High levels of cholesterol are the leading death-causing factor in the USA. One-third of Americans are vulnerable to heart diseases and stroke due to high cholesterol. To get rid of this, people usually avoid foods that are high in cholesterol. But according to the director of Tufts University’s Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, Alice Lichtenstein, the connection is not always the same.
Eating The Right Foods Reduce Cholesterol?
Earlier, there was a guideline issued by the US Department of Agriculture that specified the amount of cholesterol intake that a person should do. But the recommendation was removed in the department’s publication of 2015-2020. The recommendations are also not present in the new guidelines of 2021. And they have reasoned this with the lack of connection between cholesterol intake and an increase in its level.
Alice was a part of the committee that had laid down the previous recommendation. As per the old guidelines, cholesterol consumption was limited to 300 milligrams per day. But it is found that women in the US consume average cholesterol of 250 milligrams, while men consume about 350 milligrams. This indicates that people in the US do not generally surpass the consumption level.
According to Dr. Stephen Devries, who is a preventive cardiologist, foods that are rich in cholesterol can increase the cholesterol level in the blood. But the increase is not too significant. And one reason for this is that our body itself produces cholesterol. When we increase our consumption, the body reduces its cholesterol production to balance it off. Stephen is also the executive director of the Gaples Institute in Illinois, which is a nonprofit organization.
Health experts suggest that when deciding on a dietary plan, the focus should not be on a few food items because it can make the whole picture vague. For instance, eggs are often regarded as high in cholesterol. But self-reports of people on the number of eggs they eat per day do not list the other items that people eat alongside. Besides, eggs do not contain too many saturated fats.
Given this, Alice does not emphasize restricting eggs for people, especially those who do not have a high LDL level. Devries suggest that people should not eat more than four eggs a day, which includes the yolk.
But people with borderline high cholesterol need to restrict their consumption of eggs and other cholesterol-rich foods. Also, those who are at risk of cardiovascular diseases based on family history need to check on their cholesterol intake. Type 2 diabetics are vulnerable to cholesterol increase, as are hypersensitive to dietary cholesterol. Hypersensitive witness blood cholesterol increase even when they consume it within limits. Such people also need to consult their doctors before making a dietary plan.
For a proper dietary plan, nutrition experts advise people to pay equal attention to both the intake and elimination of food items. This means that saturated fats should be replaced with better options instead of refined carbs such as white bread. Because then there will be no significant difference in the levels of cholesterol. Similarly, people should replace seafood high on cholesterol, such as shrimp, with lean proteins such as shellfish.
According to Devries, people need to shift their focus from individual nutrients like cholesterol to nutrition labels. He further suggests that people should aim at replacing labeled foods with natural ones to attain good health. A good way to keep cholesterol levels in check is to replace sugary drinks, red meat, and packaged foods with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A gradual inclusion of healthy foods into the diet can also provide better results in the long run, said the experts.