Losing weight is not the only reason why people make changes to their diet. The food we eat has an effect on our health, so choosing the right diet can help lower or eliminate certain health problems. A cholesterol-lowering diet is a good example. If you have problems with your cholesterol, then what you eat can have a positive effect on your overall health.
If you are not yet on medication for cholesterol, then a diet may prevent you from having to get a prescription. In most cases, once you start taking medicine to control your cholesterol levels, you need to keep taking it. So, it makes a lot of sense to do whatever you can to get your cholesterol under control using natural methods.
Cholesterol occurs in fats known as lipids. It’s soft and waxy and serves some beneficial services in the body. It isn’t dissolved in the bloodstream and is moved from cell to cell by lipoproteins. It’s these lipoproteins that are measured when your cholesterol is checked. The main ones that are being screened for are high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein (HDL and LDL for short, respectively).
A cholesterol-lowering diet helps to lower the amount of LDL, which is commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol. That’s because this is the kind that builds up in the arteries and creates plaque. This slows down the flow of blood to all parts of the body, including the brain and heart. If the flow of blood slows too much or a clot is formed, then it can lead to a heart attack or stroke. For the record, these are two of the leading causes of death, so getting your cholesterol under control could save your life.
The main component of a cholesterol-lowering diet is increasing fiber intake. A breakfast of 1.5 cups of oatmeal (don’t use instant oatmeal) topped with a sliced banana will give you a great start toward getting enough fiber for the day. Have a salad at lunch and garnish it with an ounce or two of almonds or walnuts for a healthy boost of fiber.
The other nutrient that helps manage your cholesterol is omega-3 fatty acids. The best animal source of these is fish (especially salmon), whole flaxseed is the best plant source. Having grilled or baked fish a few times a week, and sprinkling flaxseed on various foods will give you a good amount of omega-3s.
The final element of a cholesterol-lowering diet is finding foods that contain sterols. Nuts and seeds, whole grains, legumes, and wheat germ are good food sources of sterols, but it’s hard to get all you need every day. The good news is that you can by sterol-fortified margarine, juice, energy bars, and cookies. You have to admit that any eating plan that lets you eat cookies is one that will be easy to stick to.