High cholesterol is common among people who eat unhealthy foods. This article will show you how to reduce your cholesterol by choosing the best diet plan for high cholesterol!
High cholesterol is a serious health problem leading to heart disease and other health complications. If you have high cholesterol, it’s important to make diet changes to help lower your levels. A diet plan for high cholesterol can help you lose weight and keep your cholesterol under control.
What is high cholesterol, and what are the risks associated with it
Cholesterol is a type of lipid (fat) found in the blood. It helps build and maintain cells, nerves, and hormones. Cholesterol travels in your blood on proteins called “lipoproteins.” Your body uses lipoproteins to transport cholesterol to cells throughout your body. The two main types of lipoproteins are:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – LDL is sometimes called “bad cholesterol” because it contributes to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that narrows the arteries and makes them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, a heart attack or stroke can result.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is sometimes called “good cholesterol” because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. HDL cholesterol is beneficial because it helps protect against heart disease.
What are the symptoms of high cholesterol?
There are usually no symptoms of high cholesterol. That’s why it’s essential to have your cholesterol levels checked regularly. However, some people may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or a heart attack.
The only way to know if you have high cholesterol is to have your cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked regularly. This is as simple as a blood test called a lipid profile or lipid panel, which measures the amounts of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.
You should have your cholesterol levels checked every 5 years from 45 (or earlier if you have other risk factors). If you’re at high risk of heart disease, you may need to be screened more often.
How is high cholesterol diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose high cholesterol by performing a blood test. The test measures the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
High cholesterol is often discovered when your doctor tests your blood during a routine medical exam.
High cholesterol can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. The test, usually done after you fast for nine to 12 hours, measures your blood’s level of different fats (lipids).
The main types of lipids in your blood are:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol
What are the treatments for high cholesterol?
If you have high cholesterol, your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, to help lower your levels. In addition, you may need medication to help control your cholesterol.
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to help lower your cholesterol levels, including:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting alcohol consumption
If lifestyle changes alone don’t lower your cholesterol levels enough, your doctor may prescribe medication. Medications used to treat high cholesterol include statins, bile acid sequestrants, nicotinic acid, and fibric acids.
Your treatment for high cholesterol will depend on your situation. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, such as diet, exercise, and medication.
What is the best diet plan for high cholesterol?
High cholesterol is a condition that affects many people, and it can increase your risk of heart disease. To lower your cholesterol, you’ll need to change your diet, including eating more soluble fiber and certain types of fish. You should also avoid foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
A diet plan tailored to your needs can help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.
There is no one “best” diet plan for high cholesterol, but there are certain foods that you should avoid if you have this condition. These include foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and processed snacks.
You can lower your cholesterol by eating a diet that is high in soluble fiber and low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Some good dietary choices include:
- fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- lean protein sources
- fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
- nuts and seeds
- moderate amounts of healthy fats, such as olive oil or avocado
Avoiding foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol is essential for managing high cholesterol.
The good news is that with some simple changes to your diet, you can lower your cholesterol and keep it low. The bad news is that there are no magic foods or secret diets that will fix your cholesterol overnight. The best approach to lowering your cholesterol is a heart-healthy eating plan combined with regular physical activity. This strategy will help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
What diet are plans available to help reduce cholesterol levels?
Numerous diet plans have been developed to help people with high cholesterol. Some of these diets have been designed specifically for people with high cholesterol, while others are based on popular weight-loss diets that include recommendations for a heart-healthy diet. Several diet plans can help you reduce your cholesterol levels. Your doctor or dietitian can help you choose the best plan for you.
Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet
The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet was developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help lower your cholesterol. The TLC diet is recommended for people with high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, who also have cardiovascular disease or risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or smoking. TLC is also recommended for certain people with low HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.
The TLC diet includes:
- Limiting total fat intake to 25% to 35% of daily calories and limiting saturated fat intake to less than 7% of daily calories
- Eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Restrict your intake of foods containing trans fats
- Eating fish at least twice a week
- Eating poultry without skin or fat more often than eating red meat
- Limiting salt (sodium) in your diet
The diet was initially designed to help patients lower their blood pressure, the DASH or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Reducing salt intake was one way to do this. But the DASH diet also included other strategies for managing blood pressure, including increasing potassium, magnesium, and calcium intake. In addition, the DASH diet is high in protein and low in fat — and it encourages certain types of foods over others.
It’s no secret that diet plays a significant role in lowering cholesterol levels. While the American Heart Association recommends a healthy eating plan that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the DASH diet continues. It recommends specific amounts of foods and food groups that limit saturated fats, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol while increasing “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels.
The DASH diet includes:
- A lot of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products
- Moderate in protein and low in saturated fat
- Low added sugars, sodium (salt), and total fat
The Ornish diet
The Ornish diet is a very low-fat, vegetarian diet that has been shown to reverse heart disease. Unlike other vegetarian diets, the Ornish diet is deficient in fat — only 10% of daily calories come from fat. The diet is also high in carbohydrates, fiber, and plant sterols, which are substances that can help lower cholesterol levels.
The Ornish diet includes:
- A lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes
- Moderate soy proteins
- A limited intake of low-fat dairy products
- No animal products
- A diet low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium (salt)
The Pritikin diet
The Pritikin diet is a very low-calorie diet that has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. The diet is based on the idea that eating foods high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, and plant sterols can help lower cholesterol levels. The diet is also deficient in saturated fat and dietary cholesterol.
