Can You Lower Cholesterol and Still Eat Meat?

We got our first taste of a low cholesterol diet very nearly the hard way. A checkup on a family member ended up in angioplasty, three stents and a whole new appreciation for diet.

The first two years of this new diet was spent on poultry and fish. There are only so many ways to prepare these foods before we all were about to go batty. This was especially true for the other members of the family, as there are very few types of seafood they like.

Then we started to do some research, and what we found was startling. There are cuts of beef and pork that are just as healthy as boneless/skinless chicken breast. There are also cuts of poultry that have just as much fat as a well marbled steak.

There were other things we learned. Cholesterol doesn’t just come from the food we eat. Our body produces it as well, which is why even vegetarians can have cholesterol problems. Heredity does play a role in this issue.

There are some cholesterol busters. Salmon and cold water fish can help lower LDL (low density lipoprotein) and raise HDL (high density lipoprotein). Those who can’t stand eating fish can take fish oil capsules.

If even that doesn’t appeal, whether because of taste or ethical reasons, flax seed oil and ground flax seed can substitute. Whole flax seeds are not a good option. We don’t have the grinding ability to crack them and they pass right through.

Don’t forget the role fiber plays in cholesterol absorption. Fiber, including whole grains, can block absorption of both naturally produced cholesterol and the animal version in your diet. This can improve your numbers as well. If you remember some of the whole oat cereal commercials, it could lower your LDL numbers up to 30 points in just one month.

One new thing that has come up is about grass fed beef. These animals don’t eat grains, they aren’t shot full of antibiotics and bovine growth hormone. They just eat natural grass…and they have the same amount of Omega-3 fatty acids as the salmon you may well loathe.

Before you make the decision to switch from the diet recommended by your cardiologist, it’s a good idea to talk to him or her. It’s also a good idea to talk to a nutritionist. Be forewarned that not all cardiologists are up on the latest breaking food news, so you may want to bring in some literature about the grass fed beef. Never make a change of this nature without consultation, as it could be make a significant difference.

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