Low Cholesterol Foods List – Keep Eggs, Meat and Seafood on The List!
When it comes to a typical low cholesterol foods list, some things just never seem to change. Adding in extra oatmeal and nuts and avoiding meat products and eggs are the commonalities associated with a characteristic low fat low cholesterol diet. But, new studies are emerging that are changing these preconceived notions, and pointing to wider dietary changes and healthier lifestyles in general as better inclusions to a cholesterol diet. What we have previously thought to be important to managing cholesterol numbers is being challenged as we learn more about the amazing compounds found in different foods, even those once thought to be entirely taboo for those with high cholesterol.
High cholesterol is nothing to play around with. The Mayo Clinic explains that the waxy goo found in the fats of the blood is necessary for many physiological functions; but, too much can lead to an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks. High cholesterol is common and results most often from a combination of factors including family history, lifestyle and diet, which is where a low cholesterol foods list often comes into play.
One of the biggest no-no’s for those with high cholesterol is eggs, and this is because of the high levels of cholesterol in eggs which is contained in the yellow yolk. Interestingly enough however, Men’s Health points to new studies that show ditching scrambled eggs may not be required after all, as it is now thought that the cholesterol found in egg yolks actually increases HDL or “good” cholesterol, which is important to keeping LDL “bad” cholesterol levels at bay.
Another oddity on the low cholesterol foods list that may be worth adding as opposed to avoiding is ground beef. Burgers have notoriously been off limits for sufferers of high cholesterol, and there is little argument that the cholesterol in meat may justify this notion. However, Men’s Health discusses the differences between commercially produced beef versus grass fed beef, noting that the latter may actually help cholesterol levels instead of hindering them. How is this? Because the delicate ratio of omega fatty acids is abundantly more balanced in organic grass fed beef, even rivaling that of many fish, providing LDL lowering benefits (never mind the added boost of vitamin E).
The cholesterol in fish has ensured that it continues to be a hot button topic in terms of whether or not it should be on a low cholesterol foods list or not. Some types of fish are better than others in terms of their heart healthy benefits, and the cholesterol in seafood in general has left everything from shellfish to squid off the table for many people suffering from high cholesterol. However, Dr. David Williams references a small study in which men enjoyed mass amounts of seafood over a short period of time while their cholesterol levels were monitored, and the results were surprising to say the least. Not only were there no detrimental effects to cholesterol levels in the small study’s participants, those who enjoyed copious quantities of crab, clams, oysters and mussels benefitted from a drop in LDL and triglycerides. And, those who ate diets comprised of squid, mussels and oysters gained more HDL cholesterol. But, while the study questioned seafood’s previous exclusion from a low cholesterol foods list, what perhaps is more enlightening was the fact that the abundance of ocean fare did not negatively impact cholesterol levels, as would be the assumed outcome.
What may be more disturbing is the lack of education about the impact that heavily sugared and carb loaded diets may have on cholesterol levels. As society increasingly becomes accustomed to processed and refined foods, the impact that these edibles have on cholesterol is less talked about than it perhaps should be. On one hand, the parallels are easy to draw as high sugar diets and those chock full of carbs can lead to bigger waistlines, contributing to a decrease in HDL levels and ultimately, higher cholesterol. But, the connection is even deeper than that. Healthyeating.sfgate.com points out that when a person eats more carbs than their body uses for energy, these leftover molecules produce an enzyme that is used to either produce more energy, or lipids like cholesterol.
Along with the less than adequate information regarding sugar’s role in cholesterol production, another interesting missing facet to cholesterol control is the role that natural compounds can play in reducing blood fat levels. For instance, few have heard that studies have shown that a cholesterol lowering tea may exist from spices like turmeric or herbal brews like green tea. These natural and herbal edibles rarely make their way onto a low cholesterol foods list even though studies have shown that they are potentially effective at reducing LDL levels. Red yeast rice has been a big part of medicinal and culinary use in Eastern cultures for hundreds of years, and its ability to lower cholesterol has been proven. Yet, it is not often discussed as a natural means for cholesterol control. Perhaps this is because of the risks associated with dosing. But, perhaps this has to do with pharmaceutical companies that claim ingredient rights.
When battling high cholesterol, instead of worrying about specific entries on a low cholesterol foods list, it may be better instead to think about changing the way you eat entirely. Adding in physical activity can have nearly as great an effect on cholesterol levels as dietary changes, and can contribute to overall better health. Ditching negative vices like smoking also plays an important role in cholesterol management and can help to raise HDL levels. And, reducing sugar and refined foods intake and replacing these dietary disasters with whole and fresh food selections that include proteins, dairy, grains and produce can add to greater dietary diversity and better nutrition. However, no dietary changes should be made without the advice and counsel of a physician if you have high cholesterol. Each specific individual’s needs may vary based on their medications and their health conditions. And, in situations where it is necessary to lower cholesterol fast, dietary and lifestyle changes may not be enough or work quickly enough to reduce coronary related risks. In these cases, dietary restrictions may be more severe and medications are often implemented to lower cholesterol fast.
Sticking to a low cholesterol foods list may seem like an easy way to manage cholesterol levels. But, it may also be considered a cop out; a means to omit certain bad foods while still rejoicing in being allowed to enjoy those like sugars, that may still have an adverse effect on cholesterol levels. Rather than work from a list, think about what you are putting into your body and whether or not the risks outweigh the benefits. And, when it comes to taboo treats like seafood and burgers, turn to your doctor to see if they need to be omitted, or rather enjoyed in moderation alongside a fresh and healthy diet.