What you Need to Know About Cholesterol & Food

Wednesday December 16, 2015

Cholesterol shows up in animal based foods such as milk products and meat, as well as some nuts and cooking oils.  Your body produces all the cholesterol you need.  Yet because many foods contain cholesterol, blood cholesterol levels may get too high.  Foods that contain saturated fat also contain cholesterol, so the more animal and fried foods you eat, the more cholesterol and fats your body has to assimilate.  Food isn’t the only culprit.  Lifestyle factors, such as sedentary habits, obesity and smoking, plus your family medical history, your age and other conditions – high blood pressure, diabetes, some kidney and thyroid disorders – may put you at greater risk for high cholesterol as well. 

Choosing foods that are low in cholesterol is not difficult.  It is beneficial to add some of these food choices to your diet to lower cholesterol levels.

  • Include more soluble fibre in your diet.  This includes foods such as apples, lentil, oatmeal, flax and barley. 
  • Include more soy in your diet.  Soy contains compounds with isoflavones that act like human hormones in lowering and regulating cholesterol levels.  It is beneficial to add about 25 grams of soy protein/daily to attain maximum gains.  Foods rich in isoflavones include soymilk, tofu, tempeh and texturized soy protein. 
  • Include more fish in your diet.  Fish contains high concentrations of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which work to lower blood fats.  It is also thought that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids make blood more slippery and less able to thicken with cholesterol fats.  It is recommended to consume fish 2-3 times weekly for optimal results.

In general, it is wise to choose lean cuts of meat and eat more fish and skinless poultry.  As well, eat moderate portions of the meats you do choose to eat.  Limiting organ meats and highly processed meats (such as bacon, deli meats and hotdogs) will also help lower cholesterol levels.  Avoiding animal based foods as much as possible and choosing to eat foods that are lower in saturated fats is also recommended.  Select skim or 1% milk and light, part-skim or reduced-fat cheese, sour cream and yogurt.   Try to incorporate egg substitutes or egg whites in recipes.  Avoid palm kernel, palm and coconut oils, as they are very high in saturated fats.  Limit butter, lard, fatback, solid vegetable shortening and select oils that are high in unsaturated fats. 

Resources that would be beneficial to you that Community Natural Foods carries are “Eating Well For Optimum Health” by Andrew Weil M.D., “Nutritional Guide: A Comprehensive Reference for Better Health” by Louise Tenney M.H. and “Total Wellness” by Joseph Pizzorno, N.D.


Sources cited:

Cholesterol (2000).  Cholesterol Basics: What is High Cholesterol? [online].  Available: http://www.cholesterol.com.html (11 August 2000).

Cholesterol (2000).  Why Cholesterol Levels Rise [online]. Available: http://www.choleserol.com.html (11 August 2000).

Cholesterol (1999).  Foods to Avoid [online]. Available: http://www.vegsource.com/talk/health/messages/4992.html (12 August 2000).