Cholesterol reducing foods are not unlike foods that contain low cholesterol. In order to reduce or control cholesterol levels we need to include 5 main food groups in our daily diet. These are:
1. cereals, whole grains and beans
2. meat, poultry and fish
3. fruit and vegetables
4. dairy products
5. fats and sugars
While each food group is needed for overall good health the secret to lowering cholesterol levels is in the portions we consume: most of us should eat smaller portions. Also we need 3-5 pieces of fruit and vegetables daily. We need to eat plenty of beans, cereals and whole grain goods especially if we are active.
Eggs, milk, fats and sugars should be taken in extreme moderation or even eliminated if our cholesterol levels are very high. We do however need a certain amount of polyunsaturated fats or essential fatty acids in order to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) levels.
Saturated fats found in animal products should be avoided at all costs until cholesterol levels are once again healthy, but even then should be limited to fish, poultry and turkey, or substituted with Soya, beans and nuts where possible. Vegetables such as coconut and palm oils should also be avoided as they fall under the heading of saturated fats.
We need to include a diet high in fibre as this helps reduce cholesterol by binding to it and eliminating it from the body. Antioxidants which are provided from a host of seeds, nuts, soy, fruits and vegetables are also proving a good way of lowering cholesterol levels.
Reducing High Cholesterol
Anyone diagnosed with high cholesterol needs to focus on their diet in order to lower it. Surprisingly though a diet of high cholesterol foods is often not responsible for increased cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is a fatty type substance that our body manufactures naturally. The only foods that contain cholesterol are those derived from animal products. Any foods taken from something that has a liver contains cholesterol. However it is still advisable to check food labels as many products contain derivatives of animal fats and therefore contain some level of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is used by the body at a cellular level as well as in the synthesis of certain hormones and Vitamin D. When it is transported from our liver to the bloodstream for use by cells a certain amount sticks to walls of arteries along the way. If we have high levels of cholesterol the amount that sticks tends to be higher as the substance becomes thicker and stickier.
The question is whether or not a diet high in cholesterol can increase cholesterol levels. The answer is yes, and no. A diet high in cholesterol is not necessarily responsible for raising cholesterol levels in the blood. What will contribute to raising cholesterol levels are the saturated fats that accompany high cholesterol foods. It is this fat that we need to eliminate from our diet.
A diet high in animal or saturated fats tends to encourage obesity in those that do not exercise and extra weight contributes to increased blood cholesterol. By lowering saturated fat intake you will be able to start lowering cholesterol levels, turn instead to foods that contain monounsaturated fats such as fish oils or nuts for instance.
Even in the face of a low cholesterol diet there are many people who still have high cholesterol even though they exercise regularly. In this case these people are most likely genetically predisposed and may need medication to lower cholesterol.
Following a cholesterol free diet
A cholesterol free diet includes anything that is not derived from animal products. However sometimes eggs fall into this bracket and if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol it is advisable that you avoid them. If you cannot do that then it is suggested that you eat only the whites avoid the yolks.
Eat lots of fiber foods such as oatmeal, whole grains, beans, nuts, soy and pasta. They are low in fats and sugars and help block the absorption of cholesterol by your intestines.
Don’t forget fresh fruits and vegetables but eat them raw wherever possible. Plant sterols found in these foods are notoriously good for reducing the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed in the bloodstream as well as helping eliminate the excess.