High cholesterol levels can lead to many types of illnesses, especially diseases of the cardiovascular system like hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Cholesterol, fat or plaque can clog small arteries restricting blood flow to organs causing an increase in blood pressure. Plaque can dislodge and journey to a major organ like the heart, causing cardiac arrest, or it can travel to the small blood vessels of the brain causing a stroke.
Cholesterol generally comes from two possible sources. It comes from the fat we eat such as in animal products like meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products, and it can come from our own bodies when we eat food rich in trans fats. This type of fat causes the body to create unhealthy cholesterol.
It is essential that anyone with a high risk of developing heart disease follows a low cholesterol diet. A diet with low cholesterol means:
• A diet with low fat percentage.
• A diet with complex carbohydrates that can help eliminate the bad cholesterol in the body. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates are whole grains and bread from white flour that contain fiber.
• A diet that is lower in saturated fat like food with margarine and vegetable shortening. Cook foods instead with unsaturated fats or monosaturated fats like olive oil or canola oil.
Any medication to decrease cholesterol in the body must be accompanied by a diet low in cholesterol to be able to work. A physician generally prescribes a diet with low cholesterol for at least 6 months to be able to reduce cholesterol levels and live healthier. A diet with low cholesterol may also be a step to achieve an ideal weight. Here are some more ways to incorporate a low cholesterol diet into your daily meal plan.
• Eat more fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins and minerals. They are also great sources for dietary fiber. Fiber acts like small brooms cleaning the body of harmful toxins and decreases cholesterol in the process. Natural chemicals from plants are found in fruits and vegetables like phytosterols and polyphenols that can contribute to a decrease in cholesterol levels. Eat a slice of fruit or a bowl of your favorite berries with every meal or have a vegetable salad.
• Avoid foods with trans fat. Some brands of food have made it easy for consumers by listing the ingredients and what they contain on the food label. Anything that says partially hydrogenated is another word for trans fat and must be completely avoided.
• Eat more whole wheat and whole grains like oats, cereals and breads that contain fiber to help eliminate bad cholesterol.
• Meats must be lean without any visible traces of fat like fish, chicken and turkey. To follow a low cholesterol diet, try a turkey burger instead of a beef patty the next time you would like a hamburger.