I came out of the isolation of the Pandemic with elevated cholesterol (low end of what is considered moderately high) and I'm determined to lower it without medication - it should be no problem as I am active. My plan, sharing if others are interested in research on this, as it can be confusing.
Follow a balanced, bright, and colorful, minimal meat, low fat/low sugar diet, stay regularly active (also diversify your activities) and maintain a healthy weight. Avoid supplements unless absolutely necessary because of a diagnosed deficiency. A good, whole food, daily multivitamin is enough. Build up to 25 - 30 grams of fiber a day (drink lots of water because of the high fiber).
Don’t be obsessive when you are out with others or in a restaurant. Moderation in moderation. If you are following this regularly at home and when you eat out by yourself, you can have the flexibility to indulge in a decadent treat. I like the policy of being gracious about the foods people provide to me (I’m not a vegan) and I consider it a generous gift if someone has prepared something for me (a dinner or cocktail or whatever).
Fish – those that are high in omega 3-fatty acids like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines and trout. The American Health Association suggests two servings of fish a week. Again, choose a healthy method of cooking. Scallops are good, avoid shrimp. Shellfish as an occasional treat, do not bath it in butter. Do not bread or fry your fish.
Nuts and Seeds – almonds and walnuts are high in
mono-unsaturated fats, or healthy fats, but ¼ cup of nuts is 200 calories. Nuts are another good source of
monounsaturated fats. Eating 1 oz of any kind of nuts daily for one month
may lower LDL Cholesterol by 8 to 20 percent. Snack on an ounce a day —
the equivalent of 23 almonds, 35 peanuts, 14 English walnut halves, 49
pistachios, or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. Or add chopped nuts to salads,
pasta, or yogurt. Nuts do have a lot of calories, so don’t eat them by the
fistful. Be aware of salted or flavored packaging. Chia and hemp seeds!
Oats and Barley – high in soluble fiber, which acts like a digestive sponge to soak up cholesterol so you excrete it rather than carry it in your blood. Don’t use oatmeal packets, though, since they contain higher amounts of sugar. Use old-fashioned, quick-cooking or steel-cut oats instead. Oat bran on yogurt. Barley in soups, salads, etc…..
Buckwheat, Farro, Quinoa, Bulgur Wheat
Berries – all berries, like blueberries and strawberries, are high in antioxidants that help decrease blood pressure. We’re going for color. How colorful is your diet?
Beans, Peas (moderation), kidney beans, Lentils, garbanzo, chickpeas, endame and Peanuts– they’re high in fiber, a good protein alternative without unhealthy fat. Make rice and beans or bean-based soups. Toss beans, lentils, or peas into salads, or swap them in for meat in pasta dishes. The TLC diet recommends three to five half-cup servings daily of vegetables, dry beans, or legumes. Check canned beans to make sure they don’t have added sugar or pork.
Tomatoes – they are very high in potassium and antioxidants “and we’re thinking color again.” Drink low-sodium tomato juice, add tomatoes to salads and sandwiches, and use no-salt-added tomato sauce on pasta and to top side dishes of veggies.Cooking or eating tomatoes with a little oil helps your body absorb more lycopene.
Avocados – these add great heart-healthy fats to a diet but watch the guacamole ingredients. A superb accompaniment for a wide range of dishes and great as a quick snack with other veggies, or on toast (whole grain).
Extra-virgin olive oil – substitute EVOO for butter, since olive oil is the “Mediterranean butter.” This oil contains the healthier mono-unsaturated fat. It has a distinct flavor, though, so it might not be right for all your cooking. It’s best in salads, and for dipping breads and veggies. Polyunsaturated fats, found primarily in corn, safflower, sesame, soybean, and sunflower oil, may slash LDL cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats, found mainly in olive, avocado, and canola oil, not only lower LDL, but may also raise HDL. Moderation 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon. You can use olive oil as a substitute for butter when basting meats. Walnut and flaxseed oils are also great alternatives.
Allium Vegetables – Garlic and onions are said to reduce inflammation in the body. Garlic lowers cholesterol and can reduce blood pressure. Also chives and leeks.
Dairy – it’s great
for calcium but choose low- or no-fat options.
