Cut cholesterol and boost heart health with 7 delicious foods. Oats, avocados, nuts eat your way to better numbers. Adopting a heart-healthy diet has been shown to have positive effects on both blood cholesterol levels and heart health. Learn which foods have the greatest impact on reducing cholesterol levels.
What is cholesterol?
Your body naturally produces cholesterol, which is a waxy fat-like molecule found in your blood. Eggs, offal (such kidney and liver), and shellfish are also good sources. Your body can’t function without some cholesterol.
Atherosclerosis progresses more rapidly in people with hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol levels). Plaque narrows the arterial walls by accumulating there over time. Over time, this can restrict blood flow and lead to serious health problems including a heart attack or stroke.
Types of cholesterol
There are no outward manifestations of high cholesterol. To determine whether or not you have it, a blood test is required. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol levels (described further below) can be determined using a blood test.
Various ‘carriers’ (lipoproteins) transport cholesterol throughout the body. Two of the most frequent are:
- The ‘bad’ cholesterol is called low-density lipoprotein (LDL). High levels of LDL cholesterol are considered “bad” because of the damage they can do to blood vessel walls.
- The ‘good’ cholesterol is HDL cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The ‘good’ HDL cholesterol helps clear the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol out of the blood arteries.
Triglycerides are the most frequent type of fat in the body and are responsible for lipid storage and transit in the circulatory system. Triglycerides are stored in the body in exchange for any surplus energy from diet.
Total blood cholesterol, which includes triglycerides, is an indicator of the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.
7 foods that lower your cholesterol
Cholesterol can be lowered with the help of certain meals, each of which has its own unique mechanism of action. Include as many of the following in your meals as possible:
1. Oats and barley
Eating foods made with whole grains lowers cholesterol and prevents heart disease. Particularly notable about oats and barley is its abundance of beta glucan, a form of soluble fiber. The ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in your blood can be reduced by taking beta glucan.
2. Vegetables and fruit
Protect yourself from cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even some malignancies by eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. Soluble fiber, found in abundance in vegetables and fruit, aids in cholesterol absorption and decreases “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.
3. Foods rich in heart-healthy fats
Consuming a diet rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats is associated with higher levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood. The lipids in these foods are good for your heart.
- The fatty fish group includes salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
- Seeds and nuts
- Plant-based fats and margarines
Eating these foods rather than those high in saturated fat (butter, cream, and animal fats) will help lower blood cholesterol levels. It will also lower your chance of developing heart disease.
4. Legumes and beans
Chickpeas, lentils, and other legumes are excellent plant-based protein and soluble fiber sources. If you’re trying to cut down on your ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, swapping out some of your meat (animal protein) for legumes and beans may assist.
Nuts are excellent for your heart because they include healthy fats and fiber. The ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are lowered by a regular nut diet.
6. Soy products
Tofu, soy milk, soybeans, and edamame are all examples of soy products. There is some evidence that consuming soy products on a daily basis can assist bring about a minor reduction in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
7. Plant sterols
Plant sterols can be found in foods such fruits, vegetables, nuts, and cereals, but only in trace amounts. Plant sterols, however, are added to several foods (including margarine). ‘Bad’ LDL cholesterol can be lowered by including plant sterol-containing foods in a healthy diet plan. This is because they induce less cholesterol to be absorbed into the body.
Is there a quick fix to lower cholesterol?
There is no magic bullet for lowering cholesterol levels. There is no magic diet or meal that will magically reduce your cholesterol levels. Medications are necessary for some people with high cholesterol, while lifestyle changes may help others.
Regardless, a healthy heart is the result of a high-quality diet that consists primarily of heart-friendly foods eaten on a regular basis.