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Can Plant Based Diet Lower Cholesterol

How Is Cholesterol Level Measured

High Cholesterol – Causes Of High Cholesterol On A Plant Based Diet

A simple blood test is used to determine blood cholesterol levels. Your GP or practise nurse will collect a blood sample, generally by pricking your finger, or you may be asked to go to your local hospital for a blood test. Your blood is then tested for levels of good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.

Cholesterol and triglycerides are measured in millimoles per litre of blood, which is commonly abbreviated as mmol/Litre ormmol/L. In general, the goal for a healthy heart is to have a low non-HDL level and a greater HDL level. If you have been informed that you have high cholesterol, this means that you have an excess of bad cholesterol in your system, which raises your chance of having a heart attack.

The #1 Cause Of Death In The Us Is Preventable

Do you or anyone you know has high cholesterol, heart disease,;or maybe has even suffered from a heart attack or had bypass surgery? I hope youll share this with them. It very well could save their life.;

And if youd like to check out the meal plans that Karen and Raul used to lower their cholesterol, you can find them right here. If you can afford to consult your doctor and get a blood test before you start and after a week or month of eating plant-based, I encourage you to, and Id love to hear how;your;health changes!;

Cover photo from;The information presented in this article is not to be construed as medical advice or used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease.;This article contains Amazon affiliate links, and shopping through these links supports World of Vegan!

The Good And The Bad: Hdl Vs Ldl Cholesterol

Two different types of lipoproteins transport cholesterol around the body:

  • High-density lipoproteins, or HDL, are considered healthy.
  • And low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, are the problematic ones that can drop cholesterol right into the bloodstream, which then makes its way to develop plaque on artery walls.

Why is LDL so problematic? The plaque that they form on arteries builds up over time and eventually narrows the pathways, making blood flow more difficult over time. Ultimately, that pressure can make artery walls rupture, leading to blood clots that can block blood flow, partially or entirely.;

Blocked arteries are the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes, depending on where the blood blockage exists.

Sometimes, your LDL may be in the normal range and still be problematic for your body. That’s because not only do overall levels matter, but so do the balance of the two. If you don’t have too much LDL in the body, but your good cholesterol levels are too low, it can cause an unhealthy imbalance.;

The best time to start caring for your cholesterol levels is before they become a problem it’s never too early to begin monitoring your cholesterol and keeping your overall intake low.

Also Check: How Much Cholesterol In Shrimp

Eating More Good Fats

When we say good fat, we’re talking about monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Foods such as olives, olive oil, avocados, as well as tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and cashews all contain these types of good fat. According to Healthline, monounsaturated fats reduce LDL levels while increasing HDL to heart-healthy levels. These fats also clear arteries of the plaque created by excess LDL cholesterol.

What Foods Decrease Risk Of High Cholesterol


Randomized clinical trials have shown specific foods that lower cholesterol levels. The Portfolio diet combined four of these foods, each with a different mechanism of action, to get maximum cholesterol lowering results 7. The four cholesterol-lowering food components of the Portfolio diet are:

  • Soluble fibre
  • Nuts
  • Plant sterols
  • A fifth food, legumes, are not specifically included in the Portfolio diet but legumes have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels 14.

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    What Is The Ideal Cholesterol Level

    The ideal blood cholesterol level is below 150;milligrams per deciliter , based on the results of the Framingham Heart Study and other research. At that level, heart disease is very unlikely. Unfortunately, nearly 107 million Americans have cholesterol levels that are greater than 200 mg/dL, which is dangerously close to 225 mg/dLthe average cholesterol level of coronary artery disease victims.

    Study Characteristics And Quality

    Observational studies.

    The 30 observational studies included 10143 participants with a mean age of 40.6 years . Each of the 30 observational studies used a cross-sectional design. In 23 of these studies, participants had been following vegetarian diets for more than 1 year.,,,, Eight studies focused on vegan diets,,,,,,,, 12 on lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets,,,,,,,,, and 10 on mixed diet types .,,,,,,, The matched or adjusted factors in each study are shown in .

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    How Long Does It Take To Lower Cholesterol


    Your cholesterol levels are directly tied to your heart health, which is why its so important to make sure theyre in a healthy range. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , reports that 78 million adults in the United States had high levels of low-density lipoprotein , or bad cholesterol, in 2012. The organization also states that people with high LDL cholesterol are at a much higher risk of heart disease.

    Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Womens Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center, says it can take between three to six months to see lower LDL numbers through just diet and exercise, noting that it takes longer to see changes in women than men.

    Read on for more information on how to lower your LDL levels.

    Putting Together A Low Cholesterol Diet

    How Long Does It Take On A Plant-Based Diet To Lower Your Cholesterol? by Caldwell Esselstyn

    When it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.

