Diet Plan to Treat Hypercholesterolemia: Foods to Avoid and to Eat
Healthy eating is key in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia and in the prevention of atherosclerosis. Hypercholesterolemia consists of the presence of cholesterol in the blood above levels considered normal. This increase, which is associated with coronary problems, depends on diet, lifestyle, gender, endogenous synthesis. In this way, in the concentration of cholesterol in blood involves hereditary and dietary factors, along with others related to physical activity.
When hereditary, the condition is referred as Familial hypercholesterolemia (HF). It is expressed from birth and is associated with an increase in plasma cholesterol concentrations, mainly of cholesterol transported by low-density lipoprotein (LDL-C).
With a healthy diet and the decrease in saturated fat intake, reductions in LDL-C (bad cholesterol) of 10 to 20% can be obtained. In addition to reducing cholesterol and triglycerides, a healthy diet has other beneficial effects on the vascular wall. It can help reduce the harmful effects caused by oxidation and decrease blood pressure and insulin resistance.
What are the foods to avoid?
These are the foods rich in trans fats (a type of fat that is formed when the liquid oil is transformed into a solid fat adding hydrogens). The best way to identify whether or not a product contains trans fat is to read the information provided by the product label. In the list of ingredients is indicated whether the product has hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats (indicative that the product could contain trans fats). According to the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria, trans fat consumption should account for less than 1% of the daily calories eaten.
1. Industrial bakery.
2. Fast food (burgers, fries, fried chicken, nuggets, etc.).
3. Prepared soups and sauces: many elaborate sauces, with irresistible flavors, contain large amounts of trans fats.
4. Snacks and salty snacks, such as chips, etc.
5. Popcorn (specially prepared to be made in the microwave).
6. Frozen foods, especially pizzas.
7. Pre-cooked products like croquettes and stuffed bread.
8. Ice creams and non-dairy creams for coffee
9. Cookies, donuts, muffins, cereal bars, etc.
10. Margarine, although some classes that have undergone hydrogenation processes have managed to greatly reduce the trans fats content in their composition.
What are the foods to reduce or limit?
Those are foods rich in saturated fats. Most products that contain saturated fats are of animal origin. These foods include:
– Milk and its derivatives,
– Butter and margarine,
– Organ meats,
– Egg yolk,
– Palm oil and coconut oil.
The fact that these foods contain saturated fats does not imply that they should be avoided and eliminated from the diet. The amount of saturated fat contained in the products is decisive when differentiating whether it is a healthy food or not, since while whole milk contains about 60 percent saturated fat, the percentage in chicken meat, fish or egg yolk is around 30 percent. In addition, many products have alternatives low in saturated fats, as in the case of skim milk or low-fat margarine. Foods that contain these fats should not be suppressed from the diet, but care should be taken to include them in moderation, within a balanced diet.
Sugar must also be limited. Usually, an adolescent’s diet is very high in sugar. A new study noted that a teenager may be consuming up to 28 teaspoons of sugar per day, equivalent to 500 calories, while at most 9 is recommended for men and 6 for women. We have already read and heard that excess sugar increases the risk of obesity, however in this new study it is found that it also increases bad cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
Sugar is an ingredient that is present in juices, bottled soft drinks, soda, cookies, confections, and many people are not interested in reading nutritional labels and identifying the grams of sugar a food has. Sugar may be identified in the ingredients of the product as sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, sucrose or maltose.
What foods should make the most of your diet
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables
The nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants present in fruits and vegetables, especially raw, help protect us against many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and some cancers. They also contain very few calories and being plant products they lack cholesterol.
Introducing the salad as the main garnish for the meals and a piece of fruit in the lunch and in the desserts, are some measures that we can adopt to get to reach the 5 recommended rations of fruit and vegetables per day.
2. Whole grains and legumes
Whole grains contain more fiber than refined grains and also provide more vitamins and minerals. Legumes are also very rich in vitamins and minerals, complex carbohydrates and fiber. This fiber “traps” part of the cholesterol that we ingest, thus preventing its absorption in the intestine. In addition, if we combine cereals (bread, rice, pasta …) with legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans, peas …), we will obtain proteins of excellent biological value.
3. Fish and poultry
Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote the child’s brain development and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Consuming a minimum of 3 servings of fish per week is recommended.
Also, prefer lean chicken or turkey to red meats and sausages as these foods have a lower content of saturated fat and cholesterol.
4. Up to 3-4 whole eggs per week
Contrary to what has always been thought, the consumption of eggs is not linked to a significant increase in blood cholesterol. The egg-white does not contain cholesterol so there are no limitations on its consumption. As for the yolk, although it is true that it has cholesterol, its content in monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids such as health-beneficial omega-3, far exceeds that of saturated fat. Eggs also provide proteins of excellent biological value, minerals like iron and many vitamins.
5. Extra-virgin olive oil as main fat
The olive oil, the basic constituent of the Mediterranean diet, should remain the primary oil. It provides us with monounsaturated fat, vitamins and antioxidants that prevent the development of cardiovascular disease.
6. Skim milk
Skim milk is healthy because it provides proteins of high biological value and minerals like calcium, avoiding saturated fats and cholesterol that contains whole milk.