Summary: The ins and outs of low cholesterol diet.

What is the first thing to consider in a low cholesterol diet? Knowing the purpose of a low cholesterol diet will make you adhere to it more sincerely. Then before indulging in any strict diet, low cholesterol diet included, you have to know why some foods are safe to eat and why some are not.

So why go on a low cholesterol diet? The main reason for most people who are on a low cholesterol diet is because they have high blood cholesterol levels. As your doctor will most probably explain to you, the body’s liver produces just enough cholesterol needed to carry out its functions. Cholesterol from outside sources is normally not necessary. Rich outside sources of cholesterol are the foods from animals like poultry and dairy products.

A low cholesterol diet doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of cholesterol in one’s foods. According to health experts, a low cholesterol diet aims to: decrease the total dietary fat, particularly saturated fat; decrease dietary cholesterol intake; limit sodium intake; increase fiber complex carbohydrates intake; and decrease calories to achieve a healthy weight.

Furthermore, experts believe that low cholesterol diet focuses more on the reduction of saturated fat intake than the dietary cholesterol intake. This is so because saturated fats are found out to be much more effective in raising cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol itself. It was also discovered that these saturated fats drive the liver to produce four times more cholesterol from the foods we eat. Cholesterol in the body is basically taken from different nutrients but most so from saturated fats.

Not all dietary fats are harmful. The unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated or monounsaturated) in our low cholesterol diet, sourced mostly from plants, can actually help in lowering down cholesterol levels. It is easy to tell the difference between these two dietary fats. The harmful saturated fats stay solid at room temperature while the unsaturated fats do not.

When you are on a low cholesterol diet, be aware of the term “hydrogenated vegetable oil” on food labels. Since hydrogenation is a process in making oils solid at room temperatures, hydrogenated vegetable oils are then considered as saturated regardless of the vegetable content. These hydrogenated vegetable oils are used as ingredients in snack foods, baked goods, and margarine, all of which should not be a part of your low cholesterol diet.

People who need to lower their cholesterol levels should not only limit their cholesterol management plan to adhering to a low cholesterol diet. Lifestyle changes which includes engaging in physical activities, quitting smoking, and achieving a healthy weight should be in their list too. Reading food labels may take up a lot of your time, however, it can also enlighten you that the foods you are eating are safe and healthy.