Many people go vegetarian to lower their high cholesterol. How can a vegetarian diet lower cholesterol? And does it really work?
You can lower cholesterol and maintain healthy cholesterol levels by eliminating saturated and trans fats and replacing them with monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and adding whole grains, legumes, fruits vegetables and salads. High levels of cholesterol are a risk factor for coronary heart disease, the nation’s number one killer. Saturated fat comes primarily from foods of animal origin such as dairy products, meat, butter, cheeses, poultry, and luncheon meats. Saturated fats raise your total cholesterol, and trans fats, which are sometimes used to make store-bought biscuits, crackers and cakes, are particularly bad for your cholesterol levels because they raise the “bad” cholesterol and lower “good” cholesterol.
A plant based diet – fresh veggies and fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils – helps to lower cholesterol. And to confirm that, most studies indicate that vegetarians have lower cholesterol than non-vegetarians. Being a normal weight is also essential in the lowering of cholesterol. Abdominal fat can lead to high cholesterol. Exercise is also essential to lower the bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol.
Here are some facts about foods that make up a vegetarian diet AND lower cholesterol.
1) Whole grains and oats, are some of the best foods that lower cholesterol. A five-year Insulin Resistance Athersclerosis Study showed that people whose diets contain the most whole grains “had the thinnest carotid artery walls and showed the slowest progression in artery wall thickness.”
2) The fats in an avocados and olive oil are heart-healthy, unsaturated fats that can increase your levels of good HDL cholesterol. These good fats also protect against heart disease and diabetes.
3) Nuts keep blood vessels healthy and elastic. The best way to reap the health benefits of nuts is to eat them in replacement of foods that are high in saturated fats such as meat products..
Also, try to limit the number of calories you eat daily to less than 10 percent from saturated fats, and eliminate as many trans fats from your diet as possible. And remember…it’s a lot easier to do this on a vegetarian diet! I highly recmmend you reduce your alcohol intake - these are empty calories that are unnecessary in your diet.
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