Eggs: Just beware the sides, especially bacon and saturated fat laden omelettes. Most of the cholesterol in the body is made by the liver, not delivered through diet. And while diet does matter, research has found that cholesterol levels have more to do with the fat you eat, namely saturated and trans fats, than cholesterol. And eggs contain healthy nutrients, including vitamins A and D, as well as protein. Long-term population studies show that eating an egg a day hasn't been linked to higher rates of heart attack or stroke.
Dark Leafy Greens – traditional lettuce, kale, chard, arugula, and spinach varieties, and the ends of beets, collard & mustard greens and similar veggies
Mushrooms – all kinds
Endame and Soy – endame as a side, snack or on salads.
Soy as a meat substitute (get good products – soy has a lot of problems related
to mass production). Jackfruit is
another good meat substitute, I like the chorizo style.
Drip Filtered Coffee (filters remove the cholesterol raising elements of coffee)
Fruit: Apples, Oranges, Bananas, Red Grapes, Pears, Oranges, Grapefruit, Pomegranate, Lemons, Limes, raisins, cucumbers (Juices – 100% fruit, no sugar added)
Veggies: Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Sweat Potatoes, Asparagus, Cauliflower, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Carrots, beets, parsnips, potatoes, and yams (Veggie drinks – must be low sodium)
Alcohol in moderation (no more than two normal drinks for an adult male – red wine or clear alcohol without sugar mixers preferrable… calorie laden craft beers, very much in moderation. I love specialty beers, just keep in mind, roughly, lager 135 calories, regular IPA 200ish (going upward for double), regular stout 250ish, barrel aged stout app 350 calories.
Exercise – at least five times a week. Mix it up, make it fun, or at least interesting :)
Local, pasture raised, grass fed meats and eggs
Turkey is the lowest cholesterol of the bird meats (followed by chicken – both without skin)
Hot Sauces and peppers (these are life savers – I use them liberally and as alternatives for saturated fat laden condiments)
Teas: Green Tea (1 -2 cups a day); I love the feel of Ginger/turmeric/galangal teas – choose your favorites, learn what they can do for you
Dark Chocolate (moderation) and Cacao (smoothies or hot chocolate)
Thai food (one of my favorites) is spicy and delicious, but it can raise your cholesterol if you don't choose carefully. The secret ingredient? Coconut milk. It makes curries smooth, and it's high in saturated fat. Scan the menu instead for stir fries or noodle dishes, and ask to have your dinner steamed or made with vegetable oil. Choose chicken or soy, rather than beef, throw in some extra veggies, and enjoy your takeout guilt-free.
Probiotics besides yogurt: Kimchi, kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut (check for sugars and sodium). There is good evidence that certain probiotics, particularly Lactobacilli, can help reduce cholesterol. They do this by preventing cholesterol from being made and absorbed, as well as by helping break it down
Prime cuts of beef (including organ meats – definitely not a problem for me)
Processed Meats: Bacon (noooooooo!), sausage, cold cuts, etc)
Ice Cream and Gelatto
Whole & 2% Milk and cheese (if you need cheese, get hard cheese… the slower grating process resists binge eating like takes place with the softer cheeses)
Sour Cream (you can substitute non-fat yogurt in recipes)
French Press Coffee
Smoking tobacco (not a problem for me, but just fyi)
Butter, Margarine and Ghee
Coconut milk and coconut oil (Coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fat — about 50 percent more than butter, even.)
Most granola (Eat granola that is sweetened only with dried fruit, honey or maple syrup, and that has at least 20 percent of the recommended daily value for fiber. )
Shrimp (high in cholesterol)
Flour tortillas (there are high fiber tortillas that could work and corn tortillas if they are not made with lard)
Pasta (refined wheat/etc types). When you do indulge, think marinara or marsala, not meatballs, and linguine with clams, not lasagna.
Energy Bars (almost all of them – check saturated fats and palm oils)
Duck and Goose
Starchy Veggies: Some vegetables are better than others when you're watching your triglycerides. Limit how much you eat of those that are starchy, like corn and peas. That way, your body won't turn the extra starch into triglycerides.
Sources: Mayo Clinic, Web MD, Healthline, Everday Health, Harvard University