A Healthy Low Cholesterol Diet Plan in 15 Easy Steps

The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds especially true for managing cholesterol levels. Making the right food choices in your daily diet is far better than having to afford many visits to your doctor. Your levels of cholesterol may increase when you follow a diet plan made of a lot of foods that contain sugar, saturated and trans fats. Over 71,000,000 adults in America have high levels of cholesterol at over 200 mg/dL, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Among these people, over 47,000,000 of them do not have this condition under control, making them vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases as a result of cholesterol accumulation inside their arterial blood vessels. In case your cholesterol levels place you in danger of heart-related illnesses, implementing modifications in the meals you eat every day can certainly help. Your food intake has an effect on the 3 forms of lipids parts of your blood stream: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol in addition to triglycerides. Having a diet plan low in sugar and bad fats will let you reduce the triglycerides by 20 % and can as well produce positive changes to your LDL and HDL respectively the bad and the good cholesterol in accordance with the American Heart Association (AHA). Finding out about the healthy food choices as well as food preparation techniques will be helpful in developing a personalized eating plan designed to please your own preferences.

The fundamentals of a cholesterol-lowering diet plan

Your goal is to try to maintain your total cholesterol (the number obtained by adding 20 % of the triglycerides to the sum of the levels of LDL and HDL) lower than 200 mg for each deciliter of blood. A total over that limit in addition to supplemental risk variables for example diabetes, hypertension, age, inherited genes and stress elevate your probability to get cardiovascular disorders.

The New 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans have always been a reference to consider when talking about nutrition worldwide. The new US Dietary Guidelines to eliminate limits for dietary cholesterol (cholesterol in food) which was recommended not to exceed 300 mg daily in previous guidelines. The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee after analyzing recent worldwide scientific studies on nutrition has concluded that there is not enough evidence on a quantitative dose of dietary cholesterol that has an impact on blood cholesterol levels. In other words, you should no longer worry about eating foods high in cholesterol like eggs. However, while certain nutrition experts argue that saturated fats do not promote high cholesterol, the Advisory Committee does not agree and still recommends it to be limited to 10% of the total calories per day. In other words, while you can eat high cholesterol foods, you need to pay attention because many of these foods are also high in saturated fats, for example, butter, hard margarine, dripping, lard, fatty meats like sausages, full-fat cheese, cakes, pastries…

Additionally, the new Dietary Guidelines describe a healthy eating pattern as one that includes all food types of food and beverages within an adequate level of calories. Thus, a healthy eating pattern (for a 2000-calorie level) includes:

– 2½ cup daily of all types of vegetables: dark green, red or orange, starchy, legumes and others.
– Fruits (2 cups daily), especially whole ones.
– Grains (6 oz daily), of which at least half should include whole grains.
– Dairy products such as fluid milk, cheese, yogurt or fortified products based on soy.
– A variety of protein-rich foods, including seafood at least 8 oz per week, eggs, lean meats and poultry to about 26 oz per week, legumes and nuts, seeds and / or soy products.
– Oils (27 g daily).

Also, a healthy eating pattern limits:

– Saturated fats, which should provide less than 10% of the day’s calories.
– Added sugars, which should not exceed 10% of daily calories.
– Sodium, to be ingested in less than 2300 mg daily amounts.
– Trans fats to very minimal, trans fats intake should be kept as low as possible because it increases.
– Alcohol, which should be consumed in moderation being recommended a maximum of one drink per day for women and two drinks a day for men.

How to lower cholesterol with diet in 15 simple and easy steps

Picture of cholesterol free foods
Picture of foods to include in your diet

Step 1

The initial step is to start controlling portions. The food portions are often too large, but there is a practical way to control portions: measuring with hands. To know if your serving of meat or fish is ideal, simply see it fits in a hand palm. As for a serving of fresh fruit, it should be approximately the size of a fist. Finally, a serving of cooked vegetables, rice or pasta, must fit into the cupped hand.

Step 2

Increase the amount of foods that are rich in fiber in your daily meal plan. Taking in 5-10 g of fiber daily cuts down on the intake of LDL cholesterol in the blood stream. Begin the day with one and a half cup of oatmeal, that gives you about 6 g of fiber. Another way to get plenty fiber is by eating raw fruits, beans, brown rice and also whole-grain bread.

Step 3

Cook eggs in healthy ways. While the dietary cholesterol in eggs is not considered harmful anymore, frying eggs with lard or butter will increase the saturated fats content. Prefer boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, and poached eggs. Want it fried? Use extra virgin olive oil. Do not add creamy sauces or toppings.

Step 4

Drinking milk is important at any age. Many people reduce their milk consumption significantly as they get older, yet this can cause other health problems. The lower the percentage of fat in the milk, the better it is for your cholesterol. Skim milk may not appeal to everyone. So choosing 1 or 2 percent milk is still a very healthy alternative. You can also opt for low-fat dairy foods such as fat-free or 1% buttermilk and plain yogurt, Provolone, Mozzarella, part skim Ricotta and Cheddar.

Step 5

Vegetables are good for your daily eating plan
Vegetables and fruits are highly recommended.

