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.
Foods That Help Lower Your Cholesterol
From chocolate and red wine to beans and legumes, food and drink can help you get your cholesterol levels down.
My patients often ask me if there are any foods that can help with reducing high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This is the so-called “bad” cholesterol that can cause plaque to form in your coronary artery walls, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. My answer is a qualified “yes,” since high LDL can be the result of many factors, including poor genes, obesity, and lack of exercise. For this reason, not everyone will react to dietary changes the same way, and optimal LDL levels are different for every individual.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body uses to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest food. At normal levels, its essential for health, but if the concentration in the blood becomes too high, LDL, the so-called “bad” cholesterol can build up in your arteries forming plaques that put you at risk for cardiovascular disease, including chest pain , heart attack, and stroke.
Frequently, too much LDL is the result of a diet rich in saturated fats and trans fats . Eliminating these foods from your diet is a good first step in improving your LDL. Then try adding some or all of the following LDL-lowering foods every day. If you’re already on a statin, dietary changes may help you reduce your dosage, but never reduce or stop taking a statin drug without first consulting your doctor.
Add These Foods To Lower Ldl Cholesterol
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.
1. Oats. An easy first step to lowering your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber.
2. Barley and other whole grains. Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.
3. Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food.
4. Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.
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Why Is There Good And Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a powerful building block in our body.
It is composed of a waxy substance that helps makeup cell walls, absorb vitamins and minerals, and regulate hormones.
We need cholesterol to live optimally.
In fact, the body makes cholesterol on its own due to the high demand for this molecule in our body.
Cholesterol often acts as a transporter.
There are two main types of transportation that cholesterol can do.
The first is from the liver to the bloodstream.
This pumps healthy building blocks to the body to help build healthy cells.
LDL cholesterol is the type that carries cholesterol throughout the body.
It transports nutrients from the liver to the cells in the body.
Elevated LDL cholesterol is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
HDL cholesterol acts as a transporter from the cells back to the liver.
This type of cholesterol is often thought of as the clean up crew.
Because it is transporting cholesterol and excess molecules back to the liver to be excreted via bile acids, HDL is beneficial.
Saturated And Unsaturated Fat
There are 2 main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Eating too many foods high in saturated fat can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood.
Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- meat pies
- cakes and biscuits
- foods containing coconut or palm oil
Eating foods that contain unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat can actually help reduce cholesterol levels.
Try to replace foods containing saturated fats with small amounts of foods high in unsaturated fats, such as:
- oily fish such as mackerel and salmon
- nuts such as almonds and cashews
- seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- vegetable oils and spreads such as rapeseed or vegetable oil, sunflower, olive, corn and walnut oils
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Apples: Rich In Fiber And Beneficial Antioxidants
As with beans, apples are an excellent source of LDL-lowering soluble fiber, primarily pectin. Research published in December 2014 in the European Journal of Nutrition also shows that eating an apple a day can slow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This health benefit comes thanks to antioxidant polyphenols found primarily in apple skin . Antioxidants are important because inflammation and plaque buildup in the arteries are more likely to occur when LDL cholesterol interacts with free radicals and becomes oxidized.
Cook Fresh Vegetables The Heart
Try cooking vegetables in a tiny bit of vegetable oil and add a little water during cooking, if needed. Just one or two teaspoons of oil is enough for a package of plain frozen vegetables that serves four. Place the vegetables in a skillet with a tight cover and cook them over very low heat until done.
Add herbs and spices to make vegetables even tastier. For example, these combinations add subtle and surprising flavors:
- Rosemary with peas, cauliflower and squash
- Oregano with zucchini
- Basil with tomatoes
Start with a small quantity of herbs and spices , then let your familys feedback be your guide. Chopped parsley and chives, sprinkled on just before serving, can also enhance the flavor of many vegetables.
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What Is Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber provides the greatest heart-health benefits. It helps lower total and LDL cholesterol levels by binding to bile in the gut and removing it with the body’s waste. Bile is made up of cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include:
- Oats and oat bran.
- Apples, bananas, pears and citrus fruits.
- Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, squash.
Whole Grains And Other High
Fiber-packed whole grains, including oats, barley and oat bran, can all help keep your cholesterol levels in check. These foods feature soluble fiber, which can also help reduce the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs.
