What is a good diet for high cholesterol?

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Answered by: Lynn, An Expert in the Heart Healthy Diets Category
A healthy lifestyle including a diet for high cholesterol prevents and reduces high cholesterol, cutting your risk for developing serious medical conditions like heart attack and stroke. Moderately high cholesterol levels throughout a lifetime may lead to illnesses in your senior years. The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation cites a study by Kaiser Permanente which links mildly elevated cholesterol levels in a person's midlife with Alzheimer’s in their later years. Lack of exercise, poor diet, obesity, heredity, age and gender are risk factors for developing high blood cholesterol. A person can control three of these root causes through a proper diet, regular exercise and eating a reduced-calorie diet.

Laboratory blood tests measure different components associated with cholesterol to determine your risk for heart disease. LDL introduces cholesterol into the bloodstream; therefore high levels of LDL are associated with increased risk for heart disease. HDL scrapes hardened cholesterol from arterial walls and transports excess cholesterol to the liver, where it is processed and eliminated from the body. High levels of HDL are associated with low levels of heart disease because HDL reduces the amount of cholesterol in the blood. A diet for high cholesterol and exercise programs should focus on reducing LDL and increasing HDL.

A diet for high cholesterol features a low-fat, low-cholesterol foods which are high in fiber along with regular exercise. This diet plan introduces less cholesterol into the bloodstream, working to reduce the damage done by high cholesterol. Whole grain foods, like whole wheat bread and nuts, contain insoluble fiber, adding volume to food and leaves you more satisfied and less likely to snack. Fruits and vegetables, like bananas and kidney beans, contain soluble fiber, known to be beneficial to HDL levels.

Eating saturated fat increases LDL more than anything else in your diet. Animal products like poultry, beef and dairy contain saturated fat. Food manufacturers use trans fats to extend shelf life of snack cakes and other baked treats, and to give products a creamier texture. Trans fats raise cholesterol levels, as do those foods containing high amounts of dietary cholesterol. Animals produce cholesterol in their livers. Animal products, like meat, eggs, milk and cheese contain cholesterol.

A person with high cholesterol or other risks for heart disease, such as smoking or obesity, should get 25 to 35 percent of their daily calories from fat, and should reduce dietary cholesterol to less than 200 mg per day. A person should seek to get less than 7 percent of his calories from saturated fat, and less than 1 percent from trans fats.

Lower your blood cholesterol by raising HDL through a specially designed diet for high cholesterol. Plan to exercise for a half hour on 5 days a week for two months to raise your HDL by about 5 percent, according to Mayo Clinic. Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon or mackerel which are known to be beneficial to HDL.

Keep your diet for high cholesterol sustainable by learning which foods suit your taste buds. You are more likely to stick with a diet plan if you like the food. Find low fat desserts to treat yourself on a regular basis without raising cholesterol. Don’t punish yourself for falling off the wagon- just make better choices in the future.

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