Following a cholesterol free diet is particularly recommended if you are predisposed to heart coronary diseases. Before following such a diet, though, you need to know why cholesterol is so dangerous and what foods need to be avoided. Besides diet, there are plenty other factors that can cause the cholesterol levels to rise. These include:
- Alcohol intake
- Sedentary lifestyle
Regardless of the underlying cause, you can bring blood cholesterol levels to normal values if you follow a cholesterol free diet. Lifestyle changes and regular exercise will help even more.
Why is Cholesterol Dangerous?
Not all types of cholesterol are dangerous. Low-density lipoprotein is called bad cholesterol due to its tendency of forming blocks on walls of the arteries. Since these blood vessels are used for transporting oxygen and nutrients to the heart and brain, the cholesterol blocks can easily lead to stroke or heart attack. If your blood test results indicate LDL cholesterol levels above 100, then certain changes need to be made in your lifestyle and more important, in your diet.
Foods to Avoid
First of all, you need to avoid foods rich in saturated fat. This type of fat is solid at room temperature and can elevate blood cholesterol levels. Some of the foods that should be excluded from your diet are:
- Lunch meats
- Fatty red meat
- Dairy products made from whole milk
- Chicken skin
Trans fatty acids can also increase blood cholesterol levels. Foods that are rich in trans fatty acids include:
- Fried foods
- Fast foods
- Processed crackers and cookies
Besides foods that contain high amounts of saturated fat or trans fatty acids, there are also foods that contain plain cholesterol, such as:
- Egg yolks
Since cholesterol comes only from animal products, you may believe that following a vegetarian or vegan diet will keep blood cholesterol levels low. However, there are many foods that meet the terms of these diets, but are abound in saturated fat or trans fatty acids. Some examples include:
- Palm oil
- Palm kernel oil
- Coconut oil
- Cocoa butter
These also need to be avoided, and fortunately, there are plenty of substitutes for them.
Cooking Methods for Low Cholesterol Levels
As mentioned above, fried foods are rich in trans fatty acids. This is explained by the fact that foods tend to soak up the oil or butter they are fried in. Alternative cooking methods are preferred if you want to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Therefore, you are recommended to bake, broil, or grill the foods.
Antioxidants and Cholesterol
Antioxidants seem to reduce the cholesterol levels. Besides that, they offer protection against various types of cancer and heart diseases. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound in antioxidants will help you to eliminate the toxins from the bloodstream. Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids will keep blood cholesterol levels within normal limits.
Exercise and Cholesterol
Since a sedentary lifestyle is commonly associated with high cholesterol levels, exercising can lower blood cholesterol levels. Regular exercise also improves metabolism, helps you to burn fat, and increases energy levels. Besides a healthy cholesterol free diet, you need to perform physical activities with regularity in order to assure that blood cholesterol levels remain low.