Try switching up your breakfast routine with different takes on oatmeal by adding various healthy toppings like fruit, nuts or honey. Or, you can swap out your rice side dish for barley.
Aim for 5 to 10 grams of high-fiber foods every day, making sure to mix in other fiber-full ingredients like bananas, pears, berries, apples and beans.
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Increase Consumption Of Fish And Plant
As previously mentioned, many foods that reduce cholesterol are found in plants. A diet focusing on loweringLDL cholesterol encourages increasing the frequency of plant-based or fish-based meals in your diet. By doing so, it does not mean you have to commit to a vegetarian, pescatarian or vegan lifestyle it simply encourages reducing the consumption of unhealthy saturated and trans fats that come from animal products, such as red meat, and increasing consumption of healthy unsaturated and polysaturated fats like fish. Fish contains several compounds, including polyunsaturated fats, that help lower cholesterol.
In order to increase your healthy fats, focus on creating meals that contain beans, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Adding fish to plant-based meals is often referred to as a Mediterranean or pescatarian diet and increases your intake of healthy fats. Picking low carb, low cholesterol foods can also be beneficial for controlling blood sugar, but dont feel like you need to completely remove carbs from your diet. Moderation is key.
Foods That Lower Cholesterol
No doubt about it, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory vegetables are one of the most high-antioxidant foods available. Loaded with phytochemicals that fight free radical damage, they slow down the aging process and keep arteries flexible and healthy. Many dark leafy greens, like spinach and kale, contain very few calories but offer protection against heart attacks by helping artery walls stay clear of cholesterol buildup.
While nearly every type is a good choice, vegetables including benefit-rich beets, onions, cabbage, broccoli and artichokes are especially useful for upping your fiber intake and protecting heart health.
Nuts of all kinds make a good source of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They also provide a decent amount of fiber. Certain nuts, including almonds, specifically supply antioxidant flavonoids, plant-based compounds that improve artery health and reduce inflammation.
Studies show nuts can lower bad LDL levels, especially in individuals with high cholesterol and diabetes. They can help prevent damage from forming within artery walls and protect against dangerous cholesterol plaque buildup, in addition to fighting weight gain and obesity.
3. Chia Seeds and Flaxseeds
4. Olive Oil
7. Gluten-Free Whole Grains/Ancient Grains
8. Green Tea
9. Beans and Legumes
12. Sweet Potatoes
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How Is Cholesterol Measured
Most people with high cholesterol feel perfectly well and often have no symptoms. The best way to find out if your cholesterol is high is to have a blood test .
Visit your GP to determine whether you need to lower your cholesterol level and what action to take.
GPs can also do a heart health check, that calculates your heart disease and stroke risk.
No Apparent Danger Of Very Low Ldl Cholesterol
LDL is a key component of many hormones and all cell membranes, which allow cells to communicate with each other. Earlier studies had raised concerns that lowering LDL too far might interfere with normal cellular functions, especially in organs that have higher lipid concentrations, such as the brain and reproductive organs. And there have been reports of a slightly increased risk of osteoporosis and brain bleeding in patients treated with high doses of statin medications.
Well-known side effects in people who use statin medications include muscle aches and a slightly increased risk of diabetes, especially when high doses of medication are used. Whether these risks are due to the statin medications themselves or the lowering of LDL is not entirely clear.
However, people with rare inherited disorders in which LDL levels are extremely low from birth appear to have normal fertility and no major organ dysfunction. Therefore, an extremely low LDL by itself does not appear to be dangerous in these unusual cases.
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Dark Chocolate And Cocoa
Cocoa is the main ingredient of dark chocolate. It may seem too good to be true, but research proves that cocoa can lower bad LDL cholesterol . In one study, healthy adults drank a cocoa drink every day for a month. They reduced bad LDL cholesterol of 0.17 mmol/l . Their blood pressure also decreased, and their good HDL cholesterol increased.
Chocolate is often high in sugar. So, you should eat chocolate with cocoa . Or choose dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is chocolate with a cocoa content of 75%-85%.
Fruits Vegetables Beans Whole Grains
And theres really no need to count up fiber grams. If you fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal, as we teach at Pritikin, youre well on your way to getting enough. Add in whole grains like barley and brown rice and at least one serving every day of beans or bean-derived foods like tofu, and youre there!
