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HomeHeartCholesterol15 Cholesterol-Lowering Healthy Foods You Should Try

15 Cholesterol-Lowering Healthy Foods You Should Try

Cholesterol-Lowering Healthy Foods: Cholesterol is a type of fat in our blood that is produced naturally by the body and we also need it from outside sources for the proper function of the body. But if we have too much in our blood, it can stick to the walls of our arteries and narrow or even block them. This puts us at risk for coronary artery disease and other heart diseases.

High cholesterol can be caused by several factors, including family history. Lack of exercise, being overweight, an unhealthy diet (think high intake of fast foods, processed foods, animal fats, and sugar), plus smoking and alcohol can all play a role in raising your cholesterol. Although high cholesterol doesn’t have symptoms, so it’s important to practice prevention.

There is no single food that will help to lower cholesterol so it is important to focus on the quality of the overall diet. However, a diet rich in unsaturated fats with added sterols and stanols, fruits and vegetables, soy foods, whole grains, nuts, and seeds will help to manage cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Also Read: 12 Main Causes of High Bad Cholesterol You Should Be Aware Of

15 Cholesterol-Lowering Healthy Foods

  1. Eggplant:

This is high in dietary fiber containing soluble pectin. A 100-g portion contains 3 grams of fiber. According to American Heart Association, fiber helps improve blood cholesterol levels. It also reduces the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

  1. Okra: 

Researchers have found that a gel in okra (warm season vegetable) called mucilage can help lower cholesterol by binding to it during digestion. This helps cholesterol leave the body through the stool. Okra is also rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that results in the lowering of high cholesterol.

  1. Fruits and Berries:  

Many types of fruit are rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels. It does this by encouraging the body to get rid of cholesterol and stopping the liver from producing this compound. One kind of soluble fiber called pectin lowers cholesterol by up to 10%. It is found in fruits including apples, grapes, citrus fruits, and strawberries.

In a small study among 40 participants with mildly high cholesterol, eating two apples a day reduced both total and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels. It also lowered levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. One apple can contain 3–7 g of dietary fiber, depending on its size. In addition, apples contain compounds called polyphenols, which may also have a positive impact.

  1.  Avocado: 

Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fats and fiber, the two nutrients that help lower “bad” LDL and raise “good” HDL cholesterol. Clinical studies concluded that eating one avocado a day as part of a moderate cholesterol-lowering diet can improve the lowering of LDL cholesterol without lowering HDL cholesterol. One cup or 150 g of avocado contains 14.7 g of monounsaturated fats, which can reduce LDL cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease and strokes.

  1. Fish: 

Omega-3 fats, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are essential polyunsaturated fats found in fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, with well-documented anti-inflammatory and heart health benefits. Fish is a major part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been extensively studied for its benefits on heart health by increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering inflammation and stroke risk. EPA can help protect the blood vessels and heart from disease by lowering levels of triglycerides, a fat that enters the bloodstream after a meal. 

  1. Oats: 

Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol. Eating oats may lower total cholesterol by 5% and “bad” LDL cholesterol by 7%. Oats significantly improved blood cholesterol levels over a period of 4 weeks in a small 2017 study. Participants with mildly elevated cholesterol levels ate 70 g of oats per day in the form of porridge. This provided them with 3 g of soluble fiber per day, the amount that is needed to lower cholesterol. LDL cholesterol levels fell by 11.6% in 28 days. Other research also confirms that the soluble fiber in oats lowers LDL cholesterol levels. 

  1. Barley: 

 Barley is a healthy grain that is rich in vitamins and minerals and high in beta-glucan fiber and can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. The studies in 2018 and 2020 showed that beta-glucan reduces LDL cholesterol by trapping bile acids and limiting how much cholesterol the body absorbs during digestion. The body uses cholesterol to produce bile acids, replacing those that are trapped, which leads to an overall reduction in cholesterol levels. The beta-glucan also has a positive effect on the gut microbiome and blood glucose control.

  1. Nuts: 

Nuts are a good source of monounsaturated fats, which can help lower LDL cholesterol levels, especially when they replace saturated fats in the diet. Nuts are also rich in fiber, which helps keep the body from absorbing cholesterol and promotes its excretion. All nuts are suitable for a heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering diet, including almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and cashews. Walnuts are also rich in the plant variety of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat associated with heart health.

Almonds and other nuts are particularly rich in L-arginine, an amino acid that helps your body make nitric oxide. This, in turn, helps regulate blood pressure. Nuts provide phytosterols. These plant compounds are structurally similar to cholesterol and help lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption in your intestines. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium, also found in nuts, may reduce blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease.

  1. Soy: 

Soybeans and soy products, such as tofu, soy milk, and soy yogurt, are suitable for a cholesterol-lowering diet. In a study (46 participants) in 2019, it was found that a minimum intake of 25 g of soy protein per day over 6 weeks lowered LDL cholesterol by a clinically significant 4.76 milligrams per deciliter. Overall, the researchers concluded that soy protein can reduce LDL cholesterol by around 3–4% in adults, cementing its place in a heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering diet.

  1. Dark chocolate: 

Cocoa, which can be found in dark chocolate, contains flavonoids, a group of compounds in many fruits and vegetables. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can benefit when taken in a moderate way (due to their high in saturated fats and sugar). A trial in 2019 showed a positive effect on LDL cholesterol and also reduces blood pressure. Cocoa and dark chocolate seem to protect the “bad” LDL cholesterol in our blood from oxidation, which is a key cause of heart disease. Due to high sugar and saturated fats, always use cocoa alone or choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 75–85% or higher.

  1. Legumes and Lentils: 

These contain a lot of fiber, minerals, and protein. A review of 26 randomized controlled studies showed that eating a 1/2 cup (100 grams) of legumes per day is effective at lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol by an average of 6.6 mg/dl, compared to not eating legumes. Lentils contain 3.3 g per 100-g portion of fiber that can prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol into the bloodstream. Studies showed that after 8 weeks of eating 60 g of lentil sprouts per day, HDL levels improved, and LDL and triglyceride levels decreased.

  1. Garlic: 

Researchers have found that garlic can help regulate blood cholesterol levels. It contains various powerful plant compounds, including allicin, its main active compound. But it would be difficult to include enough garlic in the diet to have a noticeable effect on cholesterol levels. Therefore, a good quality supplement has been recommended.

  1. Green tea: 

Antioxidants called catechins in certain teas, such as green tea can be very beneficial to health. A pilot study in 2020 found that green tea consumption significantly improved cholesterol levels reducing both total and LDL cholesterol levels without lowering HDL cholesterol levels. 

  1. Extra virgin olive oil: 

Extra virgin olive oil features regularly in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. One of its many uses is as a cooking oil. Substituting saturated fat, found in butter, with monounsaturated fat, found in extra virgin olive oil, might help reduce LDL levels. It is also a source of polyphenols, some of which reduce the inflammation that can prevent heart disease.

  1. Dark Leafy Greens:

Dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, contain lutein and other carotenoids, which are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.  These may help lower cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids and making our body excrete more cholesterol. One study suggested that lutein lowers levels of oxidized “bad” LDL cholesterol and could help prevent cholesterol from binding to artery walls.

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