High cholesterol is the leading cause of heart disease which can lead to a heart attack or death. In the United States, high cholesterol is often the result of high fat diets. Once you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, your doctor may suggest you take medication to help lower your cholesterol. However, your doctor may insist you alter your diet and find one that is best suited for high cholesterol. In addition to asking your doctor for pamphlets and information, there are some steps you can take to find your own diet for high cholesterol.
Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. The doctors at WebMd suggest that increasing dietary fiber can help lower the bad LDL cholesterol number. LDL is the main source of cholesterol that builds up and blocks the arteries. If your LDL number is above 160 mg/dL it is too high and you need to work on lowering it. In addition to fruits and vegetables, they also suggest adding whole grains and legumes.
Know your cholesterol numbers and use them to find your diet. Cholesterol numbers are broken down into good cholesterol or HDL and bad cholesterol or LDL and triglycerides. If your HDL or good cholesterol is lower than 40 mg/dL you are at risk for heart disease; ideally your HDL should be 60 mg/DL or more. LDL or bad cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL and your triglycerides should be below 150 mg/dL; anything higher puts you at risk for heart disease.
Using these numbers, the National Cholesterol Education Program, a division of the National Institute of Public Health offers guidance on lowering LDL and increasing HDL. Their TLC Diet is based on a low-saturated fat diet that contains less than 7% of calories from saturated fat and by increasing fiber intake. (See Resources)
Choose the best foods for lowering cholesterol levels. Doctors and dietitians at Health Care Magic have suggestions for foods that should be included in a healthy diet plan that is designed to help lower cholesterol. These foods can be used to create a diet plan that will effectively lower your cholesterol and get your heart on its way to health, such as using olive oil instead of butter or animal fats. Adding soluble fibers, a common thread among all high cholesterol diets is also suggested. Soluble fiber foods include oatmeal, pears, and prunes to name a few. The fiber acts as a sponge that can help the body soak up the cholesterol that is entering your body and keep it from entering the bloodstream and blocking arteries. Increasing fruits, vegetables, and fibers and switching from animal oils to olive oil are just a few of the ways you can alter your diet in order to lower your cholesterol and in combination with medications keep your arteries free from plaque.