Lower Cholesterol with Diet
One of the advantages of living a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle is the ease at which you can avoid health issues related to high cholesterol. In this article, I will discuss the two types of cholesterol, what you should avoid, and some tips to help you change your diet.
This is great news for people who haven’t started taking medication to lower cholesterol. Changing your diet increases the chances of maintaining low cholesterol levels without the potential side effects of medication. These tips are also helpful to others who already use medication to lower cholesterol levels.
Let’s begin by clarifying the difference between the two types of cholesterol.
First, we need cholesterol in our bodies for the production of hormones and vitamins, as well as healthy digestion. Some cholesterol is essential for health. However, there is “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol with very important differences between the two.
The foods you eat may either contain the High-density lipoproteins (HDL) or the Low-density lipoproteins (LDL). These are the two types of cholesterol. To be clear, you are safer eating foods rich in HDL, otherwise known as “good” cholesterol.
HDL is the “good” cholesterol because it contains more molecules of protein than cholesterol. This means HDL will not cause a potentially dangerous build-up of cholesterol in your arteries, causing cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, has a higher percentage of cholesterol than protein. Eating foods high in LDL will lead to a build-up of the cholesterol in your blood vessels which may cause heart-related diseases.
You may find it challenging to identify which foods are rich in HDL and other LDL foods to avoid. An easy solution is adopting a vegan diet.
A vegan diet is free from foods made from animal products. These include dairy foods, meat, pork, and other processed foods rich in saturated fats.
The following suggestions will help you make better food choices and lower the risks of diseases related to high cholesterol.
Find an alternative source of protein
Instead of animal based sources of protein, focus on plant foods that are high in protein. Your body needs protein for growth, tissue repair, and good health. Consider adding the following foods as alternative sources of protein to your diet: green peas, tofu, beans, lentils, and leafy greens.
Avoid saturated fats
Saturated fat should be very limited in your diet. The easiest way to avoid saturated fat is to focus your diet on whole plant foods instead of processed foods. Read food labels carefully in order to make the best choices.
Foods rich in soluble fiber are great
These foods include oats, whole grains, vegetables, peas, and nuts. They are nutritious and will not raise your cholesterol levels.
Eat foods rich in Omega-3 acids
Foods rich in Omega-3 acids such as chia seeds, brussells sprouts, walnuts, hemp seeds, and flax seeds will help you meet your Omega-3 needs on a vegan diet.
Simply changing to a plant based diet rich in fiber, low in saturated fat, and low in LDL cholesterol will help your body maintain a healthy cholesterol level. If you have concerns about your cholesterol or your diet, make sure to consult your doctor.
- by Russell Simmons
- November 1, 2018