What is a low cholesterol diet?
Hypercholesterolemia is one of the most serious conditions today. Having high blood cholesterol has been shown to be a direct cause of cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol is considered high when total cholesterol is above 200 mg/dl, a situation that is aggravated if it exceeds 250 mg/dl. Some of the most common causes are genetic determinants (the body makes more cholesterol than it needs, and many members of the same family have the problem), poor eating habits (a diet high in saturated fats and sugars and low in fruit and vegetables), obesity and/or diabetes, smoking and lack of physical exercise. Nutrition and dietetics specialists can help you lower your cholesterol levels through healthy eating. A balanced diet and adequate physical exercise improve your general health, and especially your cholesterol levels.
Why is it recommended?
If you have high cholesterol you will need to watch your diet. If you are overweight, this is the first thing you need to correct. After losing weight, you should eat foods that help lower the blood cholesterol levels. Food plays a key role in lowering cholesterol as some foods contain a high amount of cholesterol (those of animal origin, which are usually high in saturated fat), while others contain no cholesterol, such as vegetables, pulses, white meats, white fish and skimmed milk, among others. A nutritionist can study what nutrients and vitamins you need and will provide you with a balanced and personalised low cholesterol diet.
What does it consist of?
As a general rule, a low cholesterol diet should be rich in:
- Fibre, since this reduces the absorption of cholesterol by the intestine
- Saturated fatty acids, as they increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)
- Antioxidants, especially vitamin C and E.
You should also:
- Eat a diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables, with 5 servings a day
- Eat more fish than meat. Red meat should be eaten no more than once a week, white meat three days a week, white fish a minimum of four days a week and oily fish no less than 2 days a week.
- Eliminate fatty sausages
- Moderate your egg consumption (4-6 eggs a week)
- Eliminate saturated fats such as cakes, biscuits and pastries
- Minimise your sugar consumption
- Eat whole grains and legumes
- Avoid fried foods and frying fats.
Preparing for your low cholesterol diet
A nutrition and dietetics specialist should prepare your low cholesterol diet. High cholesterol is often accompanied by weight problems and other diseases (high blood pressure, high uric acid levels, diabetes, etc.). This is why the diet should be personalised as much as possible. The specialist will consider everything you need before, during and after the diet.
Care after the diet
The basic care after a low cholesterol diet should be to maintain these newly acquired healthy habits. The goal of any cholesterol diet is to lower blood cholesterol and to improve any associated pathologies (diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, etc.), to make your life healthier.