Top 10 foods that help you lower bad cholesterol

It is important to keep your cholesterol under control! Its presence in large quantities increases the risk of heart disease and especially strokes. Adopting healthy habits, such as a proper and balanced diet, but also maintaining an active lifestyle - will help prevent cholesterol levels from rising.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat in the blood that is naturally produced by your body. It is also found in some foods, such as eggs, offal (such as kidneys and liver) and shellfish. The human body needs cholesterol for it to function properly.

When you have high blood cholesterol levels (also called hyperlipidemia), they speed up the process of atherosclerosis. This is when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries, making them narrower, and over time, this can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Types of cholesterol

High cholesterol has no symptoms. You need blood tests to find out if it is present. Blood tests will indicate "good" and "bad" cholesterol levels in the blood.

Cholesterol is transported in the body by various "carriers" (also called lipoproteins). The two most common are:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: "bad" cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is "bad" because if you have too much, it gets blocked by the walls of the arteries;
  • Cholesterol with high density lipoprotein (HDL): "good" cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is "good" because it gets rid of "bad" cholesterol in the blood vessels.

Triglycerides are the most common form of fat in your body and store and transport fat in the blood. Any extra energy from foods that the body does not need is converted into triglycerides.

High cholesterol in the blood and the presence of triglycerides in the blood are a risk factor for heart disease.

How the cholesterol diet can help?

Consuming certain foods can help you improve your cholesterol and overall heart health.

The best way to start is to eat a wide variety of plant foods. These include:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • legumes
  • whole grains
  • nuts
  • seeds

Eating plant-based foods will help you get a range of nutrients, heart-healthy fats and fiber - all of which promote optimal heart health.

10 foods that lower bad cholesterol

Some foods can actively help lower cholesterol and all work in different ways. Try to include, as much as you can, healthy and beneficial foods in your diet.

1. Oat

Consumption of whole grain foods reduces the risk of heart disease. Oats are especially important because they are rich in a type of soluble fiber called "beta glucan". Beta glucan helps lower "bad" LDL cholesterol in the blood. (3g of beta-glucan daily, as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, can help lower cholesterol).

When you eat foods rich in beta glucan, it forms a gel that binds to cholesterol-rich bile acids in the gut. This helps to limit the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed from the gut into the blood. The liver needs to remove more cholesterol from the blood to make more bile, which also lowers blood cholesterol.

Tip: Flavored oat products often contain salt and / or sugar. Choose products that contain 100% oats (such as laminated oats) because they are closest to how they are found in nature.

Daily administration of 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber could help lower LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol that can build up in your arteries). Oat is not well absorbed by the intestine, so they bind to cholesterol in the blood and help eliminate it from the body. Oat is also a top source in terms of fiber content, delivering about 2 grams of soluble fiber per half cup cooked. Try to include it in breakfast in various combinations, and in this way you will have the optimal dose of fiber beneficial to your body.

2. Wild salmon

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that can help lower blood pressure. Eating salmon can improve your "good" HDL cholesterol, but it will not reduce your "bad" LDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps eliminate deposits on the walls of the arteries, preventing the formation of dangerous plaque. Specialists recommend eating fatty fish, such as salmon, at least twice a week, for heart-healthy benefits. Other fish that contain omega-3s, such as mackerel, tuna and sardines, can also help.

In general, fatty fish is a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fats. Try to eat two servings of fish a week. At least one of them should be oily.

3. Nuts

Nuts contain heart-healthy fats and fiber, which can help keep cholesterol under control. Regular consumption of nuts is linked to lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

Tip: we recommend eating a variety of nuts, as they contain different types of healthy fats. Choose nuts that are close to the way they are found in nature, because they contain more nutrients. Look for nuts that are not salty and unroasted.

Nuts are good sources of unsaturated fats and contain fiber that can help block cholesterol that is absorbed into the bloodstream in the gut. In addition, proteins (amino acid arginine), range of vitamins (A, B, C, E and P) and minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium, chlorine, phosphorus, sulfur, iron, copper, zinc and iodine), carotene, natural sterols and other nutrients will help you maintain a healthy and balanced body.

You can consume an average of 28-30g of nuts per day, from various varieties, which means around one hand (classic nuts, Macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews ...). Try to eat them instead of the normal snack or as part of a meal.

4. Green tea

Green tea contains many plant compounds that improve heart health.

While green tea receives quite a lot of attention, black tea and white tea also have similar properties and effects on health. Two of the beneficial compounds in tea are:

  • Catechins: help activate nitric oxide, which is important for healthy blood pressure. In addition, it helps prevent blood clots from forming.
  • Quercetin: may improve blood vessel function and reduce inflammation.

A Japanese study of more than 40,000 adults found that those who drank more than five cups of green tea a day were 26% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to people who drank tea in smaller quantities. Experts put this on the grounds that the herb is rich in catechins, which have been shown to inhibit the production of cholesterol and prevent it from being absorbed. Read more about green tea.

