High cholesterol is a very common condition in the United States and other places in the world because of poor lifestyle choices, like lack of exercise and unhealthy diets.
Bad cholesterol that blocks heart arteries and causes heart attacks is known as LDL. Elevated LDL levels cause preventable heart attacks and premature death.
Today, you will learn how eating some healthy, whole foods can help lower your cholesterol levels and the exact ways in which they do so.
How do these foods lower cholesterol?
Various foods work in different ways to lower cholesterol.
• One of the ways is through soluble fiber that attaches to bad cholesterol and removes it from the body before it can enter the bloodstream.
• The other way is through foods that provide good fats that lower the bad cholesterol, known as, LDL.
• Lastly, some whole foods provide plant sterols and stanols that block the absorption of cholesterol.
10 Foods To Lower Cholesterol Levels:
- Beans – Beans are second only to wheat bran in soluble fiber content, and they are especially high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber.
Studies have shown that eating, pinto, black, chickpea, kidney and butter beans can lower bad LDL by 10% in just 6 weeks.
Both beans and lentils contain soluble fiber and are slow to digest in the body, a lot of this fiber is the heart healthy variety that is a good replacement for animal proteins that contain a lot of unhealthy saturated fat that leads to high cholesterol levels.
- Oats – Oats, and specifically, steel cut oats also have a lot of soluble fiber and help keep bad cholesterol at bay.
- Fish – Salmon and sardines have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that lowers LDL cholesterol. Sardines also have potent anti-inflammatories that greatly reduce artery clogging triglycerides that block heart arteries. Eating fish two or three times per week is a great way to replace unhealthy animal proteins, such as, red meat.
- Avocados: Avocado is super healthy and contains high amounts of heart healthy monounsaturated fat that helps to raise good cholesterol, HDL, while lowering the bad LDL. They also contain beta-sitosterol that helps to lower cholesterol absorbed from food. Both of these qualities make avocados a true cholesterol fighting powerhouse.
Avocados are high in calories, so, it is recommended to eat them in moderation, but, since the Heart Association and other entities recommend a 15% intake of monosaturated fats daily, which means 30 grams in an 1800 calorie diet, one whole avocado fulfills this need as it has 30 grams of the good fat.
- Nuts – Many studies have shown that nuts, including, almonds, peanuts and walnuts are great for heart health and keeping bad cholesterol in check. The recommended 3 ounce of nuts per day can lower LDL and nuts have a variety of other nutrients and heart health benefits.
A study conducted in 2008 showed that eating about 2 to 3 ounces of pistachios each day can cause significant improvements in high LDL cholesterol for those diagnosed with the condition.
These nuts supply phytosterols, which is the all-natural plant compound that blocks absorption of dietary cholesterol. Pistachios are also great sources of fiber, monounsaturated fat, and antioxidants, all nutrients essential for heart health.
- Whole Grains – The all-important soluble fiber for fighting cholesterol is found in high amounts in whole grains, like oats, oat bran, wheat bran and barley.
- Eggplant and okra – These two low-calorie vegetables are more good sources of soluble fiber.
- Fiber supplements – Supplements can also be used to fight cholesterol, take two teaspoons of psyllium fiber from products like, Metamucil and you will get 4 grams of heart healthy soluble fiber.
- Vegetable oils – Healthy oils that do not elevate bad cholesterol levels in the blood, include, coconut oil, canola, sunflower, safflower and extra virgin olive oil. Butter and lard are often culprits in high cholesterol and so it is better to use the heart healthy liquid oils instead.
- Soy – Foods that are soy sources, include tofu, soybeans and soy milk. Studies have shown that consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day can lower LDL by about 5% to 6%.