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Diet for cholesterol patients 

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The first thing a cholesterol patient is advised on is to change his diet. This change in diet is not a weight loss quick fix but a total change in the way the patient would buy food, cook it and ultimately eat it.

In a nutshell, in order to have an ideal diet to reduce cholesterol levels, the patient should keep in mind the following cardinal rules:

  • Decrease the intake of total dietary fat, especially saturated fat
  • Decrease the intake of sodium
  • Increase the consumption of fiber and complex carbohydrates

Decrease the intake of total dietary fat, especially saturated fat

In order to improve cholesterol levels, a total elimination of dietary fats is not recommended. Some fats are actually good for the heart as they reduce high cholesterol level. Fats can be classified as good fats and bad fats.

The good fats are polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat.

Polyunsaturated fat (Good fat)

Polyunsaturated fat is present in food items like flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. These are healthy food items and are also effective in reducing cholesterol levels. Another type of polyunsaturated fat is Omega-3 fats. A cholesterol patient should have fish two to three times a week to increase his consumption of polyunsaturated fat. Fishes rich in polyunsaturated fats are salmon and mackerel.

Sources of Polyunsaturated fat are 
Cereal, Corn oil, Soft/Squeeze, Margarine, Oatmeal, Soybean oil, Sunflower oil, Whole grain wheat, Fishes like salmon and mackerel


Monounsaturated fat (Good fat)

Monounsaturated fats also have the capacity to lower total cholesterol level and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) level while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) level. This type of fat is usually present in plant oils, nuts and seeds.

Sources of monounsaturated fat are a
vocados, canola oil, cereal flaxseed oil, grape seed oil, ground nut oil, oatmeal, olive oil, peanut oil and other nuts, popcorn, safflower oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, tea-oil Camellia, whole grain wheat, nuts such as pecans, almonds and hazelnuts, seeds such as pumpkin and sesame

However, it is advised to cook using oils rich in monosaturated fat, especially olive oil. This is because olive oil has the highest oxidation threshold and therefore remains stable even at high temperatures. Hence, olive oil does not become hydrogenated or saturated easily.

The bad fats are Saturated fat and Trans/hydrogenated fats

 Saturated Fat (Bad fat)

Consumption of saturated fat leads to an increase of total blood cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol. These fats are usually present in animal products.  

Sources of Saturated Fats are b
eef,  lamb, pork, butter, cheese, cream, whole-milk, dairy products, coconut oil

Trans fats and hydrogenated fats (Bad fat)

Trans fats are the result of hydrogenation of liquid oils. The idea behind the invention of Trans fat was that people wanted a fat that can withstand better in food production processes as well as have a better shelf life.

Sources of Trans fats and hydrogenated fats are c
ommercially packaged foods, commercially fried food such as French Fries from some fast food chains, packaged snacks such as micro waved popcorn, vegetable shortening, hard stick margarine

Decrease the intake of sodium

The sodium content in food should be restricted. Patients suffering from high cholesterol level usually have high blood pressure too. Restricted sodium intake also keeps blood pressure within normal limits.

The most common source of sodium is table salt which is half sodium. Other sources of sodium are commercially processed foods as well as common medications like antacids, laxatives and cough remedies. 

In order to reduce the intake of sodium, one must always read product labels and use products with no more than 300 mg of sodium per serving. An easy way of avoiding sodium is by using herbs and spices in place of salt to add flavor and variety to meals.

Increase the consumption of fiber and complex carbohydrates

In order to have a healthy diet that reduces cholesterol levels, one should follow the following tips: 

Increase the consumption complex carbohydrates like pasta, whole grains and potatoes. These carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy. However, commercially prepared products like baked goods, cookies and crackers should be carefully chosen after reading the product levels completely. This is because these products are usually prepared using highly saturated fats such as coconut or palm oils and hydrogenated fats.

About 20 to 30 grams of dietary fiber should be consumed every day. Food items like legumes, oats, barley, brown rice, apples, strawberries and carrots should be made a part of regular diet as they are rich in soluble fiber.

Research indicates that soluble fiber is effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels. Supplements such as psylliul mucilloid sold under names like Konsyl and Metamucil can effectively lower cholesterol levels up to 15% when used daily. Another source of soluble fiber is Oat bran, which has the same utility.

Next page: Super foods that lower the cholesterol

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: July 26, 2012

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