Mediterranean Diet to Lower Cholesterol – Overview
If you find out that you have high cholesterol levels, it is time to take action and lower them.
High cholesterol puts you at serious risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and other potentially life-threatening health issues.
Fortunately, you can follow numerous dietary guidelines to lower your cholesterol levels.
The dietary plans do not work the same for every person, so you have to be extremely careful about the one you choose.
However, of all the diet plans in the market, one of the most effective for lowering cholesterol levels is the Mediterranean Diet is unbeatable.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
It is important to note that, unlike many other restrictive diets, the Mediterranean diet does not have too many restrictions.
The diet does not advocate avoiding any particular food completely, but you simply cannot consume certain foods in large quantities.
For people who do not want to eliminate certain foods from their diet, it can be a little more refreshing.
In the Mediterranean Sea countries, the Mediterranean diet is the typical dietary pattern. The diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
It also advocates consuming lean animal proteins such as chicken, fish, and eggs instead of high-fat red meats and processed foods.
Other foods include plant-based proteins such as beans and legumes consumed in smaller portions and low-fat dairy.
The Mediterranean diet is more of a way of life that includes eating with others, drinking an occasional glass of red wine, and engaging in physical activity regularly.
The diet is in contrast to the typical Western diet, characterized by a high intake of animal products such as meat and dairy, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods high in sugar and unhealthy fats.
Does the Mediterranean Diet Lower Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an essential component in the body as it aids in the digestion of fatty foods. There are two types of cholesterol: produced by the body and obtained through food consumption.
Many foods high in cholesterol are foods you should avoid or, at the very least, limit in consumption when following a Mediterranean diet.
More than half of the fat calories in typical Mediterranean dietary foods come from monounsaturated healthy fats and low-calorie diets.
Moreover, the diet does not raise blood cholesterol levels, unlike saturated fat found in fatty beef, processed foods, butter, and cheese.
Most cholesterol in your diet comes from animal products and other high-calorie foods. Excessive cholesterol in your diet can cause this substance to accumulate in the arteries.
Depending on the circumstances, your arteries become narrow, which may reduce or completely block the amount of blood passing through them.
Narrow or blocked arteries increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
The Mediterranean diet begins with substituting most of one’s high calorie and fatty foods for a small amount of low-fat, low-calorie and high fiber foods.
The diet plan also advocates for a change in lifestyle that can lead to significant health benefits.
Scientific evidence supports the findings that the dietary plan can improve cardiovascular health and offer other health benefits, including lowering cholesterol.
The Mediterranean diet can lower lipid levels while simultaneously increasing HDL levels, or “good cholesterol,” in the blood.
Does The Mediterranean Diet Have Any Drawbacks?
Curtailing or eliminating speciﬁc foods from your diet can harm your health, just as it can with any other diet.
The Mediterranean diet may, in some cases, result in the following conditions:
- Weight gain from consuming more than the fats recommended in your diet
- Lack of meat consumption which is high in proteins and other nutrients, might lead to low iron levels in the body
- Consuming fewer dairy products might lead to low calcium levels in the body
If you decide to follow the Mediterranean diet, talk to your primary care provider about keeping your diet balanced. You might also need to take supplements alongside your diet to maintain good health.
8 Mediterranean Diet to Lower Cholesterol Tips
The Mediterranean diet advocates for the consumption of the following foods:
- A wide range of fruits
- A wide range of vegetables
- Healthy nuts
- Whole Grains
- Unsaturated fats
The following tips should also help you achieve the desired effects of a Mediterranean diet, especially if you want to lower your cholesterol and stay healthy.
1. Use Olive Oil
When cooking, use olive oil instead of butter or lard. Use a soft spread of vegetable oil on your bread instead of butter or margarine.
You can also use virgin oil to add flavor to your salad and pasta dishes as it is low in fat content.
2. Steam or Grill
Steam or grill your food, as they are healthier cooking alternatives to frying. The methods also allow you to appreciate the delicate Mediterranean flavors more.
3. Eat More Fish
Replace red meat with more fish as it is a source of lean protein. Eat fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines.
They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that the body needs. However, you can also include leaner fish such as tilapia or cod, as they are great protein sources.
4. Eat Lots of Vegetables Daily
You can never have enough vegetables when you are on the Mediterranean diet. It would be best if you had veggie helpings the whole day.
You can also snack on veggie strips such as ball peppers in between meals or take a healthy veggie smoothie.
5. Eat Fruits for Dessert
Swap your sugary and high-fat baked desserts with fruits. You can also snack on fruits in between meals.
6. Snack on Nuts
Snack on healthy nuts as they are filling, rich in fiber, potassium, and other minerals, and low in calories. The best nuts to snack on are pistachios, almonds, and cashews.
7. Add Flavor to Your Meals with Herbs and Spices
Rather than putting additional sugar or salt into your dish, season it with fresh herbs or citrus juice.
The best herbs to use for seasoning or adding flavor to your food are garlic, parsley, turmeric, and cumin, among others.
8. Enjoy an Occasional Glass of Wine
Little wine-3 ounces for women and 5 ounces for men each day will not do any harm to your health or increase your cholesterol levels.
Foods to Avoid
Whereas the Mediterranean diet is not rigid, you should avoid consuming any foods that might affect your cholesterol levels and other health issues such as cardiovascular health. The foods to avoid include
- Processed or baked foods
- Sugars and sweets
- High sodium foods
- Refined grains
- Hydrogenated or refined oils
- Alcohol other than wine
- Butter and high-fat dairy products
- Processed and red meat
- Baked high-calorie foods
The Mediterranean diet is one of the most effective plans for anyone that wants to lower their cholesterol levels, lose weight, and improve their heart health. It is one of the most thoroughly researched dietary plans in the world.
If you have any challenges, it is always advisable to talk to a dietician or physician to develop the best dietary plan to lower your high cholesterol.