Although foods containing dietary cholesterol are unlikely to have a significant effect on high cholesterol, foods high in saturated fat should be avoided. Cholesterol helps the body perform several important functions, including helping to create hormones and build cells. The liver creates the cholesterol that the body uses, but you can also eat foods containing this substance.
There are two types of cholesterol: low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). When too much LDL cholesterol builds up in the blood, it can cause plaque to form in the arteries. This can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Diet can be modified to help lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. This article examines the relationship between dietary cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol levels. It also looks at how a person can lower their cholesterol levels by changing their diet. Finally, it lists foods to eat and avoid to lower cholesterol levels.
Dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol level
High levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood can increase a person’s risk of developing heart disease (CVD). Although the liver creates cholesterol for the body to use, individuals can also find cholesterol in the foods they eat. This is called dietary cholesterol.
According to a 2019 article, health experts previously believed that a high intake of dietary cholesterol increased the risk of developing CVD. Until recently, public health guidelines recommended limiting dietary cholesterol to 300 milligrams (mg) per day.
To help lower blood cholesterol levels, reduce the consumption of foods containing saturated fat. Saturated fat affects how the liver processes cholesterol, which can raise LDL levels in the blood.
How can you reduce your cholesterol level through your diet?
Dietary cholesterol has only a small effect on blood cholesterol levels. However, some health organizations still recommend limiting dietary cholesterol to no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. Many foods high in dietary cholesterol, such as red meat and other animal foods, also tend to be high in saturated fat. This may contribute to the confusion that has existed until now about the impact of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol levels.
However, a good diet includes:
lean protein sources
low-fat or fat-free dairy products
In general, eat more fiber-rich foods, such as beans, oats and vegetables. Also eat foods high in unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, avocados, nuts or seeds.
Foods to Avoid
Above all, limit foods high in saturated fat. Foods high in saturated fat include the following:
high-fat dairy products
bacon, sausages and other processed meats
baked goods containing large amounts of butter, such as cakes
Are there any specific diets one can follow?
The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and the Mediterranean-type diet are low in cholesterol.
The DASH Diet
The DASH diet aims to lower blood pressure and lower LDL cholesterol.
To follow this diet, people should strive to eat:
fat-free or low-fat dairy products
People should also avoid eating
fatty dairy products.
Mediterranean style diet
A 2022 article notes that the Mediterranean diet is the term that describes the traditional eating habits of people living in the Mediterranean region. The Mediterranean diet can help prevent strokes and heart disease. It may also reduce the following risk factors for stroke and heart disease, including:
high blood pressure
According to a 2019 review, this eating plan may also improve a person’s cardiovascular health.
People following the Mediterranean diet should aim to eat:
green and leafy vegetables
a variety of legumes
nuts, such as walnuts, pistachios, and almonds
Are dietary changes enough to lower LDL cholesterol levels?
Some people can use dietary changes to help lower their cholesterol levels. However, diet alone is not always enough to lower cholesterol levels. In addition to changing their diet, people should take the following steps to help lower LDL cholesterol levels:
avoiding or quitting smoking, if applicable
do lipid check-ups regularly, at least every 5 years
Some people may also need medication. People who may need cholesterol medication include those who have
familial hypercholesterolemia, an inherited condition that can lead to high LDL cholesterol.
You can help lower your cholesterol levels by changing your diet. However, one may also need to make other changes, such as increasing the amount of physical exercise and quitting smoking, if appropriate. However, some people, such as those with diabetes or CVD, may not be able to control their cholesterol levels just by changing their diet and lifestyle. They may need medication to better manage their condition.
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