Nutrition

The 3 best diets to lower your cholesterol

Some diets are low in cholesterol, including vegan, Mediterranean, and TLC diets. These diets can provide significant health benefits and have common themes and compounds that make them beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels. The body makes cholesterol and needs it for many essential processes, such as the synthesis of hormones. Every cell in the body needs cholesterol to function. The liver makes most of the cholesterol a person needs.

Cholesterol is also found in certain foods, including animal products like meat, cheese, and eggs.
There are two main types of cholesterol circulating in the blood:

– low density lipoproteins (LDL), or bad cholesterol
– high density lipoproteins (HDL), or good cholesterol.

In this article, we take a look at cholesterol-free diets and their effectiveness. We also explain the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and other diets for managing cholesterol.

Is a cholesterol-free diet good for your health?

A diet without cholesterol is not a healthy option. However, a low-cholesterol or cholesterol-lowering diet can be part of an effective blood cholesterol management plan for people with high cholesterol. Cholesterol levels also depend on genetics, body weight, quality of diet and level of exercise. Dietary cholesterol intake is only one element among others. The ideal amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood is less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
However, currently, total cardiovascular risk is more important than a person’s cholesterol test results. If a person’s LDL level is above this number, they may consider making lifestyle changes, such as following a cholesterol-lowering diet. This is especially true if a person is at high risk for heart disease due to other causes, such as obesity, diabetes, genetics, or lifestyle factors. The body needs cholesterol to function fully, so getting it in your diet is vital. People wishing to lower their cholesterol levels through diet should consider reducing saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars, and increasing the amount of fiber and whole, nutrient-dense foods.

Some diets claim to reduce LDL levels. The nutritional plans that work best share similar elements, such as:

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– reduce the consumption of saturated fats
– remove trans fats
– avoid added sugar
– increase the amount of dietary fiber.

The foods in a person’s diet can help lower LDL levels and raise heart-protective HDL cholesterol. Regardless of diet, people looking to lower their cholesterol should consider adding the following nutrients:

– Unsaturated fats: Unsaturated fats can help lower blood cholesterol levels.

– Soluble fiber: Adding 5 to 10 grams (g) of soluble fiber from plants and whole grains to your diet per day can lower total cholesterol and LDL levels by 5 to 11 points or more.

– Stanols and sterols: These are cholesterol-like chemicals found in plants. A 2018 review of studies found that consuming 1.5-3g of these compounds daily can reduce LDL-C levels by 7.5-12%.

Popular diets that many people use to lower their cholesterol levels include:

– vegan
– Mediterranean
– Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet

The vegan diet

A vegan diet involves eliminating all foods of animal origin. A vegan diet prohibits the consumption of animal products, such as:

– Fish
– meat
– Poultry
– eggs
– dairy products
– honey, for those following a vegan diet

A vegan diet significantly reduces saturated fat intake. As saturated fat can contribute to increased LDL cholesterol levels, a person who follows a vegan diet reduces the risk of high cholesterol. A person wishing to follow a vegan diet should follow the advice of a reputable dietitian or competent medical professional. Eating no meat or animal products does not guarantee that a person will make healthy food choices, as many vegan foods are high in calories and low in nutrients.
People who choose to follow a vegan diet should pay particular attention to specific nutrients that plant-based food sources are typically lacking, including:

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– vitamin B12
– omega-3 fatty acids
– zinc
– the iron
– calcium
– vitamin D
– iodine

People should add these nutrients to their vegan diet through supplements or by consuming fortified foods. A 2016 study found that people following a vegan diet are at risk of developing deficiencies in B12, calcium, iron, vitamin D, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.

The Mediterranean Diet

Some people may find it difficult to give up animal foods. The Mediterranean diet may therefore be a better option for lowering cholesterol. Although the Mediterranean dietary pattern is low in red meat, people following the Mediterranean diet can consume dairy products, poultry, and fish in low to moderate amounts. While there are many different versions of the Mediterranean diet, each relies on the same basic nutrients:

– olive oil, instead of saturated fats
– plenty of fruits and vegetables
– fiber-rich starches, such as potatoes, beans, bread and whole grains
– nuts and seeds
– fish and poultry
– consumption of eggs up to four times a week
– drink small to moderate amounts of wine

The Mediterranean diet is high in fiber and healthy fats, and decades of scientific research have shown this dietary pattern to be effective in promoting weight loss and improving heart health.

The TLC Diet

The TLC diet combines dietary adjustments and lifestyle changes to reduce a person’s risk of heart disease. It has fewer restrictions than a vegan diet but follows a much stricter and more scientific structure.
According to the TLC manual a person should consume the following daily:

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– less than 7% of calories from saturated fat
– 25-35% of daily calories from total fat
– less than 200 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol
– a low but healthy calorie count, which a doctor can help a person plan
– an optional amount of 2 g per day of stanols or plant sterols
– an optional amount of 10 to 25 g per day of soluble fibre.

When to consult a doctor

Before making any changes to their diet or lifestyle, a person should consult their doctor or dietitian. Although cutting out red and processed meats, cutting calories, and increasing physical activity are generally considered healthy choices, individual circumstances can make the transition more complicated.

To remember

A cholesterol-lowering diet should be part of a person’s plan to keep their heart healthy. In addition to maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in regular physical activity, diet plans that prioritize fiber, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help a person reduce their risk of developing heart disease or a cerebral vascular accident.

* The information and services available on pressesante.com in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. [HighProtein-Foods.com]

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