Cholesterol Advice

A Guide on Dietary Habits for Cholesterol Patients

Most people would recommend you to avoid foods that are high in cholesterol so as to control your cholesterol levels. Simply because,- cholesterol from these foods directly goes into your bloodstream and raises your levels of cholesterol. While, both of these facts are untrue!

Let's learn about other popular myths about cholesterol and food below.

First things first, the cholesterol you get from the food is dietary cholesterol and the one that is naturally made in your body and spreads in the blood stream is serum cholesterol. A patient is usually worried about dietary supplies of cholesterol.

Now avoiding all food stuffs containing cholesterol is not going to help you reduce cholesterol levels. As, dietary cholesterol always comes from animal sources of food and never from plant sources. Although, they may contain some fats. The fact remains that most of the bad cholesterol, the LDL (low density lipoprotein) variety, comes mainly from saturated fats, and not the dietary cholesterol.

The foodstuffs that contain significant amounts of saturated fats include animal sources such as meats, milk and milk products such as butter, poultry, palm and oils derived from the palm kernel, and the coconut. Some of the bad cholesterol is also attributed to mono-saturated fats and some to polyunsaturated fats.

The sources of monosaturated foods include olive oil, nuts, and canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats come from mainly sunflower, sesame, safflower, and soybean oils, corn, and the fat in seafood. Besides these food components, trans fat also raises the cholesterol in your body. They are found in margarine and commercially baked foodstuffs or hydrogenated fats.

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) restricts the total fat intake for adults in the range of 20 to 35% of total calories in its dietary recommendations. Of this, the higher leeway above 30% is for children in the 2 to 3 years age bracket.

Similarly, the 25 to 35% range is recommended for children and teens in the 4 years to 18 years age bracket and 20 to 25% for older adults. This total fat intake when broken up into its components includes 7 to 10% of total calories from saturated fats, about 10% from polyunsaturated fats, and 10 to 15% from monosaturated fats.

Irrespective of the fat intake, the USDA recommends to restrict cholesterol intake to a maximum of 300 mg (milligrams) per day. Saturated fats are the most harmful source of bad cholesterol in your body and the effect of dietary cholesterol is comparatively insignificant. This is why the saturated fat in foods is measured in grams and the cholesterol in milligrams.

Eggs, shellfish, and liver which were traditionally considered no-no foods for cholesterol need to be consumed wisely if you want their benefits. The reason is that all of these carry significant cholesterol, but very little, if any, saturated fat. The idea behind this course correction will be apparent when you consider that it is the saturated fat that is comparatively a significant factor in high levels of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream.

The effect, the above foodstuffs will have on your cholesterol, actually depends on your lifestyle choices, exercise, and genetic makeup. Moderation in eating is therefore the key to consume eggs, shellfish, and liver. And yes, you need to avoid dipping them in butter while eating them.