5 Major Diets to Lower Cholesterol and Blood Sugar and Lose Weight
When choosing a diet, there are many factors to consider. What do you want to accomplish? How long do you want it to take? Do you have one goal, or many? There are five commonly undertaken diets (there are many more of course, but we have compiled the best five) and each has its own benefits in terms of weight reduction, blood sugar stabilization and lowering cholesterol. Some are incredibly restrictive and particular, while others are much more generic but perhaps not as effective. However, regardless of which one you are considering, they are all suitable diets to lower cholesterol, reduce weight and lower blood sugar too. Remember however that if you are considering a new dietary routine that you discuss it with your health care provider before proceeding. Depending on your health status, medications and lifestyle, not all diets may be right for you, and some may be downright hazardous. So check out our list of the 5 major risk factor reducing diets, to see if one is worth having a discussion with your health care provider about!
1. Low Fat and Low Sugar Diet
Hands down the single best option among diets to lower cholesterol is one that limits both bad fats and sugar too. WebMD explains that diets that are high in sugar negatively affect cholesterol in multiple ways. In addition to characteristically high levels of both triglycerides and total cholesterol appearing in study participants, increased weight from high sugar diets (excess weight contributes to higher cholesterol numbers on its own) also has its own effects on lipid levels. While a low fat low cholesterol diet is often recommended for those with high cholesterol, cutting out excess sugar may be almost as important.
In terms of fat reduction, The Harvard School of Public Health emphasizes both the importance of reducing fat intake as well as the importance of being particular, and notes that cutting out saturated and “bad” fats can play as big a role in stabilizing cholesterol levels as limiting intake of the substance itself.
In terms of weight reduction and blood sugar reduction, a low fat and low sugar diet is well rounded and essentially ideal. The reduced sugar intake can prevent unhealthy spikes in blood sugar, and the reduction in both fat and sugar can certainly contribute to getting to and maintaining a healthy weight. Of course in addition to being an important part of successful diets to lower cholesterol, reducing the intake of bad fats can also coincide with weight loss (just remember not to totally cut out good fats that are heart healthy!)
2. Low Fat and Low Carb Diet
We have well established the cholesterol related benefits of avoiding bad fats, however what about carbohydrates in general? And, not just excess refined sugars as are part of the low fat and low sugar diet, but breads and pastas too? Is there any benefit to be gained in terms of weight loss, cholesterol reduction and stabilization of blood sugar? Well, an op-ed piece from docsopinion.com says, absolutely. While it is emphasized that one size does not fit all in terms of dietary restrictions, low carbohydrate diets have been linked to both lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as increases in HDL (good cholesterol). But, the benefits do not stop there. In addition to being ideal among diets to lower cholesterol, low carb and low fat diets can be attributed to weight loss as well. And, in terms of blood sugar reduction, it has been observed that carbohydrate restrictive diets can both reduce insulin resistance and lower insulin levels.
So what types of food can you enjoy on a low fat and low carb diet? Well, why not try eggs. Of course, it is no secret that the relationship between eggs and cholesterol has been a rather tumultuous one, however new studies point to the egg as less of a cholesterol nightmare and perhaps more a good source of nutrients and even a means to boost good cholesterol! In fact, Men’s Health calls scrambled eggs “cholesterol fighting foods,” citing studies that showed the poultry by-product’s purported tendency to boost HDL levels, as opposed to LDL levels.
3. Low Fat and Low Sodium Diet
Diets that limit fat intake are perhaps among the best diets to lower cholesterol, so long as good fats are kept and bad fats are avoided. However, what role does sodium play in all of this? Livestrong.com cites a study from The Johns Hopkins University School of medicine that found no relationship between salt reduction and lower cholesterol levels. However, while the association between salt and cholesterol might not be clear cut, that does not mean that it is not present at all. Limiting salt intake can in fact be important to a cholesterol diet because excessive salt consumption has been linked to weight gain over time, although the salt itself does not directly pack on the excess pounds. Therefore it is logical to assume that avoiding salt can not only prevent unwanted weight gain, but indirectly, cholesterol levels that are intimately linked to higher than ideal weights.
In terms of sugar control, low fat diets have not been conclusively linked to managing high blood sugar. However, it is widely accepted that healthier weights which are more easily achievable when bad fats are restricted, can contribute to healthier blood sugar levels. Reducing sodium intake can also help reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes.[/box]
4. High Protein Diet with Supplements
WebMD notes that high protein diets (which are those that include more than 50% protein intake) are often used in order to lose weight or build muscle mass. While on the surface, there may not seem to be much benefit in terms of reductions in cholesterol and blood sugar, a high protein diet can actually serve as a decent choice among diets to lower cholesterol because of its weight reduction benefits, a perk that also can keep blood sugar levels at bay.
Supplements are often a necessary inclusion to high protein diets, and many supplements and vitamins for cholesterol reduction can pair well with diets that are high in protein. The inclusion of herbal options like green tea supplements can further contribute to weight loss, and dietary niacin (vitamin B3) may also add to cholesterol reducing efforts.
5. Balanced Diet
A balanced diet is an excellent option for those that do not care much for dietary restrictions and prefer a better rounded intake. Often yielding half protein and half carbs and fats, there are many benefits to a balanced diet. It is an excellent method of introducing a great variety of whole and fresh foods, obtaining healthy fats and protein from sources like seafood and soy, as well as good carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables too.
Some good choices for a balanced diet? How about shrimp? While there are many concerns about the shrimp cholesterol link, The World’s Healthiest foods website points out that shrimp may not be worthy of their negative stigma, pointing out that they contain cholesterol reducing compounds like beta-sisterol as well as a healthy heaping dose of gut busting protein.
Not a fan of seafood? Then perhaps soy milk is the choice for you. The benefits of soy milk and cholesterol levels have been studied and preliminary conclusions point to soy products as both good protein sources as well as potential natural cholesterol reducers. This correlation makes soy milk both an excellent part of a balanced diet as well as a superior choice for use in recipes to lower cholesterol.
Although the lack of restrictions on fat and carb intake may make it seem like a balanced diet will not serve much of a purpose in terms of weight reduction, balancing blood sugar and lowering lipids, the contrary is likely true. A balanced diet can provide proper nutrient balances and when combined with exercise, can lead to healthier weights which can reduce both blood sugar levels and blood lipids too, making it yet another potential choice among diets to lower cholesterol while benefiting the body in other ways as well.