There are many different diet plans on the market today that claim spectacular reductions in cholesterol levels in a very short period of time. Unfortunately, not all of them make use of the same types of foods to achieve this goal. This often leaves the consumer who wishes to lower bad cholesterol while maintaining or elevating good cholesterol somewhat bewildered. Here are some tips that will help you identify the best cholesterol-free diet for your situation, and make sure you maintain healthy levels of both HDL and LDL cholesterol.
Many people are unaware of the fact that cholesterol is not all bad. In fact, the body does need some amount of cholesterol to function properly. The problem arises when there is too much of the bad cholesterol in the system and not enough of the good type.
LDL, or low density lipoproteins, are identified as bad cholesterol. Produced in the liver, these lipoproteins are composed of proteins, cholesterol and triglycerides manufactured by the body as well as consumed from food. As this type of lipoprotein travels through the bloodstream, it drops off each component where it can be used beneficially. However, when foods high in cholesterol content are consistently consumed, the bloodstream becomes over-saturated with the excess. This can lead to the development of cardiovascular problems, such as a heart attack or stroke.
HDL, or high density lipoproteins, are considered good cholesterol. Also produced in the liver, this type of lipoprotein carries much less cholesterol than LDL and also has the ability to pick up excess cholesterol in the blood. The excess is returned to the liver and is reprocessed for use in the body or for expulsion through waste. Unlike LDL, HDL cannot be obtained from food consumption. It is only created by the body’s natural processes and cannot be ingested by taking supplements.
The best cholesterol-free diet will minimize or eliminate any foods that lead to elevated cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Essentially, animal products are the main dietary sources of cholesterol as they contain higher levels of saturated fat. This means that diets should call for minimizing or eliminating meats such as beef in daily food consumption. Dairy products such as eggs, milk and butter should also be removed. Oils such as palm or coconut should also be avoided due to the fat content.
In place of animal products and other foods high in saturated fat, a solid cholesterol-free diet will make excellent use of vegetables. Various types of beans help to provide the body with protein, while green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, and turnip greens supply a wide range of essential nutrients. Oils that contain polyunsaturated fats are also good options when some type of oil is required. Soybean, safflower, and olive oils are excellent choices. To replace meats, fish is often a good option. Salmon, tuna and several other types of fish contain Omega-3 fatty acids that may help to lower bad cholesterol levels.
Fresh fruits are also necessary components of any cholesterol-free diet. As with fresh vegetables, the fruits provide essential nutrients and also provide a source of fiber. Enjoy cut fruit instead of rich desserts that are made with eggs and milk.
Before embarking on any type of cholesterol-free diet, it is necessary to see your family physician or cardiologist and ask for a blood panel. This type of blood test will help you identify your current LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels and have a basis for selecting a particular cholesterol-free diet plan. Along with changing your eating habits, it is also necessary to initiate a daily exercise program. Exercise helps with your circulation and also promotes the production of good cholesterol in the liver. Higher levels of HDL in the blood will mean a more efficient cleaning of the bloodstream and the expulsion of excess LDL cholesterol from the body.