A Guide to Seven Cholesterol-Busting Foods
Learn how to manage your cholesterol level through your diet.
The type of food you consume has a direct impact on the cholesterol flowing in your blood. Dietary sources make up a quarter of the total cholesterol in your body. Moreover, the cholesterol synthesised in your liver also requires chemical precursors which are absorbed from food products. So, strictly speaking, food can influence your lipid profile enormously. If you are a health-conscious person, you will find it prudent to improve your lipid profile through nutrition. Some foods are naturally lower in bad cholesterol (LDL) or are rich in good cholesterol (HDL). They can help you to keep your total cholesterol within the normal range.
If you want to test your cholesterol levels, order one of our at-home tests here.
Unsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol saturated fats (also known as trans fats) are rich in bad cholesterol. So, it is wise to replace them with unsaturated fats. So, include unsaturated fats e.g., vegetable oils (sunflower oil, olive oil, rapeseed oil ), avocado, fish oil, seeds and nuts. Being rich in good cholesterol, they can help you to maintain overall cholesterol levels. Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are healthy for your heart as they help to lower total levels of cholesterol. Fish is beneficial as it not only has an LDL lowering fatty acid (omega 3 fatty acid) but it can act as a delicious substitute for red meat which is rich in LDL.
However some vegetable oils e.g., coconut oil and palm oil are rich in saturated fats and should be avoided.
- Go vegan and lower your cholesterol
The idea might not be so tempting, but the enormous wealth of vitamins, minerals, and fibres present in fruits and vegetables is too difficult to ignore. They not only fill your belly, but they also improve your health. As they have extremely low to no fats, they can help you to lower total cholesterol and body weight. The fibre present in most vegetables and fruits reduces the absorption of cholesterol from the intestines. Lentils, beans and pulses are rich in dietary fibre. So, it is wise to include a handsome amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
However, starchy vegetables and fruits e.g., potatoes, yams and rice would not be beneficial. This starch can readily be converted to fats by your body. So aim for low sugar and high fibre foods.
- Use value-added products
The cholesterol is absorbed through your small intestines. So, it is also a good strategy to eat foods containing more good cholesterols. They will reduce the absorption of bad cholesterol through the intestines. Various value-added products are prepared and marketed by food companies which have been supplemented with stanols and sterols. Both are cholesterol-like compounds and reduce the absorption of bad cholesterol.
- Barley and oats
Both of these grains have a hidden friend inside them. This is the fibre known as β-glucan. This β-glucan forms a gel inside the intestines and attaches to the bile acids present in your intestines which are rich in cholesterol. As they reduce cholesterol absorption through the intestines, the body (liver) will be forced to take cholesterols from the blood. In this way, the cholesterol in the blood is reduced. It is recommended by the physicians that the diet should be optimised to take at least 3-4g of β-glucan daily.
- Soya foods
The soya beans and their products are rich in vitamins and minerals and have lower saturated fats. It would be wise to add them to your plan of heart-friendly diets. They are among the best foods for decreasing blood cholesterol.
Nuts are also good for your heart. Various studies have pointed out that nuts e.g., peanuts, walnuts and almonds etc... are rich in the nutrients which protect the heart.
- Good news for tea lovers
Tea is our traditional drink. Some people are even habitual to the extent of being addicted. You might have noted that these tea addicts are usually not obese. This is also true for cholesterol. A publication by the journal of the American Heart Association has pointed out that taking at least a cup of tea daily can decrease the bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol contents.
A study on 80,000 tea lovers in china found that regular drinkers have a reduced age-related decrease in the HDL (good cholesterol) in the body. This decline was linked with an 8% decreased risk of heart attack and other cardiac diseases.
Both green tea and black tea are effective. Both are rich in the antioxidants catechins and polyphenols. Although coffee is naturally free of cholesterol, brewed coffees may have some bad cholesterol (LDL).
- Limit alcohol
Alcohol is a calorie-rich drink. Regularly taking alcohol can add extra weight to you and can shift the balance between HDL and LDL in the favour of HDL. Alcohol consumption can also increase your blood pressure and total triglycerides in the body. Ideally, a man should not take more than 2 alcohol-containing drinks daily while a female should not take more than 1 such drink.
- Dark chocolate - a possible cholesterol-lowering food
It might seem surprising, but research has supported that taking a little amount of cocoa and dark chocolate can benefit your heart. The flavonoids present in cocoa and dark chocolate has also been found to have a positive impact on heart health. Dark chocolate is more beneficial than milk chocolate. This has been highlighted by research that found that a reduction in LDH, total cholesterols and triglycerides was more in dark chocolate users than the milk chocolate users. However, chocolate is usually enriched with sugar. Sugar-enriched chocolate is not advised. As a general guideline, you should use the chocolate no more than a single serving and make sure that it should have 70% or higher contents of cocoa.
So, make a comprehensive nutritional plan and incorporate foods that would help you to lower your cholesterol. Lowering your cholesterol can improve your cardiac health and enhance your quality of life.
To test your cholesterol levels, order one of our at-home tests here.
Or to learn more about cholesterol, see our information page here.
To find out more about this topic, read High Cholesterol - Symptoms, Causes & Levels.
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