If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, your doctor will most likely advise you to start by changing your diet. Dietary changes can help lower cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol. Diet is going to be your first line of treatment.
High cholesterol is a condition that over time can lead to a number of health problems, such as heart attack or stroke. If low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often called “bad” cholesterol, gets too high, it can build up in the walls of your arteries and form plaque. If any of these plaques rupture, a blood clot can form, blocking blood flow and leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Diet is an important way to lower your cholesterol levels. A high LDL level is often the result of a diet high in saturated fat or trans fat.
Saturated fats are found in foods like:
– Whole milk dairy products.
Trans fats are frequently found in highly processed foods. The biggest impact on our cholesterol levels comes from replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat. Eliminating these foods from your diet is a good first step to improving your LDL levels.
The second step is to add foods that help lower your LDL levels. An important category is foods that contain heart-healthy fats, such as a number of oily fish, and vegetable fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.
Another important food group is soluble fiber, which is found in some fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Soluble fiber binds to bile, which contains cholesterol, and removes it from the body. A high fiber diet is effective in lowering cholesterol. In addition to containing soluble fiber, plant-based diets have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
While these changes may seem daunting, the incremental improvements can really add up, whether it’s reducing the amount of highly processed foods you eat or finding ways to add heart-healthy foods. It’s all about balance. It is not necessary to eat perfectly to have optimal cholesterol levels.
Here are eight foods that can help lower your cholesterol
Adding beans to your diet is fantastic for your health in several ways. The first is that beans are a good source of protein and can replace foods that contain high amounts of saturated fat. Beans are a good substitute for meat. The second is that beans are high in soluble fiber, which can help lower LDL levels. Include more beans in your diet by adding them to soups, salads.
Nuts are an excellent source of protein, unsaturated fats and soluble fiber. When used as a replacement for animal products that contain saturated fat, they discourage high LDL cholesterol levels, while their soluble fiber may help lower LDL. There is also evidence that nuts can reduce your risk of heart disease. Nuts are very energy dense, so you should limit your serving to around 30 grams and make sure the brand you choose is low in added sugars and salts. You can incorporate them into your diet as a handful as a snack or sprinkle them on a salad.
Vegetable oils, in general, are a good source of heart-healthy fats, as long as they are liquid at room temperature. Olive oil, in particular, is a very good oil for the heart, which can replace unhealthy fats and promote good cardiovascular health. In a recent study, published in the November 2021 issue of the journal Stroke, participants who followed a Mediterranean diet high in extra-virgin olive oil had a slower progression of plaque formation than participants who followed a diet. low in fat. Add olive oil to your diet by using it in place of butter on your bread, use it in salad dressings, and use it for sautéing, frying, and roasting.
Seeds are often overlooked as a source of heart-healthy fats, and they’re also high in soluble fiber. The seeds do double duty because not only do they have the fiber, but they also have unsaturated fats. Examples are chia, flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Examples of ways to incorporate them into your diet include adding ground flaxseed to a bowl of oatmeal, or snacking on roasted pumpkin seeds.
Apples are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps lower your LDL levels. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that study participants who ate 550 grams of apples daily had lower cholesterol levels at the end of the study. This effect was not seen in study participants who drank clear apple juice, which had the fiber removed. Since the fiber is mostly found in the skin of apples, it’s best to save the skin. To add apples, you can eat them whole as a snack, cut them into slices, or make applesauce without the peel.
Anything with avocado has a very good ratio of monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fats. While both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are great at lowering your cholesterol, too much polyunsaturated fat can also lower your good cholesterol. What you need to aim for is a balance between the two types of unsaturated fats, which you can do by making sure your diet includes a variety of heart-healthy fats. To consume more avocado, you can use avocado oil for cooking or add the fruit to your salads.
Eating fatty fish, such as anchovies, cod, mackerel, or salmon, can lower your cholesterol levels in several ways. First, fatty fish can be used as a substitute for other protein sources that are high in saturated fat. Next, fatty fish contain a good mix of unsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
If you’re a regular coffee drinker who needs to watch your cholesterol, it’s good to be careful about the types of coffee you drink. Unfiltered coffee, like espresso, contains fatty compounds called terpenes that can raise cholesterol levels. If you regularly drink espresso, it is a good idea to replace it with filtered coffee, such as drip coffee.