A high blood cholesterol level is very often simply the result of eating cholesterol rich and fatty foods.
Hence, the best way to keep your blood cholesterol level within the normal range, is by sticking to a low fat, low cholesterol diet and not by taking cholesterol lowering drugs which should not be taken judiciously and only upon prescription of a physician.
How much dietary cholesterol can you safely take per day? In its latest guidelines, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming not more than 300 mg. of cholesterol per day. In addition, it also recommended that women consume no more than 50 to 60 grams of total fat per day with no more than 20 grams of fat coming from saturated fat sources.
Saturated fats should be avoided because they raised the blood levels of cholesterol. You, however, need not weigh the fat in the food you eat to ensure your diet is within the AHA guidelines. You simply need to observe the following pointers:
— Fruits, vegetables, cereals, dried beans, nuts and other plant products should form a good part of your diet. Cholesterol is present only in animal products; plant products are devoid of it.
— Fish should be the main dish of many of your meals, fish has no cholesterol. Fish oil especially from saltwater fishes contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids, which is known to lower blood cholesterol. However, you should minimize your intake of shellfish ( i.e. lobsters, shrimps ) because they also contain cholesterol, albeit in lower amount than meat and poultry.
— If you can’t resist meat, choose lean meat and trim the fat before cooking. Avoid cured meat (i.e. corned beef, sausages and luncheon meats) and innards (liver, kidney, etc.)
— Remove the skin before eating cooked poultry.
— In frying anything, use unsaturated vegetable oil like corn and olive oil. Better still in preparing food, boil, broil or roast.
— Minimize the use of butter and margarine or shortening made of saturated fats. For dressings, use margarine or salad dressings made from unsaturated fats and diet mayonnaise.
— Among dairy products avoid whole milk, cream, most non dairy creamers, cream cheese, ice cream and high fat cheese like mozzarella and cheddar. Instead prefer skim milk, low fat or non fat milk, low fat yogurt and low fat soft cheeses like cottage cheese.
— Make a habit to read the nutritional information that is on the label of prepared foods or ingredients. Always choose those products that contain low cholesterol, unsaturated fats and diet mayonnaise.
— Transfat like saturated fat raises LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the blood. Incidentally, hydrogenated fat is synonymous with transfat.
— Choose carefully the food establishments that you patronize. Most fast food chain use transfat in preparing their products.