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Which Foods Can Lower Cholesterol?

foods that lower cholesterol

There are two main types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL, or Low Density Lipoprotein is commonly known as bad cholesterol, as it can speed up the process of plaque or fatty deposits collecting in your arteries. LDL can also increase your risk of getting heart disease, peripheral artery disease (PAD), or having a stroke. HDL cholesterol, or High Density Lipoprotein is known as good cholesterol because it helps lower the bad cholesterol.

High cholesterol is not good for your health, so it’s important to eat foods that help lower bad cholesterol. Adopting healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices can decrease your risk for PAD, heart attack, and stroke.

Foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat:

  • All animal foods contain cholesterol.
  • Animal fats such as butter, margarine and spreads made from lard, suet and dripping.
  • Processed meat products such as sausages.
  • Full-fat dairy foods such as cheese, yogurt, milk and cream.

Foods high in cholesterol but low in saturated fat:

  • Lean meat such as liver, sweetbreads and offal.
  • The yolk of eggs.
  • Lobster, crabs, prawns and cuttlefish.

When you consume extra cholesterol, your body reduces its production. This inverse is true as well, cholesterol production increases when your intake is low. The liver provides up to 75% of the cholesterol needed by your body, the rest comes from your diet. This is why it’s important to eat foods that lower cholesterol to limit the damage due to LDL.

Foods that can increase your cholesterol level:

  • Fried foods: These high-calorie foods contain trans fats which increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Processed meat: Increases the risk of colon cancer and heart diseases.
  • Fast food: Your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, belly fat and inflammation is increased if you consume too much fast food.
  • Desserts: Added sugar in desserts leads to weight gain, cognitive decline and certain types of cancers.

Foods that can lower cholesterol:

  • Fiber: Consuming high amounts of soluble fiber in fruits, oats and beans help reduce the bad LDL cholesterol level.
  • Omega-3 rich foods: Salmon and fish oil pills have a high amount of dietary omega-3 that reduces bad or LDL cholesterol and raises the level of good or HDL cholesterol.
  • Limit take-out foods: Limit intake of pastries, pizza, pies, hamburgers and other take-out foods.
  • Incorporate peas: Eat meals rich in beans and lentils at least two times a week.
  • A variety of oils for cooking: Use oils such as olive, sesame sunflower and peanut oil.
  • Cereals: Eat wholegrain breads, pasta, rice and noodles.
  • Spreads: Use spread and margarine made from olive oil, canola and sunflower, instead of butter.
  • Fish: Have two or three portions of fish every week.
  • Choose reduced fat: Drink non-fat milk and calcium-added non-dietary food.

Different Types of Fat

It’s not just enough to eat the foods that lower cholesterol, you also need to pay attention to what type of fat you are consuming in your food. Saturated fats in meat and dairy products make your liver produce more of the bad cholesterol. Unsaturated fats in vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, and beans increase the rate at which the liver breaks down bad cholesterol. On the other hand, food rich in trans-fat, such as packaged and baked foods, are not good for your body’s arteries.

Replace saturated fats and trans fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, fish, avocado, and nuts.[6] Polyunsaturated fats rich food include oily fish and some nuts. Foods rich in healthy, monounsaturated foods include avocados, olive oil, and peanuts.

What are Triglycerides?

In addition to cholesterol, your blood also contains a type of fat known as triglyceride which is stored in your body’s fat deposits. Triglyceride is used to make energy between meals. If your food creates more energy that you need each day, you may have more triglycerides in your blood than you need. High triglyceride levels may also cause heart disease and other complications. Limiting the intake of sugar-sweetened drinks such as soft drinks and energy drinks can help maintain your triglycerides level.

It is hard to know from the physical symptoms whether you have high cholesterol, so it is measured with a blood test. As elaborated above, high blood cholesterol levels can cause the accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries. If this deposition occurs in your leg arteries, it can cause PAD. When you have PAD, you will experience leg pain while climbing and exercising that goes away when resting. If the condition is not treated, you may experience pain even at rest. As the fatty deposits reduce the flow of blood, the condition may result in the complete blockage of arteries. Your leg tissue may eventually die due to a lack of blood and the leg may have to be cut and removed to prevent the spread of infection.

Non-surgical PAD Treatment 

It’s important to get treatment of PAD disease to prevent any complications from developing. Though surgical options are always available, at USA Vascular Centers we offer non-surgical PAD treatment to patients with the help of a procedure known as angioplasty with balloon stenting.

First, your PAD symptoms will be diagnosed with ABI, ultrasound, or MRI by our PAD doctor. Once the PAD is confirmed, the doctor will do angioplasty to find the location and size of the blockage. The whole procedure is completed within a couple of hours by our PAD doctors and all patients are discharged immediately following their treatment. Recovery is fast and you would be able to return to your normal routine within a week.

If any of the risk factors mentioned here apply to you, or if you are concerned that you may have PAD, contact us today. We have clinics located across the country that can provide you with effective, lasting relief from PAD symptoms. Our vascular specialists have years of experience in various medical fields including vascular surgery and interventional radiology. At USA Vascular Centers, our treatment is covered by most insurance plans including Medicare and Medicaid, just give us a call to verify your coverage. Don’t suffer in pain from your PAD symptoms any longer, give us a call today at 888.773.2193, or schedule an initial consultation online, to find relief.

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