A low cholesterol low fat diet has become the norm for a great many people in the last twenty years or so, since the medical community began emphasizing the importance of this substance in prevention of strokes and heart disease. Low cholesterol meals can be found on tables everywhere. Symptoms of high cholesterol are rare. A blood test is generally the way the discovery of a high level of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) is discovered. And once the discovery is made, the instructions are pretty clear: (1) Reduce fat intake; (2) decrease the number of calories consumed; (3) exercise more and consistently; (4) stay away from “fad” or “crash” diets. When someone has a cholesterol problem, it’s a good idea to work with one’s physician or dietician to determine a workable eating plan.
The food industry has taken some important steps toward helping with this nationally recognized problem. Foods are now labeled with cholesterol content along with other nutritional information, and products have been developed that help in preparing low cholesterol meals. It is possible to buy margarine that has very small fat content, or a substitute that has no fat at all. Leaner cuts of meat are advertised, and lower fat cooking oils are available. There are even fat free ice cream desserts made by several labels.
In addition to the low cholesterol low fat diet that contains a lot of “no’s,” there are items that can be added to a person’s diet that will help bring those LDL numbers down because they contain soluble fiber. Specific foods high in soluble fiber are apples, citrus fruit, berries, carrots, apricots, prunes, cabbage, sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts. A serving is one-half cup. All of the beans or legumes also provide soluble fiber, and can be substituted for meat once a day. Nuts are also a welcome addition to any diet designed to lower LDL numbers, but because they are high in calories they should be limited. Oatmeal and dry oat cereals are excellent sources of soluble fiber, as are barley, rice bran, and soy. With all those choices, there is little doubt that everyone who needs to bring down LDL to a healthy level can find foods they will enjoy while doing it. One of the important things the Bible tells us is that we owe our good health to more than the needs of the body. The spirit needs nourishment too. “That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.” (Psalm 67:2)
Most of the cholesterol in the body is made by the liver from saturated fat in a person’s diet. Some also comes from foods such as eggs, meats and dairy products. The body needs some of this substance, but too much in the blood can be lodged in the arteries, and cause serious blockage. This narrowing of the arteries can result in a heart attack or stroke. Knowing this can happen makes people more receptive to changing their lifestyles to guard against these life-threatening occurrences by eating low cholesterol meals. In those instances where diet and exercise are not enough to get the counts down, there are medications available that will help.
Preparation of foods on a low cholesterol low fat diet is important. The chicken-fried steak and gravy that is on so many menus will have to go. Meat that is baked, broiled, grilled, or roasted is better. Removing the skin from turkey or chicken will cut down on the fat content, and stores carry a lot of that meat with the skin already removed. Fresh ground turkey or chicken made from white meat is a good substitute for ground beef for recipes like spaghetti. In other words, frying of anything is no longer permissible when planning low cholesterol meals.
Lifestyle and eating habits aren’t the only causes of elevated LDL. Even some thin and fit people have elevated numbers, which is only accounted for by genetics. For those people medication is most certainly the way to bring levels to where they belong. Overweight can be a factor as well. Americans weight more now than all of the past ten years combined because of poor eating habits, and excess weight generally increases the LDL level. Determining a person’s ideal weight, then preparing low cholesterol meals to lose the excess pounds is often enough to correct the problem.
Both men and women experience an increased need for a low cholesterol low fat diet as they reach middle age, and women’s counts are usually lower between 50 and 55. However, when women reach menopause, the LDL levels start to rise more. That is a good time to increase physical activity and take particularly good care of oneself with a low cholesterol low fat diet anyway, to fend off the other difficulties that can arise from aging.