When most people hear the word diet the first thing that comes to mind is starving yourself. Well, don’t worry because that is not what we are aiming for here in this article. What my goal is instead, is to show you that a few simple changes in your food choices can make a huge difference in your health and specifically your cholesterol. So, instead of saying diets to lower cholesterol maybe food choices to lower cholesterol would be better.
To get started let’s first look at the two types of cholesterol: the Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) and the High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL). LDL refers to the bad type of cholesterol that is known to clog blood vessels, thus, increasing the risk for a heart attack or heart disease. HDL is the good type of cholesterol that helps clear LDL cholesterol out of the blood stream, thus, reducing the risk for heart disease.
Let’s first look at food choices we can make in order to lower LDL levels. Unfortunately, there are many foods and the way they are prepared that are high in bad fats, such as saturated and trans fat. These types of bad fats contribute to high levels of LDL cholesterol. So, in order to stop contributing to the high levels of LDL cholesterol, we need to avoid foods that are high in bad fats such as processed meats, hydrogenated oils, butter, whole milk dairy products and processed grain products (bakery goods) to name a few.
Instead, we should look at healthier alternative choices. For example, when ordering at a restaurant or cooking at home, you should avoid fried foods. A healthier alternative would be grilled or baked food. Steamed vegetables, salad and beans are excellent choices for side items to the main dish. Fish, chicken, turkey and lean cuts of pork are healthy alternatives to processed and red meats. Also, not only are all of these examples healthier for you, they taste delicious as well.
You should also be aware that not all fats are bad for you. In fact, there are good fats that include, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These types of fats are known to lower the risk for heart disease and help raise HDL cholesterol. These good fats are found in vegetable oils, most nuts, olives, avocados and fatty fish such as salmon.. The key is to substitute good fats for bad fats. Like using olive oil to cook with or as a salad dressing.
The key for diets to lower cholesterol is to make the healthy choices. Basically, just substitute the bad for the good and remember that just because it’s a healthier alternative, doesn’t mean it’s going to taste bad. In fact, you might be surprised how delicious healthy foods taste.