There is one common conclusion from the many studies that have been done worldwide on maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and that is properly selected diets lower cholesterol levels. In fact the right informed dietary choices have a significant effect on lowering your cholesterol levels and influencing your state of health.
There are a number of ways to consider your dietary approach to lowering cholesterol:
- Choose lower cholesterol foods – by choosing foods with less cholesterol content has the obvious effect of not increasing your cholesterol levels to the same extent
- Choose foods that metabolically promote lower cholesterol – such foods can help to remove cholesterol already present in your body
- Choose to eat less of the foods that contain cholesterol – this can be as simple a change to your present mix of food items to minimize your consumption of cholesterol
- Choose to eat only foods that contain no cholesterol – this may be a radical approach yet for some people may be something to seriously consider, if only temporarily
Obviously you can make major immediate changes and eliminate all foods containing cholesterol, which are animal products, dairy products, and many of the processed foods and convenience foods. But, although an excellent choice, for most people this may not be the course of action they wish to choose. Their preferred approach to using diet to lower cholesterol levels may be to combine all four of the above. Your own state of health and the seriousness of your present cholesterol levels are usually the main drivers for deciding what diet is best for you.
A little knowledge about cholesterol and the various types of fats is really all you need when it comes to understanding cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential to support your life. Your liver makes about 75% of your cholesterol needs and the remainder comes from your diet in the fats you eat. The primary purpose of cholesterol is to assist your body’s state of health through its supporting roles of helping to maintain the membranes of your cells, the synthesis of Vitamin D, your learning and memory capability, and your digestion and assimilation of food.
The cholesterol in your diet comes primarily from the fats that you eat. But not all fats are bad. Fats are divided into two main groups – saturated and unsaturated. The saturated fats are the fats that raise your cholesterol levels and therefore should not form a major part of your diet. Typically these fats are in animal products and diary products. Unsaturated fats found in oily fish and the oils from vegetables are beneficial as they act to decrease your LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels.
One group of fats to stay away from is known as the trans fats. These are vegetable oils (unsaturated fats) that have been processed by hydrogenation to turn them into a semi-solid form. Examples of this are margarines and cooking oils that have been overheated or reused many times. These trans fats are double bad in that they increase LDL (the bad cholesterol) and decrease HDL (the good cholesterol). So stay away from these fats which are also typically found in processed and convenience foods.
Today’s food labeling laws in many countries make it easier to know the cholesterol levels of packaged foods.
There are foods that actually have the effect of lowering the cholesterol level by removing cholesterol that is already in your body. These foods are those containing fiber which is typically found in fruit, vegetables and grains. Because fiber is not generally digested and absorbed in your body it has the benefit of cleaning out your digestive system by passing through it and flushing out various substances such as cholesterol and chemicals.
There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. It is the soluble fibers (i.e. those that dissolve in water) that are the most beneficial for reducing your cholesterol. The reason is that the soluble fibers dissolve and form into a gel-like substance that actually wraps around the cholesterol in your digestive system and carries it out. This renders that cholesterol unavailable. By far the best soluble fiber food is the bran from oats, called oat bran.
So if you do suffer from high cholesterol you do have other options to prescription drugs. If you are determined to use natural and safe ways to assist you rather than rely on medication you can see from above strategies that carefully selected diets lower cholesterol levels and serve to promote your health and vitality.