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Cholesterol and Low Cholesterol Foods 

Cholesterol has become a commonly known term in the recent years, as more and more people are diagnosed with high cholesterol. Cholesterol is an element that is produced in the body in small quantities. It is required for normal cellular growth. Cholesterol is also found in various foods in a regular diet. As a result, the body collects more cholesterol than it requires, and that’s where the problems start. 
When there is more cholesterol in the body than it requires it doesn’t get used up.
The result is a cholesterol plaque formation in the body’s major blood vessels. Over time this formation grows thicker and starts to clog the vessels. This in prevents the smooth flow of blood to the heart. 
If not treated, high cholesterol leads to a number of fatal conditions including heart failure and strokes. Fortunately controlling cholesterol (at least in the initial stages) is very simple.  Cholesterol can be controlled by consuming a low cholesterol diet
Low Cholesterol Meals – Once you start looking you’ll find a number of cholesterol free foods in the market. The idea is to combine cholesterol free foods with low cholesterol foods to make healthy low cholesterol meals. Before you begin scouting for low cholesterol recipes, consult your doctor or nutritionist and figure out a healthy meal plan. This begins with understanding that cholesterol can’t be eliminated. After all it is important for healthy body function. The second is to identify and cut out foods that increase the levels of cholesterol in the body. 
List of Low Cholesterol Foods – If you need low cholesterol foods, the following list may prove a useful guide for whipping up a low cholesterol meal: 
Fresh Fruits and Greens – Like most health problems, high cholesterol can be controlled with healthy portions of fresh greens and fruits. These are rich in nutrients (think proteins and fibers) and give the body all the energy it needs without adding fat or cholesterol to the equations. Include a vegetable side dish and a fresh salad (raw foods are better) with every meal; when cooking vegetable be sure not to overcook them. And instead of an unhealthy dessert try a plate of fruits and yogurt. 
Legumes and Lentils – Legumes and lentils are classified as vegetables, but they are a unique food set. They are very nutritious being rich in fiber, folic acid and potassium; they are also low in fat and are a cholesterol free food. The most popular legumes and lentils include beans, peas and soybeans.  
Whole grains – Whole grains are another positive choice to make when it comes to battling cholesterol. They are packed with nutrients but their greatest benefit is that they make a number of traditionally cholesterol raising foods healthier. For example whole grain pasta and whole grain bread are much healthier options to regular pasta and bread. 
Fats – Like cholesterol the idea isn’t to cut out fats completely from your diet – fats are required for a well balanced diet. It is important to distinguish between good fats (unsaturated fats) and bad fats (saturated fats). Saturated fats aggravate the cholesterol levels in the body and therefore they need to be avoided. Foods in this group include butter, dairy products, and animal fat. Fats that can be consumed in moderation include olive oil, nuts, avocado, and so on. 
Meats – If you suffer from high cholesterol it is best to cut out or lower the quantity of red meat consumption. These tend to raise levels of cholesterol in the body. Substitute red meats with lean meats like chicken and turkey for a low cholesterol meal. 

Submitted on November 17, 2010