    A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The key dietary components are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants. Add margarine enriched with plant sterols; oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber; soy protein; and whole almonds.

    Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin. It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors. But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.

    Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental health.

    Read Also: Is Bone Marrow High In Cholesterol

    Are Vegans Affected By Cholesterol Issues

    The short answer is yes! Some people think that vegans dont need to worry about their cholesterol levels because they dont consume dietary cholesterol, which is found in animal products. In reality, there are many dietary and non-dietary factors that affect our risk of high cholesterol, including some that we cant influence like our age, family background and genes. ;

    Its becoming increasingly easy for vegans to consume diets high in saturated fat, which can lead to high cholesterol. This is partly due to the popularity of coconut products and heavy use of saturated fats like coconut, palm and shea oils in the manufacturer of some vegan alternatives, such as plant-based butter and cheese and some convenience foods. Eating these products regularly can have a significant effect on the overall quality of our diets because they tend to add saturated fat, sugar and salt and push out healthier choices. ;

    Regarding the wider aspects of heart health, vitamin B12 is a nutrient to consider. This is because low B12 status can result in a high homocysteine level, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Make sure that your vegan diet follows our guidelines about B12-fortified foods or supplementation.;

    Which Foods Lower Cholesterol

    A healthy vegan diet low in saturated fats is excellent for lowering cholesterol in general. But there are a few foods that can be extra helpful:

    • Oats and other sources of beta-glucans, such as barley and mushrooms. Beta-glucans are a specific type of fibre that is very effective at lowering cholesterol levels16.
    • Wholegrains Wholemeal bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa or muesli are excellent sources of fibre helping to keep your cholesterol in check.
    • Fruit and vegetables at least five portions a day. They provide essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants important for healthy blood vessels, healthy energy and are also great sources of fibre.
    • Nuts and seeds especially those high in omega-3 fats, such as walnuts, hempseed, flaxseed, chia seeds.
    • Soya Soya protein actually helps to actively lower your cholesterol levels. The intake of around 25 grams of soya protein daily has been identified as an effective dose17. A couple of servings of soya foods is enough to provide this amount tofu, tempeh, soya-based mock meats, soya milk or yoghurts, etc.
    • Beans, lentils and chickpeas These low-fat, high-fibre sources of protein are excellent for your heart. They take a while for the body to digest, preventing over-eating while providing healthy energy, fibre and a number of essential minerals.

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    Summary: Cholesterol And A Vegan Diet

    High cholesterol is both preventable and manageable through lifestyle changes . Medication may still be required for some people . Lowering intake of trans fats and saturated fats while increasing intake of soluble fiber, soy protein, nuts, plant sterols and legumes is demonstrated in research studies to be effective in lowering cholesterol levels. Vegan diets are commonly high in these health-promoting foods and a transition to focusing on eating these plant-based foods could be helpful for cholesterol management.

    Dietary changes are challenging so working with a Registered Dietitian can be extremely helpful in making and sustaining lifestyle changes for long-term health.

    Lifestyle Changes Vs Medication For Cholesterol Management

    How a plant

    Firstly, do not stop taking medications or make changes to your diet without consulting your doctor first. Cholesterol lowering medications can be life-saving.

    Rather than questioning your doctor about the need for cholesterol medications, I think a better question would be to ask about the lifestyle changes that have been shown to improve cholesterol levels. In particular, a request to be referred to a Registered Dietitian could be a great way to go about safely implementing dietary changes.

    Unfortunately doctors dont have a lot of time to spend with patients. Lifestyle changes are hard and require specialized support. If possible, work with a Registered Dietitian to make sustainable lifestyle changes.

    Again, let me be clear, while the lifestyle and dietary changes noted above are backed by research, they are not intended to replace cholesterol lowering medications unless youve explicitly discussed it with your doctor first.

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    What Is Cholesterol And Why Is It Important

    Cholesterol is a type of fat molecule found in the bloodstream. There are two primary sources of the cholesterol floating through the body we create most in our livers, and the rest comes from our diet, which is called dietary cholesterol.;

    Though we usually hear about cholesterol in the context of it being bad for us, cholesterol helps our bodies perform a number of essential functions, like cell division and vitamin and hormone synthesis.

