High Cholesterol Diet: Myths and Facts
Starting a high cholesterol diet may seem incredibly easy. After all, it is just adding in a bowl of oatmeal and a handful of nuts a day, right? Wrong. A proper high cholesterol diet is much more than a daily serving of hot cereal and a few walnuts – it is about healthy eating that incorporates compound rich whole foods that can help lower LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol and cut down on triglycerides. It is about making healthful dietary choices that are far superior to over the counter supplements to lower cholesterol and incorporating them into your daily life. However, there are many misconceptions about diets to lower cholesterol and we have set out to dispel some of the most common, with our collection of myths and facts surrounding the high cholesterol diet.
MYTH: Carbohydrates are superior to fats in terms of heart disease prevention.
FACT: It is easy to associate fats with cholesterol. After all, in the simplest of definitions, cholesterol is actual fat in the blood. However, this does not mean that carbs get a free pass or, that fat alone is responsible for boosting cholesterol. In fact, Dr. Oz references a study that compared the cholesterol numbers of post menopausal women where one group consumed more fats and the other more carbs. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the women who were on a more carb heavy consumption cycle proved to have a more rapid progression of atherosclerosis.
Healthcentral.com also explains why excessive carbs are a big no-no for a high cholesterol diet. On a molecular level thanks to oxidization and glycation, VLDL particles produced by carb loving triglycerides make bad cholesterol particles more appealing to inflammatory white blood cells, furthering their adherence to arterial plaques.
MYTH: You cannot eat the yolks of eggs if you have high cholesterol.
FACT: The impact of an egg yolk on cholesterol levels is still being debated; however, there is new research that may suggest that scrambled eggs just may be an acceptable part of a high cholesterol diet. Men’s Health explains this new look at eggs and cholesterol levels and points to a recent study that suggests egg yolks may increase good cholesterol, not bad. HDL cholesterol serves as the highway patrol so to speak for the arteries. It traverses the blood highways of the body and finds and expels bad cholesterol, sending it off to be disposed of.
MYTH: All animal products are bad and should be avoided on a high cholesterol diet.
FACT: The human diet has long relied on using animals and animal byproducts for sustenance. And, healthy and raw fats, according to Dr. Mercola as cited by the Huffington Post, are a great addition to any healthy diet and should not have a derogatory impact on cholesterol levels. Some choices per Dr. Mercola’s suggestion include fats from seeds and nuts, healthy oils live olive oil, and avocados.
The cholesterol meat myth may be further stymied, according to Men’s Health which details an interesting fact about ground beef, previously thought to be one of the worst high cholesterol foods. Not only may ground beef not be responsible for raising bad cholesterol, it may actually be able to help lower it! But, before you go rushing off to the grocery store for a pack of commercially produced ground beef, stop yourself in your tracks. Men’s Health also points out that in order for ground beef to not be considered one of the worst high cholesterol foods, it needs to be grass fed. This is because of the incredible fish rivaling ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids found exclusively in grass fed beef.
MYTH: Natural and alternative remedies are not effective additions to a cholesterol diet.
FACT: Have you met garlic? The Mayo Clinic explains that in addition to healthy lifestyle changes, garlic, artichokes and barley may all be potentially beneficial additives to diets to lower cholesterol. These natural remedies are comprised of beneficial compounds that work to reduce LDL levels, raise HDL levels or both simultaneously. Further, spices and herbs like turmeric can be used on already proven foods to lower cholesterol for an even bigger impact. You can even consider drinking your way to heart health with cholesterol lowering tea. Green tea specifically (although black tea in some studies) has been shown in early research to have a potentially positive effect on nasty levels of LDL cholesterol.
High cholesterol is thought to be one of the most important precursors to the later development of heart related illnesses. While the body needs cholesterol for many physiological processes, too much may be a very bad thing – and when combined with other risk factors, heart attacks and strokes can become much more likely. A high cholesterol diet is one of the best ways to keep lipid levels at acceptable levels and when combined with lifestyle changes like additional exercise, the road to heart health can be more healthful and less precarious. However, remember to talk to your doctor about any dietary changes you are considering in order to determine that they are safe for you and your current health situation.