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The Benefits of Eating a Low Cholesterol Diet

Updated on October 28, 2013

High cholesterol is one of the leading causes of heart disease today. Individuals with clogged arteries may have to undergo dangerous and invasive surgeries to undo the damage from years of poor diet and genetics. Even after heart bypass surgery, stints, or other procedures, it is important to consume a diet that will not cause the plaque in the arteries to return. While some of your favorite foods may appear below under Foods to avoid or Limit, it is important to understand that there are plenty of healthy and tasty alternatives that will make your heart healthier.

Healthy Diet Low in Cholesterol Can Reduce Levels by 10%-30%

Studies show that heart health and cholesterol levels can be improved in a relatively short period while eating a diet rich with green leafy vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lean meats, fruits, and nuts. The big challenge with switching gears and opting for healthy foods is that you must clear your office and your home of potential triggers. Do away with processed foods and foods that are made from refined sugars and white flour. Substitute instead foods high in fiber that will help you feel satisfied longer while the food is working diligently to remove the cholesterol from your arteries. In as little as 30 days, if you refrain from eating high-fat, high calorie foods, you should see a noticeable difference in your cholesterol numbers.

3 Foods That Naturally Reduce Cholesterol

Yes, there are super foods out there that will help you reduced the bad cholesterol in your body. Adding these to your diet helps to breakdown the bad cholesterol and increases levels of good cholesterol.

  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: 2 tablespoons a day of extra-virgin olive oil can help lower your cholesterol. Use it on salads, in marinades, and as a substitute for butter and other fats.
  • Nuts: Nuts are a great snack or addition to breakfasts or salads. 1.5 ounces a day of almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios or walnuts will help your body fight cholesterol. The polyunsaturated fatty acids found in some nuts help to keep blood vessels healthy and strong.
  • Oatmeal: Oatmeal is rich in the soluble fiber that reduces the bad cholesterol lurking in your arteries. Research indicates that 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your cholesterol. Just 1 ½ cups of cooked oatmeal gives you 6 grams and by adding fresh fruit or berries, you can exceed the recommended levels.

Healthy Breakfasts

Oatmeal is one of nature’s super foods that research shows can effectively and quickly reduce the bad cholesterol in your system. It is also filling and is the perfect vehicle for fresh fruits and nuts. Stay away from instant oatmeal and instead choose either quick oats, or old-fashioned oats for the best results. In addition to oatmeal, nonfat Greek yogurt is an ideal breakfast; it is low in calories and high in protein to ensure that you have the energy you need to jump-start your day. Many people enjoy a concoction of yogurt, mixed with a couple of tablespoons of raw oats, fresh fruit, nuts, and just a touch of honey. This is a great breakfast for those looking to reduce their cholesterol.

Healthy Lunches

Lean meats are ideal for healthy lunches. Tuna packed in water is low in calories and high in protein and is easy to eat at home or the office. Couple the tuna with some whole grain crackers and a small salad dressed with a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing and you will be satisfied until dinner. Chicken is also a great protein for individuals that are looking to lose weight and lower their bad cholesterol levels. Leftover baked chicken can be placed on top of a salad dressed with a low cholesterol salad dressing or simply a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice. Toss on a few nuts for some extra crunch, and you will be satisfied until dinner.

Healthy Dinners

Fish and seafood are an excellent source of lean protein. Shrimp, scallops, tuna, halibut, red snapper, and many other varieties are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids that help to raise the good cholesterol, while lowering bad cholesterol. When cooking meals, remember to avoid butter and instead choose olive oil or safflower oil, and then use sparingly. For a delicious and health dinner, gently sauté shrimp in a touch of oil, add shallots and garlic and chicken stock or white wine and let simmer for 5 minutes. This is great over brown rice or whole grain pasta. Serve with your favorite green vegetable like asparagus, broccoli, spinach, kale or other greens.

Healthy Snacks

Low cholesterol diets do not mean that you starve yourself or that you cannot have snacks. Healthy snacks can help you get through morning, afternoon or evening cravings. It is important to have a plethora of healthy snacks to avoid the salty fatty snacks of chips. Nuts, fresh and dried fruit, whole grain crackers, and air popped popcorn are great snacks that are filling while still encouraging your body to flush out the dangerous cholesterol in your arteries.

Foods To Avoid Or Limit

Now to the list of foods to avoid or limit, altogether. Eggs are not evil, in fact they are low in calories and high in protein; however for individuals looking to reduce their cholesterol levels, limit whole eggs to two per week. Avoid butter, trans fat laced margarines, and all forms of polyunsaturated oils. Limit all but the leanest of meats; no bacon, sausage, or beef that is marbled with fat. Eat cheeses and other dairy products in moderation and when possible choose low fat varieties.

A low cholesterol diet does not have to be boring or bland. Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, fresh fruit and berries, nuts, lean proteins, whole grains and before you know it your cholesterol levels will decrease. A healthy diet is a much better solution that invasive surgery or medications; eat wise, hydrate and exercise regularly to be in the best health of your life.

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    • profile image

      Carolyn VandenAvond 5 months ago

      Is it okay to use eggbeaters if cholesterol is high?

    • profile image

      Peter McDonald 23 months ago

      "The polyunsaturated fatty acids found in some nuts help to keep blood vessels healthy and strong."

      "Avoid butter, trans fat laced margarines, and all forms of polyunsaturated oils."

      can someone explain the blatant contradiction in the article?

    • profile image

      Justin 2 years ago

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    • profile image

      Pharme73 3 years ago

      Wow, wonderful blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is excellent, as well as the content! fddeeed

    • profile image

      Evan J. White 3 years ago

      Cholesteral is used for a plethora of amazing things. First and foremost, it is converted into bile by the liver and stored in the gall bladder. Bile is is used to emulsify fats for digestion and it helps the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Next on the list, it is used to water proof cells for bettering electrical conductivity. This is why it is found in high amounts throughout the brain and the central nervous system. It is used to insulate neurons for the same reason. Last but not least it is a sterol, which is a steroid alcohol. It can be converted into the following hormones: testosterone, estrogens, androgen, aldosterone, and cortisol. The reason it can be potentially bad for you is because most diets are high in LDL carriers (low-density lipoproteins), which takes cholesterol from the liver and stores it in tissues throughout the body, like your artery walls. HDL (high-density lipoproteins) do the exact opposite of LDL. The remove the cholesterol from you arteries and tissues and bring it back to the liver to be used in it's intended way. Olive oil DOESN'T lower your cholesterol. It raises HDL levels so your body can use it.

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      Tyler Gierke 4 years ago from Chicago IL

      great hub you have here!

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      Up and useful. Nuts are a great and tasty addition to the diet, as they often replace the bad snacks, but still taste good!

      Pinned, tweeted and shared.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I know that when I had high cholesterol, eating oat-based foods helped me reduce it.

    • Londonlady profile image

      Laura Writes 4 years ago

      Good information, this hub looks delicious! :)

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      A very informative and useful hub. It´s good to know what foods to avoid. Thanks for sharing.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      A really useful hub. It is necessary to keep cholesterol levels under control to prevent a lot of issues with heart disease and stroke.

      voted up, useful, interesting and shared.

    • Indian Chef profile image

      Indian Chef 4 years ago from New Delhi India

      Yes I like oat meals and have many dishes made from it. Already published one blog on oats upma.. easy to make and healthy to eat..Thanks for sharing.

    • Laurinzo Scott profile image

      Live To Write 4 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

      This is an awesome hub... I am definitely sharing this VERY useful information... and linking it to a hub of mine

      SinceI am taking charge of my health of recent this one will definitely be saved and re-read ( a few times...)