Having high LDL or “bad” cholesterol is one of the primary risk factors for heart disease, the second leading cause of death in Canada.
In other words, if you have high LDL cholesterol, you are more likely to suffer from heart disease.
Both the likelihood of having high LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease also increases with age and tends to happen sooner in men ( 45+) than in women(55+).
The other big thing with cholesterol is that it is one of the most common conditions for which medication is prescribed for.
In other words, cholesterol lowering medications are among the most frequently prescribed and sold medications in Canada.
You probably know someone who is on such a medication, often known as statins.
I decided to write today’s article because I have noticed in my practice and personal life that I encounter an increasing number of middle-aged individuals ( primarily men) who are concerned with their high cholesterol and have been prescribed cholesterol lowering medication.
Many of these individuals tell me they do not want to take medications. Of course, I never suggest they go against the advice of their physician but…
The good news is, there is a group of five healthful foods and groups of foods available to us that , when consumed diligently and consistently, are known to have a cholesterol lowering effect similar to medication.
This does NOT guarantee that eating these foods will 100% replace the need for medication, but it may, but only your doctor can decide that.
These foods/food components include: Nuts, Legumes, Soluble Fibre, Soy, Plant Sterols.
If you want to learn more about each of these individual components and the research behind them, please have a look at my previous article on the subject, found here.
For your benefit, I have put these components together in a meal plan below, which I have playfully labelled as the “Cholesterol Crushing Meal Plan”
*Note: the exact proportions may need to modified depending on a personal characteristics such as age , gender , activity level and so on.
1/2 cup (dry) Oatmeal/Barley
1 Cup Soymilk
1 cup cooked Quinoa
3/4 cup cooked Lentils
*Optional: Add a leafy green salad with tomatoes or red pepper & 1 tbsp olive oil/vinegar.
1/4 cup Almonds
1/2 brick of Tofu ( ~175 grams) OR 1 cup of edamame
2 small Sweet Potatoes OR 2 small Russet Potatoes with 2 tbsp of Plant Sterol Margarine
2-3 cups of Broccoli OR Brussel Sprouts
*Optional: Piece of fruit for dessert.
3/4 cup Soy Yogurt
1/2 cup Berries of choice
If you or someone you care about is concerned about high cholesterol, give this meal plan a try as it incorporates all of the most important cholesterol lowering foods.
Remember, you can learn more about all of the key components of this meal plan here , doing so will allow you to be a bit more creative with the meal planning process going forward.
Andy De Santis RD MPH