
Reducing cholesterol quickly?
The best way to reduce your cholesterol levels is to alter your diet and avoid high cholesterol foods. You can speed the process by replacing these foods with a diet high in soluble fiber, Omega-3 fats, and phytosterols.
Eating foods high in soluble fiber can not only help lower your cholesterol but are generally low in saturated fat and can contribute to better health. Vegetables, grains, fruit, and nuts are all high in fiber and should make up a large proportion of a low cholesterol diet.
It is essential to have a low-fat diet to lower cholesterol. However, some fats can contribute to a healthy diet. For example, omega-3 fatty acids are primarily in seafood and avocados and can be very beneficial when lowering cholesterol.
Phytosterols are the natural cholesterol in plants and can prevent cholesterol absorption in the body. Foods like olive oil, sunflower seeds, and almonds contain phytosterols and are known by most grocery stores as heart-healthy foods.
Low cholesterol foods?
To have a low cholesterol diet, you must avoid trans and saturated fat, increasing LDL levels. So be sure to check on packaged foods for levels of these fats in the food you are buying.
Dairy and meats are particularly bad for lowering cholesterol, so you should avoid these or limit your intake of these foods. You can also try replacing high fat, processed meats and dairy with low fat and grass-fed alternatives.
Many alternatives are available, so you can still make your favorite meals with a much lower impact on your health!
Most grocery stores will stock healthier alternatives. Be aware of what to look out for and avoid when grocery shopping.
Try making healthy food swaps to incorporate low-fat, low cholesterol foods into your diet. Here are some ideas for how to reduce high cholesterol;
- For breakfast, try eating oats and fresh fruit, particularly bananas and apples, as these foods are high in fiber and low in fat.
- Instead of scrambled eggs, try having an egg-white omelet
- Replace white bread and rice with whole wheat
- Replace processed or red meat with fish high in Omega-3, such as salmon
- Try meat-free alternatives, such as tofu or soy patties.
Snacks to reduce cholesterol?
Everybody enjoys a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps as a mid-afternoon snack. However, these foods are high in trans fats and added sugar. Neither of these will help with lowering cholesterol or losing weight.
There are plenty of foods that contain monounsaturated fats and fewer calories that can be a healthy alternative to fight those snack cravings.
The good news is, you can still eat chocolate! Try replacing milk chocolate with dark chocolate, high in cocoa, as this helps increase the HDL in your body.
Nuts are also a good snack alternative, particularly walnuts, cashews, and almonds, and can help lower your cholesterol naturally. However, nuts tend to be high in calories, so avoid eating large servings.
Seeds, particularly sunflower and chia seeds, can help lower LDL levels in your body. They are also a good source of fiber and Omega-3.
Types of fats
Saturated fat is very much linked to high LDL levels and, therefore, a substantial contributory factor to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Consequently, it is recommended that we consume no more than 10% of our daily calories in saturated fats. So, an adult whose daily calorie intake is 2000 shouldn’t consume more than 20 grams of saturated fats.
Make sure you check food packaging for levels of saturated fat. In addition, it is advisable to keep track of your daily intake and avoid high-fat foods.
Trans fats are an even worse contributor to high cholesterol than saturated fat and are most commonly found in deep-fried, processed, and fast food. These foods are best avoided generally for a healthy lifestyle, increasing weight gain and health risks.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats:
“good fats” are found in seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. Replacing food high in saturated fat with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats can significantly reduce health risks such as heart disease. Omega-3 is an example of polyunsaturated fat.
Shopping for a low cholesterol grocery list?
When you write your low cholesterol shopping list, think about recipes you are used to making and searching for healthier alternatives to replace foods high in fat, sugar, and salt.
- Ensure to check the packaging for foods that have little or no added sugar and salt
- Replace white rice with brown rice or quinoa
- Replace white bread with whole wheat bread
- Replace pork bacon with turkey bacon
- Replace meat with tofu
- Replace whole fat milk with low fat or almond milk
- Replace potato chips with pretzels (common salt)
- Replace coconut oil with olive oil
- Replace cheese with a low-fat alternative
- Replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate
- Replace breakfast cereal with oatmeal
- Try roasting instead of frying meats
- Use plenty of garlic
Aiming for a healthier life
Reducing the level of cholesterol in your diet will have numerous health benefits. Your risk of severe health issues will decrease, and it may also help you lose weight.
Remember to have regular checkups with your doctor if you risk having high cholesterol and aim to maintain a healthy diet.
You don’t need to remove all of your favorite foods from your diet, but with some mindful planning and making some healthy changes to your favorite recipes, you can quickly reduce your high cholesterol while still enjoying your meals!