Here are eleven foods that lower cholesterol, because you know your doctor will fuss if you don’t!
After all, If your diet gave you high cholesterol, it can lower it, too.
Changing your menu to include the eleven foods that lower cholesterol will improve the amount of trouble-making fats floating through your bloodstream.
It’s a two-step solution:
➡ Add foods that lower LDL, the harmful cholesterol-carrying particle that contributes to atherosclerosis (clogged arteries).
➡ Cut back on foods that raise LDL. If you miss this step, you’ll be at a standstill, instead of making progress toward victory, at a slow and steady pace.
In With The Good
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways.
➡ Some foods contain soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol (and the fats that preceded it) in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation.
➡ Some offer polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL.
The “good-for-you” foods to add to your diet:
It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram.
Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber. (The average American gets about half that amount.)
2. Barley and other whole grains:
- Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly because of the soluble fiber they deliver.
Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal.
That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. There are so many to choose from:
- Lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond — and there are tons of ways to prepare them. Beans are a very versatile food.
- Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, by about 5%. Plus, nuts have other nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.
6. Vegetable oils:
- Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or at the table helps lower LDL.
- Apples, grapes, strawberries and citrus fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL cholesterol.
8. Foods fortified with sterols and stanols:
- Sterols and stanols, extracted from plants, gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food.
Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate. They’re also available as supplements.
- Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.
Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once touted as a powerful way to lower cholesterol.
- Analyses show a more “modest” effect, but consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day (10 ounces of tofu or 2 1/2 cups of soy milk) can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.
10. Fatty fish:
By replacing meat, you can avoid the dreaded saturated fats, famous for raising LDL levels. In addition, fish delivers Omega 3 fats, proven to lower LDL cholesterol.
- Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.
11. Fiber supplements:
Supplements are probably the “least appealing” way to get soluble fiber, but…
- Just two teaspoons a day of psyllium, which is found in Metamucil and other bulk-forming laxatives, provides about 4 grams of soluble fiber.
Out With The Bad
Harmful LDL climbs upward and the good, protective HDL falls, largely because of diet and other lifestyle choices.
Genes play a role, too — some people are genetically programmed to respond more readily to what they eat — but genes aren’t something you can change.
Here are four things you can:
Typical sources of artery-clogging saturated fat include:
- Animal products, such as red meat
- Whole-fat dairy products
- Plus a few vegetable oils, such as palm oil, coconut oil, and cocoa butter.
- Saturated fat can increase your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.
In the interest of fairness, however, it does have some benefits also: It lowers triglycerides and raises the levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
However, saturated fats are a hotly debated issue right now, and my personal recommendation would be that you cut out as many of them as possible from your diet.
The right amount of trans fats is zero!
These fats have no nutritional value — and we know for certain they are bad for heart health.
- Trans fats raise the level of LDL cholesterol (the bad guy) and triglycerides while reducing levels of HDL cholesterol (the good guy).
The FDA (Food And Drug Administration) has banned trans fats from the U.S. food supply. The phasing-out process is expected to take three years.
The encouraging news is that many major food suppliers and restaurants have already substituted healthier fats for trans fats.
Excess weight raises the level of harmful LDL cholesterol, and inactivity lowers the level of the protective cholesterol, HDL.
- Losing weight if needed and exercising more reverses these trends.
Putting it all together
You know, when it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket.
The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol.
➡ Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways works better than focusing on just one or two.
➡ A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure.
➡ The key dietary components are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants.
➡ Add margarine enriched with plant sterols; oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant (all rich in soluble fiber), soy protein and whole almonds to your menu.
Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more time and attention than popping a daily Statin medication.
- It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors.
But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.
Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol.
- It keeps blood pressure in check.
- It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive.
- It’s good for bones and digestive health
- It’s good for vision and mental health