Do you know why eating a low cholesterol diet is good for you? Cholesterol is actually a fat your body naturally produces, so focusing your dieting efforts on a low cholesterol diet helps you eat the “right” foods for weight loss while at the same time reduces your risk of heart disease; two significant health-related benefits.
To achieve the maximum benefits of a low cholesterol diet, take time to understand cholesterol in general. It's really not that difficult, once you figure out a few terms. First off is a clarification of the “good” cholesterol and the “bad” cholesterol. This in itself is confusing because not many things can be both good and bad.
Our bodies, and in particular, the liver, naturally produce most of the cholesterol our cell membranes need to function properly. Consuming a low cholesterol diet fuels this production process. Foods high in saturated fats and trans fats interfere with this process. When the level of bad cholesterol in the blood increases, it begins to stick to the walls of the arteries, and ultimately blocks blood flow which causes heart attacks, strokes and other heart problems.
Limiting the consumption of these “bad” fats, or LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol, is your best defense. That's why doctors recommend eating a low cholesterol diet; one that includes more of the “good” fats. Avoid consuming saturated fats; those found in animals, meats, poultry, high fat dairy products, palm oil, palm kernel oil, cocoa butter and coconut oil. Trans fats are man-made fats and cause even more damage. These fats are produced by hydrogenation, and are in most processed foods, including chips, crackers, cookies, and fast food.
An easier way to distinguish bad fats is their solid state when at room temperature. Consuming more bad fats than good increases LDL cholesterol levels and this is the main cause of blocked arteries. A low cholesterol diet does the reverse.
So what is a good fat? They're the unsaturated fats; the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels. They're liquid at room temperature. Good fats are derived mostly from plants. Vegetable and plant oils, fish and seafood are good sources of HDL cholesterol or “good” fats. These fats help to lower cholesterol and incorporating them into your diet is simple.
To begin a low cholesterol diet, pay attention to the food you eat. Read the labels that show fat levels and ingredients. Eat foods with low levels of total fat and saturated fat. Avoid foods that have the words “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list. These are the trans fats; the ones that add more LDL to the blood and reduce HDL levels.
Add more of the “good” fats or HDLs to your low cholesterol diet; those low in saturated fats. Select vegetable proteins, plant oils, tofu, lentils, soy, avocados, nuts, olive oils in place of animal proteins several times each week. And when you do eat animal fats, first remove all visible fat. These simple low cholesterol dietary changes will make a huge difference in your health!
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