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Top 14 Foods That Lower Cholesterol
Cholesterol is often one of the most misunderstood aspects of heart health. For many people, loading up on the foods that lower cholesterol brings to mind low-fat meals that lack flavor. However, as youll come to see, this couldnt be further from the truth!
When it comes to lowering high cholesterol naturally, though, strictly avoiding all fats and following a low cholesterol diet is not the answer. Even totally avoiding foods that contain cholesterol itself isnt necessary either. Its all about moderation and balance eating a combination of nutrient-dense foods that fight inflammation and tackle the root of the problem.
Youll be happy to know that these foods that lower cholesterol levels include all sorts of great-tasting fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, lean meats and plenty of nutritious sources of fat, too, making it easier than ever to follow a heart-healthy diet.
Minimize Foods That Raise Blood Cholesterol
Eat far fewer :
- Saturated-fat-rich foods such as butter, tropical oils like coconut oil, fatty meats, and dairy foods like cheese, cream, and whole/low-fat milk
- Organ meats
- Processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and bologna
- Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Cholesterol-rich foods like egg yolks.
Have you recently heard in the news that egg yolks are okay? Dont believe it, cautions Kimberly Gomer, Director of Nutrition and Educator at Pritikin. Egg yolks are not okay, as this review by faculty at Pritikin elucidates.
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Triglycerides In Your Blood
In addition to cholesterol, your blood also contains a type of fat called triglycerides, which are stored in your bodys fat deposits. Hormones release triglycerides to make energy between meals.
When you eat, your body converts any extra energy it doesnt need right away into triglycerides.
Like cholesterol, your body needs triglycerides to work properly. However, there is evidence to suggest that some people with high triglycerides are at increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
If you regularly eat more energy than you need, you may have high triglycerides .
Healthy Eating Tips To Lower Cholesterol
As well as sticking to a varied and healthy diet, try these tips to help you manage your cholesterol:
- Limit takeaway foods to once a week .
- Limit salty, fatty and sugary snack foods to once a week .
- Eat plenty of vegetables aim for 5 serves of vegetables every day. .
- Choose wholegrain breads, cereal, pasta, rice and noodles.
- Snack on plain, unsalted nuts and fresh fruit .
- Include legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, split peas), beans into at least two meals a week. Check food labels and choose the lowest sodium products.
- Use spreads and margarines made from healthy unsaturated fats instead of those made with saturated fat .
- Use healthy oils for cooking some include canola, sunflower, soybean, olive , sesame and peanut oils.
- Use salad dressings and mayonnaise made from oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean, olive , sesame and peanut oils.
- Include 2 or 3 serves of plant-sterol-enriched foods every day .
- Have 2 to 3 portions of oily fish every week. Fish may be fresh, frozen or canned.
- Include up to 7 eggs every week.
- Select lean meat and limit unprocessed red meat to less than 350g per week.
- Choose reduced fat, no added sugar milk, yoghurt, or calcium-added non-dairy food and drinks.
- Limit or avoid processed meats including sausages and deli meats .
If you are having trouble with your cholesterol levels, a dietitian can help you to eat healthily for your specific needs.
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Increase The Amount Of Fiber In Your Diet
Most of us do not get enough fiber in our diet. The recommended amount is 25-35 grams of dietary fiber per day. Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. As fiber passes through the body, it affects the way the body digests foods and absorbs nutrients. Fiber can help reduce your LDL cholesterol level. A fiber-rich diet can also help control blood sugar, promote regularity, prevent gastrointestinal disease and help you manage your weight.
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of all high-fiber foods. Refined foods, like white bread, white pasta and enriched cereals are low in fiber. The refining process strips the outer coat from the grain, which reduces the amount of fiber that’s left.
The best sources of fiber are whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes .
How Can I Lower Cholesterol With Diet
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a diet to lower your cholesterol. The DASH eating plan is one example. Another is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, which recommends that you
Choose healthier fats.You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35% of your daily calories should come from dietary fats, and less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending upon how many calories you eat per day, here are the maximum amounts of fats that you should eat:
|Calories per Day|
|69-97 grams||17 grams|
Saturated fat is a bad fat because it raises your LDL level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
Trans fat is another bad fat it can raise your LDL and lower you HDL . Trans fat is mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries.
Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.
Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include
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