Diet to Lower High Cholesterol

Lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and proper diet, are important measures for controlling cholesterol levels. In individuals with only slightly elevated cholesterol levels, simple dietary changes can reduce or even prevent the use of cholesterol medications.

Any degree of reduction in cholesterol is welcome, since every 1% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels in the blood decreases by 2% the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is important to note that in addition to diet, to control cholesterol, body weight control and regular physical exercise are also essential.

Lower cholesterol food
Lower cholesterol food

Who should diet to lower cholesterol?

A healthy diet is indicated for any individual, even those with controlled cholesterol levels. However, the greater the value of LDL cholesterol, the more important the changes in lifestyle become. A cholesterol-lowering diet is indicated for those with LDL cholesterol above 130 mg/dL. In the case of patients with a personal history of coronary heart disease the diet should be done to help keep LDL below 100 mg/dL.

General tips on foods

The following are general tips on foods and cholesterol control supplements. To optimize the results it is always important to have an appointment with a nutritionist so that the nutritionist can devise an appropriate strategy for your particular case.

In general, saturated fats, especially trans-saturated fats, should be avoided. The healthiest fats are the unsaturated fats, especially the monounsaturated fats found in foods like olive oil, canola, avocado, peanuts and nuts. Let's explain in more detail.

1) Meat

It is not necessary to cut meat from the diet, but give preference to fish. Skinless poultry are also an option. Beef or pork only if they are lean cuts. The ideal amount of meat per day is 150-200g. Avoid:
  • Meats with fatty cuts, ribs, organ meat and fried meats (including fish)
  • Sausage, sausage, mortadella, salami, ham and bacon
  • Shrimp, octopus and squid

Preference should always be given to vegetable protein instead of animal protein. Soybeans are a great substitute for meat of animal origin.

2) Eggs

You can eat eggs, however, no more than 4 egg yolks per week in milder cases and no more than 2 egg yolks per week in cases of higher cholesterol or high cardiovascular risk. This account includes foods that carry eggs, such as cakes and pasta. Clear has no cholesterol and can be consumed without fear.

3) Milk and dairy products

Milk should always be skimmed. The same goes for cheeses and yogurts. Give preference to cottage cheese, the thinnest of them all. Cheese Minas light is also a good option. Avoid gorgonzola, cheddar, provolone and parmesan cheese.

Unlike many people think, the buffalo muzzarela is not a lean cheese. In fact, it is even greasier than the average muzzarella.

If you want to use cream in the preparation of some dish, use the soy-based, which taste is very similar. Also be careful with creamy ice cream.

There are some new studies that challenge our current notion that dairy products high in saturated fat are bad for cholesterol, but that is still a cause for debate and there is by no means sufficient evidence to change the current consensus.

4) Margarine

One should not use butter, but special margarine. There are already on the market margarines with plant sterols (phytosterols) that have proven to help lower LDL cholesterol levels. The two most famous brands are Becel pro-activ and Benecol.

5) Fish oil (Omega 3)

Omega 3 is a type of fat found in fatty fish, especially salmon, in flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil and nuts. Fish oil can also be found in capsules. Regular consumption reduces the incidence of cardiovascular events and helps reduce triglyceride levels. It is suggested to consume at least two meals a week with fish rich in omega 3.

6) Soybean

Soy protein despite not directly lowering cholesterol levels is indicated in patients with high cholesterol because it is a source of protein with low amount of saturated fat and high amount of unsaturated fats.

7) Walnuts

Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio and nuts are good options for lowering LDL cholesterol.

8) Garlic

Despite popular belief, there is no evidence that garlic has direct action in reducing LDL cholesterol.

9) Green Tea

Green tea is proven to reduce LDL levels. It's a good option.

10) Fibers

Regular consumption of high-fiber foods helps reduce LDL levels. Eat as many fiber foods as you can.

11) Fruits and vegetables

They help reduce LDL cholesterol and should be the basis of diet.

12) Vegetable oils

Vegetable oils such as olive oil, soybeans, sunflower, canola, corn, cotton and rice have no saturated fat and are great sources of healthy fat (unsaturated fats). But beware, they should not be boiled because high temperatures change their chemical structure turned them into saturated fat (bad fat).

13) Bitter chocolate

While ordinary chocolate often increases cholesterol levels, bitter chocolates are rich in flavonoids, substances that lower LDL.

14) Bread

Whole grain bread and cereals from oats, corn or wheat are indicated. Avoid: croissants, breads in which eggs, fat or butter are the main ingredients, high-fat biscuits, cakes, muffins containing whole milk, egg yolks or saturated oils.

It is important to note that diet and exercise can lower cholesterol levels by as much as 20-30%, often enough to reach adequate levels. Even in those patients who need cholesterol-lowering drugs, diet is important because it potentiates the action of drugs, making it necessary to use smaller doses, reducing the cost of treatment and the incidence of side effects.

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