How you can use your diet to lower your cholesterol.
Do you have high cholesterol? Did you know that on top of avoiding high cholesterol foods, eating the right foods can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and protect your heart? In fact, research has shown that a diet with the right combination of cholesterol-lowering foods works better at bringing down high cholesterol than a diet low in saturated fat and high in fiber and whole grains. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat high-fiber foods and avoid saturated fats, but it does mean you should include cholesterol-lowering foods in an already healthy diet.
What are the top foods that will help lower your bad cholesterol levels? Great question. Now to the answer!
Fatty Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Certain fish contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These acids actively work to reduce your blood pressure, lower your risk of blood clots, lower triglycerides, and boost your HDL (good) cholesterol. Try to eat two servings of fish each week. The fish with the highest amounts of fatty acids include lake trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, albacore tuna, halibut, and salmon. Keep in mind that these fish are called “fatty” for a reason. To prepare these fish in the healthiest possible manner, get out the grill or bake the fish. Don’t care for fish? Ground flaxseed and canola oil contain a small amount of fatty acids as well.
Foods High in Soluble Fiber like Oatmeal and Oat Bran
Soluble fiber is found in oatmeal, oat bran, kidney beans, pears, apples, prunes, and barley. Soluble fiber works to lower your LDL cholesterol by reducing the amount of cholesterol absorbed into your bloodstream. It also keeps you feeling full for longer, which helps you avoid eating unhealthy foods you’ll later regret.
If you need to lower your cholesterol, aim to eat 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber each day as part of your recommended daily amount of fiber. Women under 50 need 25 grams a day, and women over 50 need 21 grams. Men under 50 should get 38 grams a day, while men over 50 years of age need 30 grams. A breakfast of oatmeal with a banana is a great way to get started, as it provides 10 grams of soluble fiber.
Walnuts and Other Nuts
If you like to snack on nuts, here is some more good news: many nuts, including walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, and hazelnuts help lower your blood cholesterol and triglycerides. These nuts are full of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help keep your blood vessels healthy. They are also a good source of fiber.
Eating just one and a half ounces, or one handful of nuts a day, will help lower your risk of heart disease. Try adding nuts to your cereal, yogurt, or salad. Or just eat them by themselves. But keep in mind that though they’re good for your heart, nuts are also high in calories. So eat up, but don’t overdo it.
If you use cooking oil, reach for olive oil. Even though it is full of fat like all oils, it is high in monounsaturated fat, a fat that works to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and doesn’t affect your HDL (good) cholesterol. Extra-virgin olive oil seems to have the greatest affect on lowering cholesterol. It is also less processed and contains high levels of antioxidants.
For maximum olive oil benefits, try squeezing 2 tablespoons of it into your diet each day.
Sterols and Stanols
While you may consider food additives unhealthy, sterols and stanols are two additives that are actually good for you. Naturally occurring in plants, these substances are added to foods and lower your cholesterol by preventing your intestines from absorbing cholesterol.
Foods fortified with sterols or stanols include margarine, other spreads, orange juice, cheese, granola bars, and yogurt drinks. Still skeptical about eating any type of food additive? Consider this: Eating these sterol- and stanol-fortified foods twice a day has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol by up to 17 percent.
Not By Yourself
The risks of high cholesterol are too high too ignore or to handle on your own. Instead of trying to handle your cholesterol on your own, talk with a health professional about the best way to manage your cholesterol. Because you’ve only got one chance at good health.
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