Get into a healthy cholesterol range
Your heart health is the most important reason to switch to a low-cholesterol diet, which is an easy and effective way to reduce your chances of heart attack and stroke. There are two kinds of cholesterol in your body, and a low-cholesterol diet works to increase the beneficial type while it decreases the harmful type. This balancing act can be difficult to maintain without the proper approach to nutrition, so an understanding of how cholesterol works and how it's affected by different foods will be your best weapon in the fight against heart disease and poor health.
Why a Low-Cholesterol Diet is Best
A low-cholesterol diet isn't just for those who suffer from high cholesterol; it's for anyone who wants to avoid that fate. You may think that it will require some serious sacrifices, but you'll be pleasantly surprised to know that every meal will be bursting with flavor and variety. The key to this diet? A diverse range of foods, a good knowledge of low-fat foods and some willingness to give up the high-sugar, high-fat fix for wholesome foods and the energy they bring.
If you don't have the time to prepare gourmet meals every day, don't fret: there's a good selection of heart-healthy, pre-made dishes that respect your cholesterol and fat constraints. But keep in mind that the closer the food is to its natural state, the better it will be for your diet; focus on whole fruits and vegetables and avoid saturated fats, opting instead for unsaturated fats which can actually reduce your cholesterol levels. Like the heart diet and the diabetes diet, you'll want to use whole grains instead of refined flours, since whole grains reduce blood cholesterol.
How to Create and Monitor a Cholesterol Diet
There are a few types of low-cholesterol diets, from a vegetarian diet to the Mediterranean diet, and each will concentrate on varying proportions of fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and oils. Some foods can actually help lower your bad cholesterol, even if they're relatively high in fat and calories. The relationship between avocado and cholesterol is a perfect example: the oleic acid in avocado flesh can significantly reduce LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, while it raises HDL, or "good" cholesterol. Any diet you choose should work towards an ideal cholesterol balance; the easiest way to monitor the ratio between good and total cholesterol is with a cholesterol ratio calculator.
Once you've consulted with your doctor to determine the ideal cholesterol ratio, a cholesterol chart can help you to understand the cholesterol range to aim for. Normal total cholesterol is below 200, and normal HDL, or "good" cholesterol, is above 60 in most cases. Your cholesterol ratio is determined by dividing your total cholesterol number by your HDL number—anything over 5:1 signals a potentially serious threat to your health. Add a cholesterol food list to your new diet routine, which will help you design a menu that will let you reach your ideal cholesterol ratio and stay there.