Cholesterol is essential for certain body functions. However, too much of it can lead to many complications; some are even deadlier than expected. Thus, it led to diet meal plans by dietitians and diet-concerned individuals.
To start, let us be aware of cholesterol and how too much of it is bad for health.
Cholesterol in the Body
When too much cholesterol is consumed, there is a possibility of getting cardiovascular problems like heart disease and stroke.
Cholesterol is grouped into two: the good and bad cholesterols or the HDL and LDL cholesterol respectively. Each cholesterol can be received from the food we eat, and the cholesterol received depends on the food source. The food sources for HDL cholesterol a.k.a. good cholesterol are olive oil, beans and legumes, whole grains, fruits high in fiber, omega-3 rich fatty fishes, flax seeds, chia seeds, nuts, avocado, soy, and red wine among others. For LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol, they can be derived from food sources like most fried foods, fast foods, processed meats, and sweet desserts.
As cholesterol plays a huge role in the functioning of the body, here are some of the suggested ways to lower the level of bad cholesterol and instead get the plenteous amount of good cholesterol.
Choose to eat the healthier version of fats like omega-3 fatty acids.
It’s better to avoid eating too much food that contains trans fat and saturated fat. You may opt to eat more of the food with healthy fats such as fatty fishes, nuts, and avocado. Also, you can use oils that contain unsaturated fat for cooking.
Try to limit the intake of cholesterol in general.
The suggested amount of cholesterol must be lower than 200 mg per day. The foods that are high in cholesterol are mostly the animal-based ones such as the liver and other organ meats, eggs especially the yolk, whole milk dairy products, and seafood like shrimp.
Eat more soluble fiber.
The soluble fiber will help in avoiding the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract. It is preferred to eat foods that are rich in soluble fiber such as whole grain cereals like oatmeal and oat bran; fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and pineapple; legumes; and beans.
Eat adequate portions of fruits and vegetables.
This is because of the plant compounds called stanols or sterols that both function like soluble fiber.
Avoid using too much salt in your meals.
The suggested amount of salt consumption per day is one teaspoon. Thus, every food you eat must be checked for their sodium content. Reducing the consumption of salt does not necessarily affect the cholesterol level in the body, but it is still helpful by lowering the blood pressure to decrease the risk of getting heart diseases.
Limit alcohol intake.
Limiting alcohol intake can also decrease the LDL cholesterol levels in the body. Too much alcohol is often associated with weight gain, which is another factor to consider in the increase of LDL cholesterol while the HDL cholesterol decreases. Drinking too much is also dangerous since it can accelerate the blood pressure and even raise triglyceride levels in the body. The suggested alcohol intake for women is one drink a day, while men should only have until two drinks of alcohol a day.
Start exercising more often and become physically active as this contributes to the reduction of cholesterol levels in the body.
Since the most suggested food to lower cholesterol is fruits and vegetables, it is an advantage for vegetarians. Also, there are a lot of vegetarian meals that they can try while cutting off the excess cholesterol in their system.
Low Cholesterol Diet Plan: Vegetarian Meal Ideas
By trying different food combinations, we can get different results. In the case of low cholesterol and vegetarian meal ideas, there are quite a lot of factors to consider. First, you should stick to non-meat, all fruits and vegetables type of ingredients. Second, a fully vegetarian meal does not contain any animal produce, even dairy products like eggs and milk. Lastly, only focus on getting plant-based ingredients and carefully read each product label to avoid mistakes.
For some reason, the vegetarian diet has become more popular nowadays. They are also linked to low cholesterol results since most of their meal plans only consist of healthy fruits, vegetables, and grain products.
Here are a few meal ideas one can consider that aren’t just made of vegetarian-approved ingredients but are also very healthy alternatives that can lower the cholesterol levels in the body.
Try the Mediterranean Diet
Just like how Mediterranean residents eat their food, fresh from the Mediterranean sources. Since this diet commonly consists of foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and meats, you must avoid the fish and meat parts of the diet. Instead, enjoy the fruits and vegetables and make them into salads, with a dash of olive oil and some whole grains can be made as toppings.
This diet plan is proven to work effectively for the health of the heart.
Try the DASH Diet
The DASH diet is a diet that focuses on the portion sizes of different types of food in order to gain a variety of nutrients. DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Its main purpose is to work against high levels of blood pressure or hypertension.
This diet consists of different ingredients such as grains, and a number of fruits and vegetables for their fiber and nutritional content. This diet usually involves the consumption of milk products and fish, but since our preference is a vegetarian meal; choose ingredients that are vegetarian-friendly.
Try the Vegetarian or Vegan Diet
As seen from its name, this diet consists of complete vegan-friendly ingredients.
It is proven that eating meals that are completely made from vegetables can help lower the risk of getting heart diseases and high blood pressure. A sample combination for vegetarian diet is breakfast oats topped with nuts such as walnuts.
Try the Engine 2 Diet
Engine 2 Diet is again specially made for vegetarians. Since it is a vegetarian meal, all ingredients are plant-based. The main purpose of this diet is to lower the levels of bad cholesterol while increasing the levels of good cholesterol.
This diet mainly consists of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes, and soy products such as tofu.