Does Reducing Intake of Foods High In Cholesterol Lower My Cholesterol?

Some folks believe that reducing their intake of foods high in cholesterol will cause high readings to go down. With regard to lowering cholesterol by dietary means, there seems to be ongoing confusion among many about the difference between dietary cholesterol–the consumed variety, and serum (or blood) cholesterol. The dietary type describes the amount you may consume in the food that you eat. The skin on the chicken you enjoy might be singled out as ranking high as one such example. Serum cholesterol, as in LDL (the “bad” type) and HDL (the “good” type) is what is measured in your blood when your levels are checked by clinicians. These readings tell them about the functioning of your liver. With respect to the dietary type, many health professionals recommend a daily intake in the range of about 12-16 grams.

Further contributing to the confusion, many try to reduce their total intake of animal fat in the hope of reducing their LDL. Greater benefit may be obtained in limiting saturated fat and emphasizing omega-3 and mono-saturated fats.

  • Saturated fats are common in animal based foods but can also be found in such vegetable-based products as palm kernel and coconut oils. These oils have been shown to potentially raise LDL levels in some, but not all subjects.
  • Omega-3′s, on the other hand, are known to be beneficial. For instance, the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids present in such fish as salmon, cod, and tuna are shown to be “heart healthy” and anti-inflammatory.

Raising intake of these, along with such vegetable-based mono-saturated fats as olive, peanut, and almond oils, can elevate the “good” HDL which helps to negate the damage that can be caused by “bad” LDL. Be aware that many wild caught varieties of fish, which contain these healthful components, are now contaminated with unhealthful levels of toxins such as mercury, lead, and PCB’s. Consume at your own risk, or supplement with a molecularly distilled fish oil product that undergoes testing for purity.

Ultimately, there are factors involved other than food consumption that play a role in what LDL and HDL readings a given individual’s lab report will generate. Due to such components as age, weight, genetics, and level and type of physical activity, among others, these readings can be highly variable–even among individuals of the same age and weight who eat the same saturated fat-laden foods everyday. Fortunately, there is also evidence that an increased antioxidant intake can help to counter the dangerous effects of LDL. By itself LDL is not harmful, according to one expert. Only when it has become oxidized by metabolic activity in the body that produces components called “free radicals” will it do harm inside the blood vessels. This free radical attack can be controlled to some degree through consumption of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. As one progresses past the age of 40 or 50, it may be wise to consider including additional antioxidants in our diet in a broad spectrum including vitamins C, E, and red wine polyphenols.


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