Diet to Reduce Cholesterol and Fight Atherosclerosis

Diet to Reduce Cholesterol and Fight Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries due to an accumulation of cholesterol-containing plaque. These plaques occlude the blood flow to the heart, thus resulting in CHD or coronary heart disease.

What Causes Atherosclerosis?

Plaque formation begins with damage to the lining of the arteries. Damage occurs due to injury by the free radicals. Once the artery has been damaged, the site attracts platelets and monocytes, which adhere to the damaged area. They release growth factors and stimulate plaque formation and accumulation of cholesterol.

High levels of serum cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and poor physical exercise are important contributing and triggering factors.

What are the Symptoms of Atherosclerosis?

More often than not, atherosclerosis and elevated levels of cholesterol do not display any signs or symptoms. They are referred to as the silent killer.

Occasional symptoms like dizziness, angina, nausea or fatigue may become evident.

Diet for Lowering Cholesterol Levels

The key dietary recommendations to keep cholesterol levels in check are as follow:

  • Eliminate saturated fats, trans-fats and cholesterol from the diet. Stay away from red meat, egg yolk, whole milk and its products, greasy food, crisps, cookies, biscuits and processed foods.
  • Increase the intake of heart-friendly mono-saturated fatty acids by consuming walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and sesame seeds.
  • Salt restriction plays a vital role in preventing CHD. It helps reduce blood pressure and cuts down the risk of cardiac failure.
  • Increase the intake of fiber. Fiber has powerful cholesterol-lowering properties and is protective against atherosclerosis. It helps in the elimination of cholesterol via feces. Oats, whole wheat, pulses, legumes, fruits and vegetables should be consumed liberally.
  • Cut down on refined foods. White flour and sugar do grave damage to the system. They are devoid of fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants, thus, increasing the risk of CHD.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids protect the heart. Walnuts, flax seeds and cold water fish (or a fish oil supplement, to avoid common contaminants found in fish) are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Atherosclerosis is linked to a diet that is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.

Following this course of action will demonstrate an appreciable improvement in the lipid profile. Furthermore, cholesterol-control and prevention of heart diseases requires a multi-disciplinary approach. The program must integrate right eating, appropriate diet, regular exercise, a healthy lifestyle and optimal stress management.

Categories: Diet, Health, Nutrition