Causes for High Cholesterol

Before you learn what foods/diet lower cholesterol, it is important to understand what can raise it.  There are several factors that can increase your cholesterol to unhealthy levels, including excess weight, unhealthy habits such as smoking, stress, and eating habits.  They all have one main factor in common, inflammation.

Furthermore, excess body fat is not only a risk factor for heart disease on its own, but this condition can also increase your cholesterol.   Losing excess body fat can help lower your bad cholesterol and total cholesterol levels, as well as increase your good cholesterol.

Lastly, your genetics play a role in your cholesterol levels; high cholesterol can run in families, usually because the same factors create inflammation in the body.

Diet that Lowers Cholesterol (Hence Inflammation)

The best way to improve your cholesterol is to stick to a healthy diet:

  1. One that is lower in
    • transfatty acids produced by deep frying foods or found in margarines,
    • lower in non-food items such as chemicals and additives,
    • lower in refined sugars and grains and
    • in certain cases lower in cholesterol.

    By gradually changing your diet to one containing less of the foods that promote heart disease (by 20 to 25%), you can dramatically improve the health of your heart.

  2. Replace foods such as trans fat margarines, polyunsaturated oils (that can easily spoil), and deep fried foods, with olive oil, avocados, and fish such as salmon. Use white wine vinegar to keep your pan moist while cooking instead of butter.  It does not change the taste of the food and it is low in cholesterol.  You can also use a cholesterol-free egg substitute instead of whole eggs, or better yet cut down on egg yolks by using eggwhites with one yolk (something I do every morning!).
  3. Increase the number of fresh fruits and vegetables (which helps reduce sodium) and  water consumption, an often overlooked factor in healthy living.  It is simple to do and helps the body rid itself of waste.

Too many people trying to lose body fat go about it using very low fat, high carb diets.  This might work for some that do not have a cholesterol problem but this will actually raise cholesterol in those susceptible to the problem.

Your body will also manufacture its own cholesterol if it is not given enough good fat.  In fact, it will over produce it on very low fat diets. What happens is that your liver will start to produce cholesterol to guarantee your body a baseline level.  By eating a low-fat, high-carb diet, high levels of insulin are introduced and trigger the body to siphon off excess blood sugar into the liver to make cholesterol and triglycerides (which are used for energy and fat storage).

Rather then avoiding cholesterol completely, it is important to continue to eat foods that contain good cholesterol.  Your liver only makes 75-80 % of the cholesterol that you need.  The rest of the cholesterol you need comes from your diet

If you decrease the amount of cholesterol that you are eating too much and make up those calories in carbs and sugar, your metabolism goes into famine mode and your liver overproduces cholesterol to make up the difference and stock up.  This overdrive state will not shut off until you start eating cholesterol again.  In truth, a low-cholesterol, high-carbohydrate diet can actually lead to high cholesterol!