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Dietary Approach to Cholesterol

The US National Cholesterol and Education Program (2001) suggests that adult with elevated cholesterol levels should use diet to control cholesterol before trying medication.

They recommend reducing saturated fats in your diet. According to them this is the first step to take to prevent heart disease. They specifically recommend that less than 7 percent of your calories should come from saturated fats and that you consume less than 200 mg of dietary cholesterol. However they allow up to 35 percent of calories from fats provided that most of it comes from unsaturated fats which do not cause a rise in cholesterol.

The reason for limiting saturated fats intake is that they increase cholesterol levels in your blood, more than consuming cholesterol directly for example from eating an egg.

So here is what you should do.

Limit your consumption of red meat and avoid fats in meat e.g. from chicken skin. You should also avoid any kind of processed meat. Be wary of deep fried foods and fast food as they contain hidden fats. You should avoid foods that are partially or fully hydrogenated as they contain trans fatty acids which raises your LDL or bad cholesterol.

Reduce your intake of simple carbohydrates and oily foods. You should also reduce your sugar intake or choose foods that are low in sugar. If possible stay away from food with gravy and sauces as they tend to be high in fats.

Finally reduce or eliminate alcohol as they raise your triglyceride level in your blood.

The US National Cholesterol and Education Program (2001) encourages the consumption of food rich in soluble and insoluble fiber such as cereal grains, peas, legumes and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

So here is what you should eat.

Eat fowls without the skin. Substitute meat with cold water fish as they contain omega-3 fatty acids that do not raise LDL or bad cholesterol. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. They are a rich source of soluble and insoluble fibers. In addition, they contain vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients which are rich in antioxidants.

Instead of frying, bake, boil, poach or steam your food. Eat beans, lentils, grains and nut. Reduce you intake of rice. Instead consume pasta and oatmeal. Use fats sparingly. Put less butter on your bread and less salad dressing on your salads. Use garlic generously in your cooking and drink plenty of water.

It is also a good idea to buy a book or search on the internet for information on calories and amount of saturated fats in various foods. Also read labels before you make a purchase. This will help you to keep your saturated food intake to less than 7 percent of your daily calorie needs.

Follow this diet strictly for 6 weeks and take another cholesterol test. You should see some results. Stick to the diet and your cholesterol level should continue to improve.

In addition to the diet, you should also make some healthy modification to your lifestyle. Stop smoking and begin an exercise program. If you are overweight, get your weight down to normal or slightly below normal. Take some extra food supplements and herbs. And finally stay positive!

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