High cholesterol poses a lot of health risks and the sad reality is that currently, average Americans have borderline high cholesterol levels, and close to 31 million American adults have a total cholesterol level that is higher than 240 mg/dL. Health experts know that the higher the cholesterol, the bigger the risk of cardiovascular diseases. According to the CDC, those with high total cholesterol have 2x the risk for heart diseases as those who are within ideal levels. All these numbers should serve as a wake up call for everyone. We need to start making changes in our diet so that we can prevent cardiovascular problems. And this is where cholesterol diet plans come in.
What is a Cholesterol Diet?
The aim of these diets is to bring down your bad cholesterol level. You will need to refrain from certain foods and eat more of healthy foods. But unlike weight loss or fad diets out there, you don’t necessarily need to starve or deprive yourself of delicious foods.
Cholesterol Diet Plans You Can Try
1. Mediterranean Diet
This diet emphasizes the consumption of plant-based foods like veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes. Instead of butter, you’ll use olive oil and other healthy fats. For flavoring, you will use herbs and spices in lieu of salt. Red meat should only be consumed a few times a month, while poultry and fish can be consumed at least 2x per week. The great thing about this diet is that you can eat foods that taste good and your preparations are also flexible. See a Mediterranean diet plan here.
2. DASH Diet
This diet was created with the aim to lower blood pressure without taking any medications. Short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, the original version was not intended for weight loss so it was relatively high in starchy foods and whole grains. But after several research studies have been conducted, the diet was modified to achieve better outcomes.
It emphasizes on including vegetables, low fat dairy and fruits in your diet. You can consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day for the standard version of the diet but there’s also a lower sodium version which allows you to consume up to 1,500mg of sodium per day only. This diet is recommended by the American Heart Association.
Here’s a sample DASH diet plan menu.
3. Vegetarian Diet
Plant-based diets have long been proven to help normalize cholesterol levels. Vegetarian diets do not include any kinds of meat, and studies have shown that vegetarians have a much smaller risk for heart disease because any diet that doesn’t include animal products is lower in cholesterol, saturated fat and total fat.
However, it’s still important to note that vegetarians need to check with their health care providers as they may not be getting enough iron, Vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, calcium and other important nutrients and proteins that the body needs.
Click here for a sample vegetarian meal plan.
Try any of the diet plans above to avoid the dangers of high cholesterol.