So you just found out you have high cholesterol and have been told to start a low cholesterol low fat diet immediately. But what does this mean? Should you eliminate all high cholesterol foods or eliminate all fats? No and no. Read on to find out about the most common myths of a low cholesterol low fat diet.
Myth #1 of a low cholesterol low fat diet
Focus on cholesterol content
Most people think that in order to lower cholesterol, they need to lower cholesterol intake. Dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol you consume) has nothing to do with your serum cholesterol. The two main culprits that raise serum cholesterol are saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fat is high in foods such as fatty cuts of meat, bacon and sausage and solid fat sources such as butter and lard. Trans fat is found in many packaged products including but not limited to ramen noodles, biscuit mix, cookies and especially in fast food.
Myth #2 of a low cholesterol low fat diet
Eliminate all foods high in fat
Whether or not fat is okay on a low cholesterol low fat diet is really dependent upon the type of fat. While food high in saturated fat or trans fat are a no-no, foods high in polyunsaturated fats are helpful in lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and raising HDL (good cholesterol). Some great sources are nuts and seeds, avocados, olive oil and the omega-3 fatty acid containing fish such as wild-caught salmon and mackerel.
Myth #3 of a low cholesterol low fat diet
Drink red wine to lower cholesterol
Yes and no. While studies show that drinking a glass of red wine may improve cardiovascular disease risk factor in women, drinking too much alcohol will raise triglyceride levels which are another harmful component of total cholesterol. The best advice is to have a glass now and again if you enjoy it, but not to think of it as a cure all for your cholesterol.
Myth #4 of a low cholesterol low fat diet
Fat and cholesterol are the only components of my diet I need to be concerned about to lower my cholesterol.
Absolutely false! There are many other significant factors in a diet that will help lower your cholesterol. First and foremost, get plenty of fiber from a variety of sources such as fruits, veggies and whole grain foods. In addition, consuming fruits and veggies (especially the veggies) will provide your body with a lot of other nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals that are important for overall health.
Ultimately, when thinking about a low cholesterol low fat diet, you need to be thinking of your overall health and diet and not focusing primarily on cholesterol and fat content. By following the basic recommendations of the American Dietetic Association or another healthful diet such as that which I cover in my Healthy Grocery Store Tour (www.healthygrocerystoretour.com), you will be on the path to not only lower cholesterol levels, but a healthier lifestyle that benefits you more than a low cholesterol low fat diet.