Guidelines for a Dyslipidemia Diet

By Kelli Cooper

If you have dyslipidemia, it means you have high levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, and trigylcerides, a type of fat. These conditions can lead to the buildup of dangerous plaque in the arteries, which increases your risk of potentially deadly health problems like heart attack and stroke. Lifestyle changes like eating a better diet typically form a cornerstone of managing these conditions though you might also possibly require medication. Generally, the dietary strategies for managing each of these problems overlap but some unique measures apply to one or the other.

Cutting Back on Fat

Reducing your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol will help improve both aspects of dyslipidemia. The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, based on research and findings from the National Cholesterol Education Program, was designed to target risk factors for heart disease. The diet calls for no more than 7 percent of your daily calories to come from saturated fat and no more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol daily. Problematic foods include fatty meats, egg yolks, full-fat dairy, beef liver, chicken liver, shrimp and squid. Trans fats appear to be the most problematic according to Harvard Health Publications -- not only do they raise LDL more than saturated fats, they also appear to lower levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol that contributes to heart health. Trans fats, also referred to as hydrogenated oils, will most likely surface in commercially-prepared packaged foods, fried foods and fast foods. Read product labels carefully as manufacturers are allowed to list trans fat content as zero if the product contains less than 0.5 grams per serving -- if the ingredients list hydrogenated oils, it has trans fats. While that might seem like an insignificant amount, it can quickly add up and considering that the recommendations call for aiming for zero consumption, even a little might be too much.

Increasing Intake of Healthy Fats

Not all fats share a bad reputation. Many forms of fat are actually good for you and can help reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. You still must watch your daily intake however as calories are calories and all types of fat contain twice as many per gram as carbohydrates and protein. The TLC diet calls for limiting intake to no more than 35 percent of your total calories. Good sources of healthy fats include fatty fish like salmon and tuna, nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil and avocados.

Cholesterol-Specific Suggestions

All plant foods contain sterols, substances that have been shown to lower cholesterol. Eating enough plant foods to derive therapeutic levels, about 2,000 milligrams daily, would prove difficult however. For this reason, many foods and beverages have been fortified with plant sterols and will typically advertise this fact, such as certain types of healthy margarine and orange juice. Eating a fiber-rich diet will also help lower cholesterol levels as fiber binds to it in the intestine, which moves it out of the body rather than into the bloodstream.

Triglyceride-Specific Suggestions.

Being that triglycerides are a form of fat, you might think fat intake exerts the largest influence on triglyceride levels but it is actually simple sugars found in carbohydrate-rich foods, explains the Cleveland Clinic. This means you must watch your intake of refined carbohydrates like white bread and sugary foods and beverages. Eating too many starchy foods can prove problematic as well such as potatoes and corn. Choose whole fruits instead of dried fruits -- the latter contains more sugar -- and fruit juices. Reduce alcohol consumption because it interferes with the liver’s processing of fatty acids and increases triglycerides. Eat lots of low-carbohydrate vegetables like broccoli, spinach, leafy greens, onions and peppers and choose whole grain products.

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