Increase the amount of veggies in your daily dishes because they feature less fat even zero fat or calories by nature. Consider preparing recipes made up of veggies or adding vegetables as sides to the dishes. Heat your veggies in a little volume of water or stir frying them in a single canola oil tablespoon. For further health advantages, season the veggies with natural herbs rather than salt. Fruits and veggies, whole grain bakery, and staying away from salt in what you eat are the well-known commonsense diet to keeping your heart healthy.

Step 6

Eat more fresh fruits. Everyone knows fruits and vegetables are essential for a heart-healthy diet. The added ingredient is the amount of fiber a particular fruit or veggie has since fiber works to further reduce a person’s cholesterol level. But which ones are the best? Two fruits that lead the list of high fiber foods are apples and pears. With a dietary fiber count of 4.4 and 5.5 g respectively for a medium size fruit, choosing these over salty or sugary snacks positively contributes to your overall health. So, always have some fresh and cleaned fruits inside a kitchen counter bowl to enable you to quickly take one to have a healthy and safe snack not high in calories and free of cholesterol. But do not skin these fruits! Compared to meats, with skin is healthier than without skin.

Step 7

Eating fish a couple of times or more per week is highly recommended. Fish has less saturated fat while being a very good supply of healthy proteins. A number of fish species such as halibut, tuna fish and cod contain significantly less LDL when compared with steak or chicken. By simply substituting your red meat with a single fish every week in your food plan, you may reduce your overall cholesterol score. Other fish such as herring, salmon and mackerel are an excellent source of N-3 (Omega-3) fatty acids which enable you to get shielded from cardiovascular issues. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our health (brain function, blood pressure, heart health) but unfortunately our body cannot produce them. A minimum of three servings of Omega-3 rich fish on a weekly basis is recommended. You can broil, grill or bake your fish rather than frying it or preparing it in oily sauces.

Step 8

Yummy low cholesterol chicken breast recipe
Make heart-healthy meat choices in your diet like this tasty low cholesterol chicken breast recipe

Your body needs protein to maintain muscle health. For most people, their protein supply will come from meat. So, want to eat meat? There are considerably less saturated fats in chicken than most red meats unless the red meat is very lean. Look at a skin free poultry to get a nutritious meal loaded with proteins. Skinless chicken is preferred because the skin is the fattiest part. So, chicken is the simple and very flexible meat option. But, you do not need to eat only chicken. You can make low-fat choices like beef sirloin, round roasts or pork tenderloin and restrict your day-to-day meat consumption to 6 oz. Broil, grill or bake your lean meat and steer clear of adding greasy sauces.

Step 9

Eat nuts! Instead of potato chips, opt for a handful of nuts when you get hungry. Almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, and pistachios are rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants and healthy fats that help lower cholesterol levels, according to the American Dietetic Association.

Step 10

Eat healthier desserts. Not everyone is content with a piece of fruit for a dessert option, so there are cholesterol-friendly alternatives that will satisfy a sweet tooth. Doctors put angel food cake on the list of foods for a diabetic diet. It has enough sugar to sweeten the sweet tooth while not overdoing it, plus is a very low-fat food. It can be topped with a fruit such as strawberries to make the body both healthy and happy.

Step 11

Avoid the consumption of foods that are loaded with trans fats in your diet plan, for example, pastries bought at a store. Meals that contain trans fats really increase your LDL levels. It is better to make desserts by yourself at home to ensure the use of only healthy ingredients.

Step 12

A balanced diet should constitute of between 50 to 55% of carbohydrates. However, it is necessary to make a proper selection of them. You should reduce those quickly absorbed carbohydrates (sugars, sweets, kneaded pastry, etc.) and increase those that are slowly absorbed (seeds, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes).

Step 13

Drink more water to maintain your body cells well hydrated, which in turn prevents blood from thickening due to excessive amounts of cholesterol. Drink also sodium bicarbonate mineral water regularly during main meals because according to studies published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in 2010, regular sodium-bicarbonate water consumption reduces total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol significantly. The researchers explained that bicarbonate water increases the pH of the stomach, thus decreasing the release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which causes gallbladder pour less bile in the intestine and thus produces a lower lipid absorption.

Step 14

Want to drink alcohol? Drink red wine but moderately. Red wine in composition presents a series of compounds containing aromatic rings with highly antioxidant properties, called polyphenols. The most important are tannins, found mainly in grape skins and seeds. According to studies published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007, polyphenols inhibit LDL oxidation, which influences the delay in the onset of atherosclerosis, since it is the oxidized LDL that forms a plaque in the artery. Red wine also increases levels of HDL. These two features can produce improved cardiovascular health. A glass of red wine a day is enough to get these benefits. More than that (like with any other alcoholic beverages) can cause much damage to health and interpersonal relationships.

Step 15

If you eat a healthy way at home, you do not have to leave that far away when you go to the restaurant. You must choose the menu well and reduce portions. Choose foods that are grilled, baked or steamed, avoid fried foods and sausages. In addition, practice portions control, for example by requesting middle portion of a plate.

Disclaimer

The guidelines above are not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, although based on the recommendations from the AHA, FDA, and conclusions of recent researches on cholesterol and nutrition. You are recommended to work with your doctor or a registered dietitian to design a customized food plan that will work best for you. It is also highly advisable to incorporate exercising into your daily routine.