The diet taken to lower cholesterol should be low in saturated fats, trans fats and sugars so as to improve blood circulation and reduce the risk of fat accumulating in the blood, hence avoiding cardiovascular diseases such as infarction or stroke.
It is also important to increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole foods that are rich in fiber as they help control blood cholesterol levels by decreasing their absorption at the intestinal level.
In addition, the diet should be accompanied by some physical activity at least 3 times a week for an hour. This is because exercise favors weight loss and increased muscle mass which therefore results in decreased cholesterol levels and improves health.
Foods allowed in the diet
Foods that should be included in the diet so as to lower the amount of cholesterol include:
- Foods rich in fiber: One should give preference to the consumption of oats, brown bread, brown rice, wholemeal such as carob flour, almonds and buckwheat.
- Fruits and vegetables: Should be taken preferably raw and peeled to increase the amount of fiber, and 3 to 5 portions of these foods should be consumed per day.
- Increase the consumption of legumes: Such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and soybeans, and they should be consumed 2 times a week;
- Dried fruits: Such as walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts and peanuts. Apart from providing fibres in the body, they are also rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, which favor the increase in good cholesterol, HDL. It is important to note that small amounts should be consumed daily since their caloric intake is high.
- Milk and skimmed dairy products: Preference should be given to low-fat foods like white cheeses and sugar-free natural yogurt.
- White meats: Like chicken, fish and turkey.
In addition, food should be cooked or steamed, avoiding fried foods, stews, ready-made seasonings and sauces. To flavor the foods it is advisable to use natural seasonings such as rosemary, oregano, coriander or parsley.
It is also important to take about 2.5L of water per day and take 3 main meals and 2 snacks as this will control weight.
There are some foods that can be included in the diet to regulate blood cholesterol levels due to their properties. These foods are:
|Food||Properties||How to consume|
|Tomato, guava, watermelon, grapefruit and carrot||These foods contain lycopene, which is a substance with antioxidant properties that helps lower bad cholesterol, LDL, blood and increase good cholesterol, HDL.||They can be used to prepare salads, natural sauces, juices or vitamins.|
|Red wine||This drink contains resveratrol and other compounds that act as antioxidants and prevent fat molecules from being deposited in the wall of the arteries, thus favoring blood circulation.||Only 1 to 2 glasses of wine should be consumed for lunch or dinner.|
|Salmon, hake, tuna, nuts and chia seeds||They are rich in omega 3s with anti-inflammatory properties, and also help prevent the emergence of clots that can clog the arteries and lead to infarction, in addition to preventing the formation of fat plaques in the arteries.||These foods should be included in the food in a variety of ways and should be consumed 3 to 4 times a week at least.|
|Purple grapes||This fruit is rich in resveratrol, tannins and flavonoids, which are compounds that exert a powerful antioxidant effect, helping to relax blood vessels and lower cholesterol.||They can be used in juices or consumed as dessert.|
|Garlic/black garlic||It contains a substance called allicin, which fights levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), helps reduce blood pressure and prevents the formation of thrombi, thereby decreasing the risk of heart attack.||Can be used to season food.|
|Olive oil||Prevents cholesterol oxidation, has anti-inflammatory properties and lowers blood pressure.||At least 1 scoop of olive oil should be added per day and can be added in salads or food after ready, since when heated, olive oil may lose its properties.|
|Lemon||It contains antioxidants that prevent the oxidation of good cholesterol, HDL.||You can add lemon juice in salads or mix with other juices or teas.|
|Oats||It is rich in beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol levels.||It can be added in juices or vitamins or used in the preparation of cakes and biscuits. It is also possible to consume 1 cup of oatmeal for breakfast or use oat milk in place of cow’s milk.|
|Artichoke||It is a plant rich in fiber and luteolin, an antioxidant that prevents the increase in cholesterol and favors the increase of good cholesterol (HDL).||This plant can be cooked and accompany meals, and can also be consumed in the form of supplement or tea.|
|Cinnamon and turmeric||These condiments are rich in antioxidants and fibers that help improve blood circulation and favor lowering cholesterol.||These aromatic condiments can be used in food preparation.|
Some teas can also be included in the natural options for lowering cholesterol, such as artichoke tea or dandelion tea.
