Cholesterol can be found in the body and in certain foods. It is a type of fat that has many functions in the body: it is used to make Vitamin D as well as hormones and it is a building block of cell membranes. It is a necessary body substance. A cholesterol diet may be required when cholesterol is too high.
The Basics of Cholesterol Diets
Cholesterol, a vital substance in the body, has been associated with heart disease and stroke, giving it a bad reputation. The issue arises when there is too much cholesterol in the body as it leads to a buildup in the artery walls, which in effect can narrow the arteries reducing blood flow.
In order to have a good balance of cholesterol in the blood, it is important to eat a balanced diet that includes less fat and increase physical activity. Both of these things combined decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke. By lowering the bad cholesterol in the body, chances are weight-loss will occur as well. It is as simple as slowly replacing high-fat foods with lower fat alternatives. This diet is comprised of foods that are low in carbohydrates, saturated and trans fats and high in complex carbohydrates, “good” fats and protein. Some guidelines for cholesterol diets include: reducing fat intake, limiting intake of saturated fats, eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, choosing lean meats, enjoying fish and practicing portion control.
Health Factors of Cholesterol Diets
Most of the health factors of cholesterol diets are positive. The main health benefit of cholesterol diets is that lowered cholesterol equals lowered risk of heart disease. When the body produces too much cholesterol, it enters the bloodstream and causes blockages. These blockages can build up in the arteries that run to the heart or in those that run to the brain. It is these blockages that lead to heart-related ailments, including heart attacks and strokes.
Another health benefit of lowering cholesterol is weight loss. By replacing unhealthy food choices with healthier alternatives, it is common to lose weight on a low cholesterol diet. Weight loss has its own health benefits attributed to it, including reduction in risk of health ailments and decrease in symptoms of certain diseases.
One potential caution to consider is the diet should not be taken to extremes as that can lead to an unhealthy diet. For example, an extreme may be to cut out all types of fat in the diet instead of just saturated and trans fats. This diet then has the potential to cause other health ailments, even if the cholesterol in the body is being lowered.
Cost Associated with Cholesterol Diets
For cholesterol-lowing diets there is little extra cost. This is due in part as there is no special food to buy. As the diet consists of substituting unhealthy foods with healthier foods, there is no extra food to buy. Some diets require special food to be purchased that is much higher in price.
One rise in cost that may be associated with the cholesterol diet is that sometimes healthier food may be a little more costly than unhealthier food. Often healthy foods include fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals and so on which may be priced a little higher than frozen foods, white breads and less healthy cereals.