If your ApoB, LDL- cholesterol or triglycerides are raised then the first thing to do is to have a look at your diet and lifestyle. 

The most common cause of a raised ApoB is too much saturated fats in your diet. If you are also not exercising enough then this will be compounded further.

Moving to a more plant-based diet and restricting your animal fat content can have a powerful impact on your lipid profile.

Diet, exercise, stress management and social interaction have all been shown to improve cholesterol profiles. If followed carefully it can mitigate the need to take lipid-lowering medications, many of which can cause other issues.

Dietary Guidelines

  • Fat Intake: The lipid-lowering diet championed by Dr Dean Ornish recommends that only about 10% of daily calories come from fat, particularly emphasising the reduction of saturated and trans fats.
  • Plant-Based Foods: It primarily consists of whole, unprocessed plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
  • Protein Sources: Protein is mainly obtained from plant sources. Non-fat dairy and egg whites are allowed in moderation.
  • Fibre-Rich: High in dietary fibre, which is beneficial for lowering cholesterol and promoting heart health.
  • Low in Refined Carbohydrates: Limit the intake of refined sugars and flour.
  • Avoidance of Certain Foods: Red meat, processed meats, and foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol are avoided.

1. Whole Grains

  • Types: Brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta, quinoa, oats, barley.
  • Portion Sizes: Generally, 1/2 cup cooked grains or 1 slice of wholegrain sourdough bread per serving. Aim for 3-5 servings per day.

2. Fruits and Vegetables

  • Types: The emphasis is on variety, including leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower), berries, apples, and citrus fruits.
  • Eat the rainbow, aim to have 5 different colours on your plate.
  • Avoid beige anything and that includes potatoes which are basically starch and should be avoided. Sweet potatoes are a good substitute.
  • Portion Sizes: Vegetables - 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw per serving. Fruits - 1 medium piece or 1/2 cup chopped. Recommended to have 4-5 servings of each per day.

3. Legumes

  • Types: Beans, lentils, peas, and soy products like tofu and tempeh.
  • Portion Sizes: 1/2 cup cooked per serving. Aim for 1-2 servings per day.

4. Non-fat Dairy (Optional)

  • Types: Non-fat milk, yoghurt, and cheese.
  • Portion Sizes: 1 cup for milk and yoghurt, 1/2 cup for cottage cheese. Limit to 2 servings per day.

Foods to Limit

  • Animal Products: Most animal products are discouraged except for egg whites and non-fat dairy. Fish may be included 2-3 times a week for those following a less strict version.
  • Fats: The diet is very low in fat, recommending that fat constitutes no more than 10% of daily caloric intake. The use of oils, even healthy ones like olive oil, is limited.
  • Processed and Refined Foods: White bread, white rice, sugary snacks, and processed foods must be avoided.

Additional Guidelines

  • Meals: The Diet doesn't strictly limit portion sizes but focuses on food quality and recommends eating until satiated, not stuffed. The emphasis is on low-fat, high-fibre foods that help with feeling full.

Tip: Follow the French habit of always leaving some food on your plate. That means stopping eating when you are full/ satiated rather than when you cleared your plate.

  • Snacks: Healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, and small portions of nuts (in moderation due to high-fat content) are encouraged. Blueberries and raspberries are a good option.
  • Beverages: Water, tea, and non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages are recommended. Limited use of caffeine and alcohol is advised.

Sample Daily Menu

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with fresh berries and a dollop of non-fat yoghurt.
  • Lunch: A large salad with vegetables, beans, and a whole grain roll. The dressing should be low-fat and used sparingly.
  • Snack: Apple slices or carrot sticks.
  • Dinner: Stir-fried vegetables and tofu over brown rice.

Lifestyle Integration

  • Exercise: At least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, daily.
  • Stress Management: Daily practices of stress-reducing techniques like yoga or meditation.
  • Emotional Support: Regular connection with supportive friends or family members.

Other resources for Cholesterol lowering information

1. The Mayo Clinic is one of the leading health centres in the world.

Cholesterol: Top foods to improve your numbers Mayo Clinic

2. The NIH is the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institutes in the US.

Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) To Lower Cholesterol NIH

3. The Cleveland Clinic is another leading US clinic

Cholesterol and Nutrition Cleveland Clinic

4. Dr Dean Ornish runs an online programme for lowering Cholesterol, a 9 week programme

Dean Ornish Online Programme

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