Eating A Cholesterol Lowering Diet For Heart Disease Prevention

Author: Andrew Bicknell

Balancing the ratios of LDL and HDL cholesterol is the aim of any cholesterol lowering diet because lowering the bad (LDL) cholesterol is a large factor in reducing the risk of coronary artery disease. The effect of lowering cholesterol has been medically shown to reduce the mortality risk associated with heart disease.

Cholesterol levels, which are measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), naturally rise as men and women age and are determined through chemical analysis of a blood sample taken via a finger prick or from a blood draw from a vein. For a healthy person cholesterol intake should less than 300 milligrams daily while someone with an elevated cholesterol level should consume less than 200 milligrams per day. One thing to remember is that although dietary cholesterol can raise your blood cholesterol levels, the bigger culprit in elevated cholesterol levels is saturated fat. Foods that originate from animals are the only source of dietary cholesterol.

The basis of a cholesterol lowering diet revolves around eating a mostly plant based diet rich in cholesterol-lowering foods. In fact this approach has been shown to as effective as using statin drugs to lower cholesterol. This was proved out during a recent study showing that people who ate a rich diet of cholesterol lowering foods, such as soy protein, almonds, plant sterol-enriched margarines and natural fiber from oats, psyllium, okra, and eggplant for one year resulted in a 20% decrease in cholesterol, which is comparable to taking statins.

After starting a cholesterol lowering diet your levels will generally begin to recede after two to three weeks. When starting this type of diet the first thing you need to do is increase your fiber intake. This can be done by increasing the amounts of fruits, lots of vegetables, and whole grain products. The other thing that needs to be closely watched is the intake of saturated fat.

The reason for this is simple; nothing increases cholesterol levels quite like saturated fat. There are four main types of fat. The first two increase LDL cholesterol and need to be avoided.

1. Saturated fat found in most animal products, fast foods, and some vegetables should be avoided or at the least limited. Saturated vegetable fats include hydrogenated shortening, palm oil, coconut oil, and cocoa butter.

2. Hydrogenated or Trans-Fat is found in margarine and vegetable shortening.

The two fats that can be eaten in moderation and can help decrease total cholesterol and keep levels of the good cholesterol (HDL) high include:

3. Monounsaturated Fat is found in olive and canola oil.

4. Polyunsaturated Fat is found in safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn and sesame oils.

The best foods for a cholesterol lowering diet are high in starch and fiber and are a good substitute for foods that contain high amounts of saturated fat. You do have to be careful because although foods from plants do not contain cholesterol some do contain saturated fat, such as avocados. Recently the American Heart Association began to recommend that people who have high LDL cholesterol eat foods fortified with plant sterols. These foods that have been fortified with sterols or stanols help block the body\'s absorption of cholesterol.

The thing to remember when undertaking a cholesterol lowering diet is that foods that contain high amounts of complex carbohydrates, if eaten plain, are low in saturated fat and cholesterol and contain the vitamins, minerals, and fiber you body needs. A healthy diet is the first step to successfully lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease that is associated with high levels.

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