If your doctor has recently tested your blood and told you that your cholesterol is high, there are changes you can make in your diet to help lower the level of cholesterol in your blood and decrease your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Some patients can manage their blood cholesterol with diet alone and many stop taking medications after following these tips.
WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL?
Cholesterol is a type of fat found in foods and made by our bodies for many cell functions. This means sometimes the cholesterol in our blood is high because of the food we eat and other times our cholesterol is high because our body makes too much.
Cholesterol and other forms of fat are carried through our blood stream by transporters called LIPOPROTEINS, or LDL & HDL cholesterol. LDL & HDL are made by the body and labeled as “good” or “bad” to help measure heart attack risk.
LDL refers to unhealthy blood cholesterol, which builds up if our diet is too high in certain fats. This can cause damage to arteries and build up inside blood vessels leading to blockages.
HDL refers to healthy blood cholesterol, which transports fat out of the blood stream to be broken down for energy or other cellular functions. Exercise is the best way to increase you HDL levels
There are several types of fat in our diet that contribute to raising LDL levels. The most important are SATURATED AND TRANS FATS.
Saturated and Trans fats are easy to identify because they are solid at room temperature and are found in products such as butter, lard, hydrogenated oils, cheese, meat, processed sweets, baked goods, and fried foods.
Attention! Notice coconut oil stays solid when left out? That’s because it is high in saturated fat. While it may be a better alternative to butter or lard, it should be used sparingly.
TIPS FOR LOWERING CHOLESTEROL
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Speak with your doctor, or dietitian, about your specific weight loss goals
- Eat a balanced diet including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein sources
- Eat more polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) like olive oil, walnuts, soybean oil, flax seeds, and fish.
- Incorporate more plant-based proteins into your diet such as beans, seeds, and nuts
- Eat foods high in soluble fiber such as oatmeal, bananas, apples, and beans
- READ food labels and avoid any with hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oil on the ingredient list
- Eggs are OK! Limit to 1-2 per day and avoid high cholesterol foods such as organ meats
- Limited refined carbohydrates and added sugar
- Limit alcohol intake to less than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men (one drink = 12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, or 1.5 oz liquor)
Foods to Avoid
|Whole milk, cheese, regular yogurt, and ice cream||1% or skim milk, low-fat cheese and yogurt|
|Fatty, marbled beef or pork||Lean beef, pork, or venison|
|Dark-meat or poultry with skin||White meat poultry without skin, fish|
|Butter, Margarine or Lard||Vegetable oils|
|Chips, cracker, snack foods||Unsalted nuts and seeds, hummus and vegetables|
|Soda and sugar-sweetened beverages||Water, zero-calorie seltzer|
|White bread, white rice, pasta||Whole grain bread, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta|
|Fruits and Vegetables cooked in butter, oil, or sugar||Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables without added fat or sugar|
Sample Day Meal Plan
|Breakfast: Blueberry, Vanilla Almond Oats||
|Lunch: Bean Burrito||
|Dinner: Salmon, Broccoli, & Rice||