5. Beans

Legumes, such as beans in the first place, but also chickpeas and lentils are an excellent source of soluble fiber and protein. Eating beans instead of meat (animal protein) can help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol.

Tip: choose different types of beans to eat depending on which option you consider to be a quick and easy alternative. Wash beans, chickpeas or lentils well beforehand! Use them in salads, sauces and various dishes or make pasta from them, such as hummus.

Vegetables such as beans, chickpeas and lentils are particularly rich in fiber which helps reduce cholesterol levels in the body.

6. Dark chocolate (>75%)

Cacao is the main ingredient in dark chocolate.

It may sound too good to be true, but research is proving that dark chocolate and cocoa can lower "bad" LDL cholesterol.

In one study, healthy adults drank a cocoa drink twice a day for a month. They experienced a reduction in "bad" LDL cholesterol of 0.17 mmol / l (6.5 mg / dl). It also lowered blood pressure and raised “good” HDL cholesterol.

Cocoa and dark chocolate appear to protect "bad" LDL cholesterol in blood from oxidizing, which is a key cause of heart disease.
However, chocolate is often high in added sugar - which negatively affects heart health.
Therefore, you should use cocoa alone or choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 75-85% or higher.

7. Garlic

Garlic has been used for centuries as an ingredient in cooking and as a medicine.
It contains various potent plant compounds, including allicin, its main active compound.

Studies suggest that garlic lowers blood pressure in people with high levels and may help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol.

Because relatively large amounts of garlic are needed to achieve this heart-protective effect, many laboratory studies that have used garlic-based supplements have had results considered much more effective than other daily garlic preparations. Thus, regular consumption, but in small quantities, may not provide immediate results, but to ensure that you will notice the desired results when eating garlic, you must make sure that you include it in significant quantities in your daily meals. However, pay attention to the contraindications (read more about garlic).

8. Avocado

Due to fiber and monounsaturated fats, avocado could help lower total cholesterol by 18 points, LDL cholesterol by 16 points and triglycerides by 27 points, suggests an analysis of 10 studies.

The key is to use them instead of foods that contain less healthy fats, such as saturated fats. Think of avocado slices instead of mayonnaise on a sandwich or diced avocado, rather than cheese in a burrito bowl.

Who doesn't love avocados? Not only does it taste amazing, but it will also help lower your cholesterol. Avocado has a high content of healthy monounsaturated fats, which helps lower "bad" LDL cholesterol.

It also contains fiber, antioxidants and phytosterols, such as beta-sitosterol, which has also been shown to lower cholesterol. One serving is just a quarter of avocado, which provides 57 calories. Put a few slices of avocado in your salad or sandwich instead of other sauces or enjoy a full bowl of guacamole served with slices of toast.

9. Pears

Pears are soft, sweet and their strong load of natural fibers, mostly in the form of pectin, helps to lower LDL levels. Surprisingly, fresh pears contain even more pectin than apples. Pectin binds to cholesterol and removes it from the body before being absorbed. A medium-sized pear provides 16% of the recommended daily value for fiber. Other pectin-rich fruits include apples, bananas, oranges and peaches.

Try not to peal the pears, as it is edible and especially an additional source of fiber. Just wash them before eating them.

The aforementioned pectin is a type of soluble fiber that is found predominantly in the peel and pulp of fruits and is one of the reasons why specialists recommend eating fruit. While all fruits have pectin, pears are the ones that attract attention with a significant amount in their composition. An average pear has two grams of soluble fiber and four grams of total fiber.

10. Flax seed

Flax seeds are good sources of many nutrients. Their health benefits are mainly due to their content of omega-3 fats, lignans and fiber.

In a study of people with high cholesterol, consuming 3 tablespoons (30 grams) of flax seeds daily for three months reduced total cholesterol by 17% and "bad" LDL cholesterol by almost 20%.

Flax seeds are easy to incorporate into pastries, as well as added to the cereals you eat in the morning, in addition to oatmeal or add a few flax seeds to your daily smoothies.

Flax seeds are one of the best sources of plant lignans, a unique type of fiber that is not widespread in food, as well as bioactive polyphenols and an omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Ground flax seeds and also flax seed oil offer the greatest health benefits.

Other foods that help lower bad cholesterol

  • Brussels sprouts
  • Edamame
  • Green peas
  • Raspberry
  • Yogurt and milk
  • Blueberries
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Eggs
  • Sesame

Conclusion

There is no single food that will help lower your cholesterol and it is important to focus on the quality of your overall diet. Moreover, lifestyle, stress levels, but also daily physical activity - can influence more than you think the level of cholesterol in the body.

A diet rich in plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds will help you manage your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Pay attention to the diet you approach, because it can influence more than you think the level of cholesterol present in your body! Try to reduce as much as possible the daily level of stress and find solutions or solutions for each situation that generates such conditions in your life.



Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

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