Controlling cholesterol through diet

Experts agree that dietary modification is appro­priate if your total cholesterol count is greater than 200 milligrams per decilitre (5.2 milimoles per litre) or if the low density lipoprotein (LDL) level exceeds 130 milligrams per decilitre (3.5 milimols per litre). Here are some tips on how to regulate your cholesterol through diet.

Controlling cholesterol through diet

Dietary guidelines

  1. Reduce intake of saturated fats.This approach has the greatest effect on lowering blood cholesterol levels. A diet that limits fat intake to 20 percent or less of total calories and restricts saturated fats to seven percent or less can lower total blood cholesterol an average of 14 percent. Most people can significantly lower intake of saturated fats by cutting down on, or eliminating, fatty meats, whole milk, and other full-fat dairy products, as well as tropical oils (coconut, palm and palm kernel). It is also important to lower intake of trans fatty acids found in partially hydrogenated oils and foods containing them such as cookies, crackers, other commercial baked goods, many snack foods and some margarines and spreads.
  2. Try a vegetarian diet. The vegetarian low-fat (less than 10 percent of calories) program developed by Dr. Dean Ornish can lower LDL cholesterol substantially. His program also calls for exercise and meditation.
  3. Eat foods that lower cholesterol. It isn't just what you don't eat that matters; consuming foods that have a cholesterol-lowering effect also helps. Flavonoid-rich foods, including citrus fruits and onions, are known to promote healthy cholesterol levels. Soluble fibre is also a weapon against cholesterol. It is commonly found in oats, beans and flaxseed. The pectin in apples and other fruits lowers cholesterol, as does the soy protein found in tofu, tempeh and soy milk. It has also been established that regular daily consumption of carrots can lead to a reduction of LDL cholesterol levels.
  4. Eat fish rich in omega-3s. Two or three servings per week of salmon, sardines and other cold-water fish are linked with a reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes. Initially, it was thought that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish reduced cardiovascular risk by lowering blood cholesterol levels; however, recent studies suggest that their benefit comes from interfering with blood clotting and from possible changes in the way the liver metabolizes other lipids.
  5. Eat lots of soy products. A large body of evidence has shown that adding soy protein to a low-fat diet helps to lower cholesterol levels. Soy protein is found in soybeans and products made from these beans, including tofu and soy beverages.
  6. Look for margarine with plant sterols. Plant sterols have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels when consumed as part of a heart-healthy diet. They are found in plant-sterol enriched margarines, vegetable oils, nuts, sesame and sunflower seeds, soy and other legumes.

By following these tips, you can help keep your cholesterol at healthy levels.

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