The Pritikin diet includes:
- A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes
- A limited intake of low-fat dairy products and lean meats
- No processed foods, sugary drinks, or artificial sweeteners
- A diet low in total fat, saturated fat, and dietary cholesterol
The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people used to eat in countries like Italy and Greece back in 1960. Researchers noted that these people were exceptionally healthy compared to Americans and had a low risk of many lifestyle diseases. This has been attributed to their diet, which is low in red meat, sugar, and saturated fats and high in produce and unsaturated fats.
The Mediterranean diet involves eating:
- fruits, vegetables, bread and grains, potatoes, beans, nuts, and seeds
- olive oil as the primary source of fat
- cheese and yogurt in moderation
- fish and poultry at least twice a week
- less red meat than is typical in a Western diet
Small amounts of red wine are also included in the Mediterranean diet. Moderate amounts of alcohol can raise good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood.
What should I eat if I have high cholesterol?
Whether you’re just starting on your journey to healthier eating or you’ve been at it for a while, we all need a little inspiration from time to time.
Your diet can help lower your cholesterol. The key is to limit certain types of fat and boost intake of other nutrients, including soluble fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, plant stanols and sterols, soy protein, and plant proteins.
The best diet plan for high cholesterol limits saturated fat, trans fats, and dietary cholesterol. To limit saturated fat and trans fats, choose olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil, vegetable oils (other than coconut and palm kernel oils), margarine made from vegetable oils, and monounsaturated fats in foods such as avocados, nuts, and olives.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber
To lower your total cholesterol level, consider adding soluble fiber to your diet by eating oatmeal, oat bran, or beans. You don’t have to go on a special diet, such as the Mediterranean diet or the DASH eating plan designed to lower blood pressure, but limiting your saturated fat intake is good. By doing so, you can reduce your LDL cholesterol level.
Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance in your intestines. This helps to remove cholesterol from your body when you have a bowel movement. Aim for at least 5-10 grams of fiber daily. Look for foods that contain at least 2 grams per serving, like oatmeal, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beans, and eggplant.
Read ingredient labels
High levels of cholesterol are found in animal products like meat and eggs. You can also find them in other products like butter and cream cheese. When shopping for these foods, check the label for their saturated fat and trans fat levels – both will be listed on the nutrition facts panel. While saturated fats should be limited to 10 percent or less of your daily calories (for example, if you eat 2,000 calories per day, no more than 200 of them should come from saturated fat), trans fats should be avoided altogether.
Eating plant proteins may also help lower your cholesterol
Plant proteins don’t have the same effect on blood cholesterol levels as animal proteins do. A diet with plenty of plant proteins – soybeans, nuts, and legumes – has lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Choose egg whites or egg substitutes instead of whole eggs to limit dietary cholesterol. Choose lean meats and poultry without skin. Limit shellfish such as shrimp or oysters. And choose low- or nonfat dairy products.
Limit foods high in saturated fat include:
- Fatty cuts of meat
- Whole-fat milk and milk products, such as cream, cheese, sour cream, and ice cream
- Palm and coconut oils
- poultry with the skin on
- whole milk
- ice cream
Foods that contain trans fats include:
- Microwave popcorn
- Baked goods (cakes, cookies, doughnuts)
Here are some tips from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help you get started:
Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol. Instead, pick leaner cuts of meat and skinless poultry with less saturated fat. Also, use low-fat (1%) or nonfat milk instead of whole milk. Other dairy products should also be low fat or nonfat.
Choose oils rich in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated fat for cooking and baking. Choose olive oil or canola oil when possible. Use soft margarine free of trans fat and has no more than 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.
Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – at least five servings a day if you’re a woman or nine servings if you’re a man. If you find it hard to eat so many servings each day, consider taking a daily multivitamin containing folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12. These vitamins play an essential role in controlling homocysteine.
Eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats and poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
Choose foods low in saturated fats and trans fats to reduce the amount of cholesterol in your diet.
These are some ingredients to look out for on food labels:
Saturated fats – these include animal fats like butter, cheese, and red meat as well as plant oils like palm oil and coconut oil; they also include hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils such as margarine
Trans fats – are made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils to make them more solid. They’re found in many processed foods, such as cookies, crackers, cakes, pie crusts, and fried foods.
Cholesterol is the fat found mainly in animal products, such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. It’s also found in some plant foods, like liver and shrimp. The best way to avoid cholesterol is to limit the amount of animal products you eat.
What about diet pills for high cholesterol?
If diet and lifestyle changes don’t help lower your cholesterol levels enough, your doctor may prescribe medication. Many medications are used to treat high cholesterol, but the most common are statins. Statins work by blocking the liver from making cholesterol.
Some people may be tempted to try over-the-counter diet pills to lower their cholesterol. Still, it’s essential to talk with your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you’re already taking medication. Many diet pills can interact with other medications and cause serious health problems.
It’s essential to keep in mind that diet alone can’t solve all your health problems. In order to lower your cholesterol, you also need to get regular exercise and eat a healthy diet. A heart-healthy eating plan includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean protein sources, and healthy fats.