How This Helps

The human body needs some amount of cholesterol to function correctly. However, if the levels of cholesterol become too high, then it starts to stick to the walls of the arteries. This causes the arteries to become narrow, and eventually completely blocked. This puts you at a high risk of developing coronary heart disease and many other heart-related diseases.1,2

What's a low cholesterol diet?

Dietary Cholesterol and a Low Cholesterol Diet

Your liver starts cutting back on the production of cholesterol if you are getting too much cholesterol from food. Eating large amounts of trans fats, sugars, and saturated fats increase your cholesterol levels. However, there are different types of cholesterol - both good (HDL) and bad (LDL). High levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.3,4 

Following a low cholesterol diet that reduces the levels of LDL, will help you lower the levels of cholesterol. When you add different foods to your low cholesterol diet plan, it helps bring down cholesterol levels in various ways. 

See: Functional medicine for Heart Disease

Low Cholesterol Meal Plan

Low Cholesterol Diet Plan

Here are certain foods that you should include in your low cholesterol diet plan to help lower the levels of cholesterol.

1. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish include tuna, salmon, herring, mussels, anchovies, swordfish, sardines, mackerel, trout, and many others. The omega-3 fatty acids found in these fatty fish reduce triglycerides in your blood, while also protecting your heart by preventing the development of abnormal heart rhythms. Fish has LDL-reducing omega-3 fatty acids, unlike meat, which boosts the LDL levels in the blood.5 

2. Whole grains, especially Oats

A perfect low cholesterol breakfast is made up of different types of whole grains, especially oats. A low cholesterol breakfast of oats provides you with soluble fiber, which has benefits such as decreased lipid levels, weight loss, lower blood pressure, reduced inflammation, etc.6 Oats are rich in plan beta-glucan, which is a form of soluble fiber that is known to reduce cholesterol levels. Consumption of oats helps bring down LDL cholesterol by seven percent. 7 

3. Legumes

Legumes consist of plant foods that include lentils, peas, and beans. Legumes are rich in fiber, protein, and mineral. Including legumes in place of processed meats and refined grains in your low cholesterol diet will lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Regular consumption of soluble fiber present in legumes is known to reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by 5 to 10 percent in just four weeks.8 

4. Nuts 

A low cholesterol meal plan should be peppered with a variety of nuts. Many studies have found that eating macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and any other nuts are excellent for heart health.9 Include 2 ounces of nuts throughout the day to lower LDL by 5 percent. 

5. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is primarily made up of cocoa. Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which are a type of antioxidant that helps decrease the levels of LDL cholesterol. However, you need to keep your consumption in check, as chocolate also contains high levels of saturated fat and sugar. At the same time, research has shown that consumption of dark chocolate helps boost the levels of good cholesterol, or HDL cholesterol.10  Studies have also found that regular use of dark chocolate significantly lowers the risk of heart disease.11 

See: How to heal leaky gut naturally

Summary

Having high levels of LDL cholesterol is known to increase the risk of developing heart disease and many other lifestyle diseases. By incorporating a low cholesterol diet plan and following a low cholesterol meal plan, you can lower your cholesterol levels and keep them in control in the long run as well. 

Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, cooking with different herbs and spices, loading up on soluble fiber, and increasing the intake of unsaturated fats, can all help reduce cholesterol levels, thus reducing your health risks.

See: Herbs That Lower Blood Sugar

References

1. Huxley, R., Lewington, S., & Clarke, R. (2002). Cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and stroke: a review of published evidence from observational studies and randomized controlled trials. In Seminars in vascular medicine (Vol. 2, No. 03, pp. 315-324). Copyright© 2002 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA. Tel.:+ 1 (212) 584-4662. 

2. O'Keefe, C. E., Hahn, D. F., & Betts, N. M. (1991). Physicians' perspectives on cholesterol and heart disease. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 91(2), 189-192.

3. Holvoet, P., Mertens, A., Verhamme, P., Bogaerts, K., Beyens, G., Verhaeghe, R., ... & Van de Werf, F. (2001). Circulating oxidized LDL is a useful marker for identifying patients with coronary artery disease. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology, 21(5), 844-848.

4. Tsimikas, S., Bergmark, C., Beyer, R. W., Patel, R., Pattison, J., Miller, E., ... & Witztum, J. L. (2003). Temporal increases in plasma markers of oxidized low-density lipoprotein strongly reflect the presence of acute coronary syndromes. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 41(3), 360-370.

5. Clandinin, M. T., Foxwell, A., Goh, Y. K., Layne, K., & Jumpsen, J. A. (1997). Omega-3 fatty acid intake results in a relationship between the fatty acid composition of LDL cholesterol ester and LDL cholesterol content in humans. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Lipids and Lipid Metabolism, 1346(3), 247-252.

6. Surampudi, P., Enkhmaa, B., Anuurad, E., & Berglund, L. (2016). Lipid-lowering with soluble dietary fiber. Current atherosclerosis reports, 18(12), 75.

7. Othman, R. A., Moghadasian, M. H., & Jones, P. J. (2011). Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan. Nutrition reviews, 69(6), 299-309.

8. Jenkins, D., Wolever, T., Rao, A. V., Hegele, R. A., Mitchell, S. J., Ransom, T., ... & Relle, L. K. (1993). Effect on blood lipids of very high intakes of fiber in diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol. New England Journal of Medicine, 329(1), 21-26.

9. Chisholm, A., Mc Auley, K., Mann, J., Williams, S., & Skeaff, M. (2005). Cholesterol-lowering effects of nuts compared with a Canola oil enriched cereal of similar fat composition. Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases, 15(4), 284-292.

10. Mursu, J., Voutilainen, S., Nurmi, T., Rissanen, T. H., Virtanen, J. K., Kaikkonen, J., ... & Salonen, J. T. (2004). Dark chocolate consumption increases HDL cholesterol concentration, and chocolate fatty acids may inhibit lipid peroxidation in healthy humans. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 37(9), 1351-1359.

11. Allen, R. R., Carson, L., Kwik-Uribe, C., Evans, E. M., & Erdman Jr, J. W. (2008). Daily consumption of dark chocolate containing flavanols and added sterol esters affects cardiovascular risk factors in a normotensive population with elevated cholesterol. The Journal of nutrition, 138(4), 725-731.

See: Broccoli Nutrition & Health Benefits Diabetes, Cancer, Heart

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