Dietary cholesterol levels predict a great deal about internal health. Why is it important to maintain low blood cholesterol? High levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) promote the buildup of dead cells and other material on the walls of the arteries, which leads to swelling. This blocks blood flow through the arteries to the organs. This process can result in various types of cardiovascular disease, putting you at risk for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral artery disease. It is, therefore, important to maintain low blood cholesterol levels to reduce this buildup of plaque in the arteries.
There are actually two sources for the level of blood cholesterol in any person's body. One is genetics, and so it depends on family history of these diseases. The other source is much more within our control: our diet.
Since cholesterol is a hormone made in the bodies of animals (such as humans), foods made of animal products, which are also high in saturated fat, will contain higher levels of LDL. Animal products such as beef brain, lamb kidney, and pork liver have the highest levels of bad cholesterol. Seafood -- such as, oysters, lobster, crabmeat, and shrimp -- has moderate levels of LDL. Meat and full-fat dairy foods have lower, but still moderate, levels. The foods lowest in bad cholesterol are fruits and vegetables, non-fat dairy products, nuts, pulses, and grains. Nuts, however, do contain HDL, the heart health promoting, or good cholesterol. Therefore, the most straightforward way to maintain a low level of bad blood cholesterol is to remove red meat from your diet or even to become a vegetarian. There are also medications, statins specifically, that you can take to lower your level of blood cholesterol. Increasing your level of physical exercise is also healthy and therefore helpful.
However, short of doing that, there are less extreme, more precise ways to change your diet to reduce your level of blood cholesterol. You can eliminate trans-fats from your diet. You can increase your diet's level of whey protein, found in most dairy products. A significant way to reduce your existing levels of bad cholesterol is to eat more foods containing soluble fiber, which absorbs water and turns to a kind of gel during digestion, allowing it to bind to bad cholesterol and remove it from the body. Recommended amounts of fiber range from 20-35 grams a day, with 5-10 grams of that as soluble fiber.
Foods that contain high levels of soluble fiber include oats, which can be eaten as hot oatmeal or as a cold oat-based cereal; barley, among other types of whole grains, and beans, which are not only contain high levels of soluble fiber, but digest slowly overall. There are, of course, many different types of beans, and many different ways to prepare them, so it should be relatively easy to fit them into your cholesterol-lowering diet. Cooking with vegetable oils, as opposed to butter or other animal fat, is also another easy way to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol you consume. Soy is another food type that lowers bad cholesterol, although the effect is not as great as it was once thought to be. Other high fiber foods include vegetables such as parsnips, pulses like black lentils, and fruits like plantains. Finally, eating types of fish that are rich in a compound called omega-3 fatty acid lowers bad cholesterol.
A plant-based diet is therefore the best way to maintain a low blood cholesterol level. Nonetheless, after changing your diet and before considering medication, also consider adding more natural supplements to your routine, such as Khubad Sai or other black or green teas which help regulate metabolism and have been shown to reduce LDL levels in some studies. One study, in which a group drank 200 ml black tea three times a day for 12 weeks (as opposed to a control group drinking hot water), resulted in a reduction of HDL/LDL ratio of 16.6%.
Finally, why is it important to maintain low blood cholesterol with the diet? Because there are statins, which work by preventing the liver from making cholesterol. Once the production stops, blood cholesterol levels fall. They are very effective drugs, but they have side effects, such as an increased risk of developing diabetes or muscle problems.