Low Cholesterol Diet:

Reduce Your Risk Of Heart Disease

Why Is A Low Cholesterol Diet Important?

A low cholesterol diet is important because having lowblood cholesterol is important. 

People with high blood cholesterol have a greater chance of developing coronary heart disease. Over time cholesterol in the blood can build up on the walls of the arteries. This build up is called plaque. Some plaques can rupture causing clots. These clots can block the flow of blood to important organs such as the heart. 

Some scientists believe that saturated fats and trans-fats contribute to high blood cholesterol more than dietary cholesterol. That is…

Diets high in saturated fats raise blood cholesterol more than diets high in cholesterol.

So as we discuss the importance of a low cholesterol diet we should be concerned with more than avoiding foods that contain high levels of cholesterol. We must also avoid foods high in saturated fats and trans-fats since these raise blood cholesterol levels.

Let’s Start In The Obvious Place

A low cholesterol diet must begin with cutting out saturated fats and trans-fats.

As mentioned, cholesterol in the diet is not the main thing. Blood cholesterol is not as affected by dietary cholesterol as we once thought. It is still a factor but not the main culprit. 

About 25% of a person’s blood cholesterol is absorbed from food. The other 75% is made in the liver. It is the mix of fats that we eat that largely determines how much cholesterol ends up in the blood.

We need to reduce some of the fats we consume and increase others.

Saturated fats have a good side and a bad side. They tend to raise HDL cholesterol. That is a very good thing. However, they also tend to raise LDL cholesterol. Higher levels of LDL (especially oxidized LDL) promote plaque development and therefore coronary heart disease. Saturated fats are found in…

  • Red meat
  • Whole milk
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Chocolate
  • Coconuts (including milk and oil)

Trans-fats are even worse.

Like saturated fats, trans-fats raise LDL levels. But unlike saturated fats, trans-fats do not raise HDL levels. Trans-fats are man-made. (Click here to read how trans-fats are made.) They are an inexpensive alternative to other oils. Avoid trans-fats whenever possible. Fortunately more and more people are becoming aware of the heart health risks caused by trans-fats. 

Trans-fats are found in…

  • Most margarines
  • Partially-hydrogenated oils
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Many fried foods
  • Many fast foods
  • Most commercially baked products

Read the labels on the foods in your pantry. If the ingredients include partially-hydrogenated oils then the product contains trans-fats.


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The Need For Fiber In A Low Cholesterol Diet

It is not just about what we don’t eat that matters. It is about what we do eat. Fiber is a prime example. 

Soluble fiber binds cholesterol containing bile in the intestines. The cholesterol is then excreted out of the body thereby reducing the amount absorbed by the body. A few good sources of soluble fiber are…

  • Oatmeal
  • Oat bran
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Prunes
  • Brussels sprouts

You can see a more complete list including a breakdown of soluble fiber and total fiber by using the link below. 

Soluble Fiber Facts 

It is estimated that eating 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber per day can reduce your LDL cholesterol by 5%. It is possible to get nearly 5 grams of soluble fiber by eating a good size bowl of oatmeal or other cereal made from oat bran. Check the labels.

Get Plenty Of Fruits, Vegetables, And Grains

Of course each of these contains fiber. But fruits, vegetables, and grains provide other important components to a low cholesterol diet. 

People living around the Mediterranean have always included ample portions of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are very high in a variety of different antioxidants. 

All of us are aware that antioxidants are good for us. But they become even more important to heart health when we consider that LDL oxidation is a leading cause of atherosclerosis build-up. Diets high in fruits and vegetables provide the antioxidants which can reduce LDL oxidation. 

One compound that has been shown very powerful in the prevention of LDL oxidation is CoQ10. As we get older our bodies do not produce ample amounts of CoQ10.

It may, therefore, be helpful to take CoQ10 supplements.

Many of us may shy away from bread because of the low-carb craze. However, we need a good supply of whole grains in our low cholesterol diet. This is especially true of whole-grain oats which have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol. 

When you eat bread choose wisely. Buy whole grain breads. Better still…

Buy a quality bread machine and make your own.

If you really want to be a purist grind your own whole grains just before making the bread.

Go Nuts

Certain nuts can be an important part of a low cholesterol diet. For example… Walnuts

Walnuts have been shown to significantly reduce blood cholesterol. They also help to keep blood vessels elastic and healthy. That is because walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. 

Almonds provide a similar benefit. One study showed that men and women with high cholesterol reduced their LDL cholesterol up to 9.4% by eating 74 grams (about two handfuls) of almonds per day. Other nuts that help reduce LDL cholesterol are…

  • Pecans
  • Peanuts
  • Macadamia
  • Pistachios

Nuts do not contain cholesterol. And they are a good source of protein. However, that doesn’t mean you should eat them like candy. Nuts are most beneficial if they replace other high fat foods instead of being added to your diet.

Nuts are high in calories and can add to weight gain. 1/3 cup of walnuts contains about 240 calories. That is 20% of a 1,200 calorie per day diet.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids And A Low Cholesterol Diet

Sufficient amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in a low cholesterol diet. Populations that eat foods rich in Omega-3 and low in saturated fats have a significantly lower risk of heart disease. 

Omega-3 is well known for its triglyceride lowering qualities. TheAmerican Heart Association recommends 2-4 grams of Omega-3 (especially from fish) for anyone with high triglycerides. It also recommends at least 1 gram of Omega-3 per day for anyone with coronary heart disease

Research has also shown that Omega-3…

As you cut out those foods high in saturated fats replace them with foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Vegetable sources of Omega-3 (ALA) include…

  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Canola oil
  • Soybean oil

The more potent forms of Omega-3 (EPA and DHA) are found in cold-water oily fish. Many of us prefer the warm water white meat varieties. But these have relatively low levels of EPA and DHA. The best sources for EPA and DHA are…

  • Albacore tuna
  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Lake trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
The wild varieties are higher in Omega-3 than farm-raised. 

Eat plenty of the fish listed above. At least two servings a week. If you can’t eat enough then take a high quality fish oil supplement.

You Can Make The Difference

The incidence of heart disease is usually higher in cities compared to rural areas. This is largely due to dietary differences. By adhering to a low cholesterol diet – a diet designed to reduce blood cholesterol levels – you can greatly reduce your likelihood of suffering from heart disease. 

Eat well and make sure you get plenty of Omega-3, either through your diet or by taking good fish oil supplements. CoQ10 is also especially helpful for reducing LDL oxidation. To get enough you will most likely have to take supplements. 


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