February 18, 2011 – Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the walls of cells in the body and is used to make hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D. It travels in blood, bound to protein packages called lipoproteins, which have fat inside and protein outside.
Reducing fat intake particularly saturated fat can do more to lower cholesterol than targeting the dietary cholesterol itself.
Saturated fats: Found in foods such as meats, butter, and pizza. It stays solid at room temperature and cause the liver to manufacture excess cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated fats: Stay liquid or soft at room temperature. They include corn, safflower oils and the omega-3 fats that lower total cholesterol, but also reduce the HDL, the so-called good cholesterol.
Monounsaturated fats: Liquid at room temperature; includes heart-healthy oils such as canola, peanut, and olive. Research indicates that these oils may reduce LDL without reducing HDL.
Trans fatty acids: Make up about 2-5% of the total fat in all of the ruminant fats of animals ; cow, goat, or sheep, but 60% or more of total fat found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. The harder the margarine the more trans-fats it has.
It is recommended that you have < 200mg/dl of total blood cholesterol, < 100mgDl of LDL the bad cholesterol and > 60 mg/dl of HDL the good cholesterol
The diet plan
Have a written plan with clear goals and a time line indicated. I call this a ‘SMART’ plan which sets you up for success. The goals are Specific, Measured, Appropriate, Realistic, and Time-bound. For instance, planning to jog 3km daily is specific, appropriate, realistic and easy to achieve.
The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) suggests that:
• Have < 7% of daily calories from saturated fat
• Have < 200 mg a day of cholesterol
• Have 25–35% / day of calories from total fat (including saturated fat)
• Diet options you can use to lower bad cholesterol:
1. 2 grams per day of plant fats e.g vegetable oils
2. 10–25 grams per day of soluble fiber
• Use the recommended daily calorie intake.
• Do at least 30 minutes of a moderate intensity physical activity, per day.
With this diet, your total fat intake should be no more than 30% of your daily calories and your saturated fat intake should be between 8 and 10%.
The six-week daily plan
• Saturated fats: Eat <10 grams per day. This means you take one or two pieces of that fatty meat per day.
• Trans fats: Reduce the intake as much as possible
• Unsaturated fats: These seem to help fight the bad cholesterol. Eat more of plant oils such as sesame seed oils.
• Eggs: Although Eggs yolk contains high amounts of cholesterol, consumption may not contribute to elevated serum cholesterol levels due to the Phosphatidylcholine content of in the whites that inhibits the intestinal absorption of the cholesterol. It is recommended that you take 4 eggs per week.
• Grains: Rice Bran and wheat germ help to reduce the body’s absorption of cholesterol, so take more of these.
• Herbs: Take more herbs such as alfalfa, coltsfoot and chilli that inhibit the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Coltsfoot contains substances that compete with cholesterol for absorption.
• Legumes: Eat more legumes since they prevent cholesterol absorption due to their galactomannans content.
• Fish oils: Increase the intake since they lower it by reducing the absorption and the synthesis in the liver.
To achieve this, have a diet diary which contains what you eat each day and other information, such as your physical activity.