Myths about lowering Cholesterol levels
Many believe that avoiding non-veg foods is the best treatment for lowering cholesterol. This will certainly help you but if you eat other foods rich in fat instead of the non-veg it can be dangerous. For e.g. A person who had given up non-veg substituted it with fried papad and pickles at both lunch and dinner. This can be harmful. If your cholesterol level is above 200mg/dl, you simply need to cut out the intake of all foods rich in cholesterol, along with all foods rich in fat content- fatty foods. You certainly can not give up these foods for the rest of your lives but you must try to give it up completely for at least a three month period. If during this period you continue to indulge in them once or twice a week the cholesterol level will not go up but will not go down either. It will be maintained.
We believe is that to reduce cholesterol we need to first understand which foods contain high levels of cholesterol, which foods contain saturated fat and which foods have a very high fat content like deep fried food, pickles, nuts etc. In order to affectively lower cholesterol levels you need to reduce intake of foods high in cholesterol and control intake of total fat consumption per day.
First of all let's deal with foods with very high cholesterol content. Non-veg foods like organ meats, liver, brain, kidney, shrimp (small prawns) egg yolk, mutton, beef, pork, cream of milk (whole milk) ice-cream, butter, ghee, cheese and paneer, contain fat of animal origin and all these fats contain cholesterol. They must be completely avoided till you see the levels drop to at least 170. After this you may eat any of these once in a week, at any one meal. But now don't touch these.
Saturated fats are identified as fats that solidify at room temperature. They may be of vegetable origin and therefore do not contain cholesterol naturally. However since the type of fat is saturated it is easily converted to cholesterol in your body. Hydrogenated margarines or butter substitutes and other solid fats that we use to make bakery items like cookies, biscuits and cakes, puffs and pastries are also dangerous. So don't liberally spread your bread with butter substitutes, you can't use it at all till your levels are normal. Try to use green chutney, ketchup, jam or honey on bread but not butter of any-kind. The label of the fat substitutes will read as zero cholesterol content. This is true as they are made from vegetable fats which do not contain cholesterol. However this does not mean zero fat. One teaspoon fat substitute and one teaspoon ghee will both give you 45 calories.
So you can't touch pickle or papad till your level drops but you may eat your chicken and fish without skin,twice/thrice a week at lunch. In order to get your protein intake, you may eat two egg whites even daily, as they are a good source of high quality protein without fat. You need to take 500 ml of commercially skimmed milk daily. The dairy milk with fat removed is not good enough and is to be avoided as far as possible.
A couple of marie biscuits or crackers is all that you may have with tea but any other biscuits or cookies must be avoided for a while. A slice of whole wheat bread is an option too. Chocolate, ice-cream and all other creamy desserts have to be avoided. Chocolate is saturated fat. Coconut and coconut chutney is also solid fat so dangerous for a cholesterol patient.
Finally all fried foods and snacks have to be avoided as they will contribute to the total fat intake in the diet going up and the cholesterol level cannot come down. Lastly nuts are again 50-60% fat content. Even if it is unsaturated fat that they contain 100gm of nuts is approximately 500 calories and 50-60% of this is fat. Even roasted or boiled, it makes no difference, the fat is inside, so please avoid.
What you need to do is follow the above rules very strictly for 3-4 months till you strike normal levels of cholesterol. A total amount of 2-3 teaspoons oil may be used daily to season dhals, vegetables etc. Avoid coconut oil.