One out of three American adults has high LDL cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A cholesterol-free diet can be part of a regimen to help prevent or lower high blood cholesterol levels. To promote heart health on a cholesterol-free diet, emphasize nutrient-dense foods.
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Dietary Cholesterol and Blood Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is a component of each of your body’s cells and a necessary element in the production of sex hormones, according to Arizona State University. It is not an essential nutrient in your diet because your body makes its own cholesterol. For some people, consuming dietary cholesterol leads to unhealthy increases in LDL cholesterol. Because high levels of total and LDL cholesterol in your blood increase your risk for heart disease, a cholesterol-free diet can help some people lower their risk. Choose plant-based foods and cholesterol-free egg substitutes to avoid cholesterol in your diet.
Eat a Plant-Based Diet
Plants cannot produce cholesterol, so a cholesterol-free diet consists of plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and beans. Because cholesterol is a component of every cell in animal’s bodies, animal products naturally contain cholesterol. Eggs, chicken and beef dishes are top contributors of cholesterol to the typical American diet, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Seafood and dairy products also contain cholesterol. A cholesterol-free diet also excludes products with animal-derived ingredients such as milk, butter or eggs. To stick to a cholesterol-free diet, make a stir fry with tofu instead of chicken or shrimp, and add edamame or garbanzo beans instead of tuna to salads to increase their protein content.
Ensure Adequate Nutrient Intake
Animal-derived products are not part of a cholesterol-free diet, but they provide important nutrients. Eat adequate substitutes to meet your daily nutrient requirements. Get calcium and vitamin D from fortified orange juice, breakfast cereals or soy milk instead of from milk, cheese and yogurt. Meat, poultry and fish provide high-quality protein, iron and zinc, but beans, whole grains and nuts can help meet your requirements for these nutrients. On a cholesterol-free meal plan, you could have cereal with soy milk and fruit for breakfast, split pea soup and a green salad with soy cheese for lunch and a tofu stir fry with enriched brown rice for dinner.
Make your cholesterol-free diet plan healthier by limiting your consumption of saturated fat, which raises your blood LDL cholesterol levels. In addition, dietary cholesterol has less of an impact on your blood cholesterol levels when your diet is low in saturated fat, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Saturated fat is in fatty meats, poultry skin, full-fat dairy products and palm and coconut oils. To further lower your cholesterol levels, avoid artificial trans fats, such as those in fried foods and partially hydrogenated oils in snack foods. On your cholesterol-free diet plan, spread peanut butter instead of butter on toast, and dip vegetables in guacamole instead of cheese-based dip.