    Our livers make enough cholesterol to support our body function, so technically, scientists don’t consider it an essential nutrient we can physically survive and thrive without consuming any cholesterol at all. However, the diet would be pretty restrictive.;

    Some cholesterol in the blood is entirely normal. Still, when that level raises above the healthy range, it can increase your chances of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and stroke.;

    Most All Nuts And Seeds


    Aside from walnuts, most all nuts and seeds are also high in certain fats known as mono-unsaturated fats that lower bad cholesterol. They also provide anti-inflammatory support and contain antioxidants that support overall heart health. As a bonus, these foods are also good sources of plant-based protein;and they support collagen production in the body to fight the effects of aging.;;A little goes a long way, so enjoy 1/4 cup a day to gain the benefits. Try them in some raw energy bars or toss a few into your next smoothie or breakfast bowl.

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    Lower Cholesterol Naturally With A Plant Based Diet

    These are my current cholesterol levels gained by eating a plant based diet:

    This Harvard publication lists my LDL level in the range our my hunter-gatherer ancestors.

    I lowered my cholesterol naturally by eating a whole food plant based diet based on this foods in this nutritional guide. This nutritional food guide contains foods that will help you to lower-cholesterol quickly and is an alkaline diet which raises the alkalinity level in the body to support healthy living.

    Stuck With Statins Try A Plant

    Vegans Starting To Get High Cholesterol?! Why?

    The solution to a lifetime of statins could lie in a diet based on vegetables, whole grains, beans and fruit.

    The medical community recommends statins as a front-line treatment for high cholesterol levels that may also cut your chances of having a heart attack. Yet studies show that other cholesterol-lowering strategies, including dietary changes, reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event just as well as statins.

    An additional benefit of eating better is avoiding the side effects of statins, which include an increased risk of developing diabetes and, in many people, muscle weakness and pain.

    Read Also: Are Baked Potatoes High In Cholesterol

    The Problem With Too Much Cholesterol

    Dietary cholesterol comes primarily from sources of saturated fats, like meat and other animal-based products.;

    The double-whammy with cholesterol is that by eating a diet high in saturated fat intake, you consume more cholesterol, and these foods make your liver produce more cholesterol, too! This increased production and consumption turns into high cholesterol levels in the body pretty quickly.;

    The Best Plant Sterols For Lowering Cholesterol

    Over 100 clinical studies have demonstrated that plant sterols and stanols can significantly reduce blood cholesterol, which is why physicians around the world recommend them. Plant sterols can reduce LDL cholesterol by 5-15% in as little as 4-6 weeks.

    It is recommended that you consume at least 2 grams of plant sterols per day including those that are part of your regular diet and from dietary supplements or supplemented foods.

    There are three primary ways to consume enough plants sterols to lower your cholesterol:

    • Foods naturally high in plant sterols
    • Foods with added plant sterols
    • Dietary supplements

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    May Reverse Heart Disease

    A plant-based diet may also have cardiovascular benefits, according to Hever. A plant-based diet is the only eating pattern that has been associated with reversing advanced-stage cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

    Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, with one in every four deaths attributed to it per year. Coronary artery disease is the most common type, causing decreased blood flow to the heart.

    Sterols Stanols And Cholesterol


    Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your liver makes. It protects nerves and makes cell tissues and certain hormones. You also get it from eating foods such as eggs, meat, and dairy products. Your body needs cholesterol, but too much of it can pose serious health risks, such as heart disease and stroke.

    There are several types of cholesterol. These are the main two:

    • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. If you have too much LDL , you put yourself at risk for heart disease. It can clog your arteries.
    • High-density lipoprotein . High levels of HDL are a sign of health. HDL can help protect arteries and prevent fatty deposits that could clog them.

    Sterols and stanols have a similar molecular structure to cholesterol. Thatâs how these plant compounds get in the way when your digestive system tries to absorb cholesterol. So instead of going into your bloodstream where it can clog arteries, the cholesterol leaves your body as waste. This lowers your cholesterol level.

    In fact, when you get enough sterols and stanols in your diet, you can lower your total cholesterol by up to 10% and LDL cholesterol by up to 14%. Theyâre a key addition to a healthy diet.

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    Our Dietitian Heather Gives You The Lowdown On Vegan Diets And Cholesterol For National Cholesterol Month

    This year, the theme of HEART UKs National Cholesterol Month is Lets Talk About Cholesterol. This got me thinking about how vegans might be affected by issues relating to cholesterol and heart health. Its also a great opportunity to introduce some new resources geared towards people with high cholesterol.;

    Lowering Cholesterol On A Vegan Diet

    A vegan lifestyle is trending in the United States, because of the cholesterol imbalance rising as a major health issue. Vegans include foods in their meals to keep their heart-healthy. The risk factors of saturated fat found in animal products and the high levels of cholesterol resulting from them, add to why one should consume a plant-based diet. A healthy lifestyle goes along with smooth blood flow. So, it is vital to check the total cholesterol levels before consumption. This article discusses several health benefits of a vegan diet, and how a plant-based diet shields vegans from a heart attack or stroke.;;

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