Cholesterol 101 (5:56)
If you have a high cholesterol level, you are no doubt looking for a safe and effective way to bring it down. Medications are one way, but foods have more power than you might have imagined. Carefully chosen, foods can rival the power of prescription drugs.
Needless to say, be sure to speak with your doctor before staring any new treatment plan. Cholesterol problems can be dangerous, so you will want to be sure your doctor monitors how you are doing and advises you along the way.
Here are three steps for using foods to tackle cholesterol:
Step 1: Favor Foods From Plants
When I was growing up in North Dakota, my mother cooked up bacon for her children’s breakfasts, lifting the sizzling strips out of the grease with a fork and setting them on a paper towel to drain. Then, she carefully poured the hot grease into a jar to save it. She did not put the jar in the refrigerator; it went straight into the kitchen cupboard. She knew that as bacon grease cools, it turns solid and does not require refrigeration. The next day, she spooned the bacon grease back into the fry pan and fried eggs in it.
The fact that bacon grease is solid – as opposed to a liquid oil – is a sign that it is high in saturated fat (sometimes called “bad” fat), because it causes your body to make cholesterol. The big contributors of saturated fat in your diet are meats, dairy products, and eggs. The more you replace these products with plant-based foods, they better off you’ll be.
Fish are a bit of a mixed bag. Fish fat contains some omega-3 fats, also called “good fats,” which are healthier in some ways that other animal fats. However, 70 to 85 percent of fish fat is not omega-3. It is a mixture of plain old saturated fat and various other fats that offer no health benefits.