Foods to avoid
Some foods that favor the increase in bad cholesterol (LDL) because they are high in saturated fats, transfats and sugars are:
- Animal guts such as liver, kidneys and heart
- Sausages such as sausages, chorizo, bacon, salamat and ham
- Red meats rich in fat
- Whole milk, yogurt with sugar, butter and margarine
- Yellow cheeses and cream cheese
- Ketchup sauces, mayonnaise, aioli, barbecue, among others
- Oils and fried foods in general
- Processed or frozen foods and fast-food
In addition, foods rich in sugar such as cakes, biscuits and chocolates should not be consumed because they contain excess sugar that is accumulated in form of fat and this favors the production of cholesterol in the liver.
In addition, foods rich in sugar such as cakes, biscuits and chocolates should also not be consumed, this because excess sugar is accumulated in the form of fat and favors the production of cholesterol in the liver.
The following table indicates a 3-day menu example that shows how foods that help lower cholesterol can be consumed:
|Meals||Day 1||Day 2||Day 3|
|Breakfast||1 cup oatmilk + 1 slice of toasted wholemeal bread with peanut butter||1 cup unsweeto-free coffee accompanied by 1 slice of wholegrain bread with 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese + 2 cups purple grapes||1 cup flaked oatmeal with 1 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/2 cup sliced fruit + 1 cup unsweetoorange juice|
|Morning snack||1 cup natural unsweetot grape juice with 1 tablespoon oatmeal + 30 g walnuts||1 medium banana cut into slices with 1 tablespoon oatmeal||1 natural unsweetoyogurt + 1/2 cup sliced fruit + 1 teaspoon chia seeds|
|Lunch/ Dinner||Mashed potatoes with grilled salmon + 1/2 cup broccoli salad and cooked carrot seasoned with 1 teaspoon olive oil + 1 apple||Whole meal pasta with diced turkey breast and prepared with natural tomato sauce and oregano + steamed spinach salad seasoned with 1 teaspoon olive oil + 1 pear||Sautéed asparagus with grilled chicken + salad with lettuce, carrot tomatoes + 1 teaspoon olive oil + 1 cup purple grapes.|
|Afternoon snack||1 natural unsweetod yogurt with fruit pieces + 1 tablespoon chia seeds||1 cup diced watermelon||1 vitamin (200 mL) avocado with natural yogurt + 1 teaspoon of seed, accompanied by 30 g of almonds.|
|Evening snack||1 cup unsweetoused artichoke tea||1 cup sugar-free dandelion tea||1 cup sugar-free turmeric tea|
The quantities indicated in the menu may vary according to age, gender, physical activity or whether the person has any other associated disease or not. It is therefore ideal to consult a nutritionist so that they make a complete evaluation and elaborate a nutrition plan that is appropriate to their needs.
Does the egg raise cholesterol?
Egg yolk is high in cholesterol but some studies show that cholesterol that is found naturally in foods have a lower risk of causing harm unlike cholesterol found in processed foods.
The American Heart Association, therefore, recommends that a healthy person can consume 1 to 2 units of eggs per day. In the case of people with diabetes or heart disease, the ideal is consuming 1 unit per day. For this reason, it is possible to include the egg in the diet to lower cholesterol provided that it is not consumed in excess.
How to tell if cholesterol is good
To know if cholesterol is within the appropriate levels that do not pose a health risk, it is important to do a blood dosage of total cholesterol and fractions such as LDL, HDL and triglycerides, which should be prescribed by a doctor. If you have had a blood test recently, you can use the Friedwald’s formula to calculate your cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol levels can be measured both when fasting up to 12 hours and when not fasting. However, it is important to follow the doctor’s advice especially if another test has been indicated.