An altered diet is the most common way to reduce LDL and raise HDL. Remember that the goal for optimal health is to have a high HDL and low LDL. If you are
overweight, losing weight can lower LDL, raise HDL and reduce the risk of medical complications such as heart disease. Waist size is often used in calculating the risk of heart disease. Ideally, a woman’s waist should not exceed 35 inches and a man’s should not exceed 40 inches.
The most popular diet for reducing LDL cholesterol and raising HDL is a low cholesterol, low saturated fat diet that limits consumption to no more than 7% of daily calories from saturated fat and fewer than 200 mg of cholesterol daily. Of course, with any healthy living plan it is always a good idea to increase your consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Also, including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fatty fish such as salmon twice a week, beans and peas, nuts and seeds in small amounts are all beneficial to cholesterol reduction. There are some early indications that artichokes can also aid in flushing excess cholesterol from the body due to a compound they contain called cynarin. It is believed that cynarin increases bile production in the liver and speeds up the flow of bile from the gallbladder, increasing cholesterol excretion. Limiting butter, egg yolks, cheese, processed meats, fried foods and saturated fats like shortening and partially hydrogenated margarine will further aid cholesterol reduction.
If this type of diet does not sufficiently reduce your LDL, increase the level of soluble fiber in your diet. Five to ten grams daily of soluble fiber can decrease your LDL by approximately 5%. There are many natural ways to increase your intake of fiber such as incorporating oats, barley and rye into your diet. Also apples, prunes, carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli and yams are high in fiber. Fiber supplements such as Metamucil are available if you find it difficult to naturally increase the fiber levels in your diet.
There are cookbooks that contain tasty recipes that adhere to this type of diet to ensure that you still enjoy eating while working on reducing cholesterol. There are also many low fat, heart-healthy sweets and desserts in grocery stores to cater to the occasional craving for sweet food. Here are some cooking tips that might be useful in reducing fat in your diet such as:
- eat smaller portions of higher fat items and bigger portions of lower fat dishes like vegetables, rice or beans
- remove any skin from poultry and cut visible fat from meat before cooking.
As with any dietary change it is important to be consistent. Have fun with your diet; try new recipes and new cooking techniques. Get comfortable reading product labels and identifying heart-healthy products. Many products are already labeled heart-healthy such as orange juice and margarine. To increase weight loss it is helpful to incorporate some form of daily exercise for at least 30 minutes. To keep your diet interesting and delicious, experiment with new spices and cooking styles to ensure that eating a low saturated, low cholesterol diet can be maintained.