Cholesterol Lowering Foods
15 foods to boost your good cholesterol
You’ve probably heard that HDL cholesterol=good and LDL cholesterol=bad. So if you’re trying to improve your heart health (or just keeping your heart in tip-top shape), you might be wondering what to eat to keep your HDL levels up.
Plenty of foods can help improve your cholesterol ratio and promote good heart health overall. Here’s a look at what you definitely want to be eating more of.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatlike substance found in your cells. Your liver makes most of your cholesterol and you get the rest from animal food sources like meat and dairy.
Some cholesterol is essential to helping your body function properly, but too-high levels of cholesterol in your blood can up your risk for heart problems.
Cholesterol moves through your blood on special proteins called lipoproteins. High density lipoprotein (HDL) is a helpful lipoprotein that mops up cholesterol in your blood and brings it back to your liver, where it can be flushed from your body.
That’s why HDL is of called “good” cholesterol. Having a lot of it is very important and heart-protective. The easiest way to increase your HDL is with exercise. LDL (low density protein) can build up in your blood leading to what your cardiologist terms high cholesterol. However with the gyms closed and reduced amount of exercise you may have to change your diet.
Eating the right foods and limiting your saturated fat intake can help lower your level of LDL. However it is easier to eat the foods that increase HDL and this high level does not allow HDL to accumulate but flushes it out of your body.
Normal cholesterol levels are HDL 1.1 and LDL 3.9 but your cardiologist would definitely say that is too high and try and put you on a statin drug. So let’s avoid the drugs and think about the 15 foods worth adding to your menu.
Oats are loaded with soluble fibre, which can help keep bad cholesterol from being absorbed into your blood stream. Some of that soluble fibre comes in the form of beta glucan, a type of fibre tied to lower LDL cholesterol.
Eating 3 grams of beta glucan daily has been shown to improve heart health—and you can get 50 per cent of that from ¾ cup of dry oats.
Beans and Legumes
Lentils, black beans and chickpeas are another great source of cholesterol-friendly fibre. In fact, a review of 26 studies found that just ½ cup daily will lower your LDL cholesterol significantly.
This should be used as your go-to for cooking. It is a principle component of the Mediterranean diet and it is packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Research has shown that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil can boost HDL levels very high thus getting rid of any excess HDL in your blood vessels.
This old cliché about an apple a day is really quite true. This crunchy fruit is a rich source of pectin, which can lower LDL cholesterol. Apples are also loaded with polyphenols. And according to a 2013 study, these polyphenols could help keep your arteries from becoming clogged or inflamed by stopping LDL cholesterol from oxidizing.
Fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring are brimming with omega-3 fats. These fats don’t directly raise HDL, but they can help lower your triglycerides, a type of unhealthy fat in your blood. They also improve your heart health by lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk for dangerous blood clots.
This very tasty fruit serves up plenty of monounsaturated fats and fibre, both of which are keys for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. One study found that adults with higher body weights who ate an avocado each day lowered their LDL cholesterol levels more than those who skipped the creamy green fruit. I have really learned to love this fruit and the many ways it can be prepared.
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries are full of anti-oxidant compounds like anthocyanins, phenolic acids, stilbenes, tannins and carotenoids, which are linked to lower inflammation and healthier cholesterol levels.
Nuts like walnuts are a good source of polyunsaturated fats-heart-healthy fats that play a key role in improving your total cholesterol ratio and lowering your LDL cholesterol. So if you’re not a fan of fish, walnuts also are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Like avocado and olive oil, almonds (and other tree nuts) are a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that can improve your total cholesterol ratio. They’re also high in phytosterols, plant compounds that are structurally similar to cholesterol and help block cholesterol from being absorbed in your gut. Whole almonds and almond butter are great. I like to use almond flour instead of regular flour; way more healthy and great taste if preparing fish.
This chewy whole grain is another way to get your fill of beta glucan, the soluble fibre that can lower your LDL cholesterol. Try it as an alternative to oats for hearty breakfast porridge, throw it into a salad or use it to give extra body to bean and veggie soups.
These juicy little fruits pack a one-two punch for heart health. They contain anti-oxidant compounds and the heart-healthy fibre pectin, which help bring HDL cholesterol up and LDL cholesterol down
Cocoa and dark chocolate
Both cocoa and dark chocolate contain compounds that can lower bad cholesterol. It seems that both foods can prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing which can up the risk for heart disease. However you must eat them in a healthy context. Instead of guzzling a sugary hot chocolate with whipped cream, stir cocoa powder into your morning oatmeal or yogurt. If you choose dark chocolate make sure the cocoa is at least 75 per cent and try not to eat more than one ounce daily.
According to a recent review of 46 studies, eating about 25 grams of soy protein per day can lower LDL cholesterol levels by three to four per cent. You must be careful to choose minimally processed soy products—choose tofu, tempeh or miso over packaged soy burgers or deli slices. If you like soy milk make sure you pick one that is unsweetened.
You already knew that kale was a superfood but here’s one more reason it’s worth adding to your shopping list: Dark leafies can bind to bile acids, which could help your body flush out more bad cholesterol and give you an excellent HDL-to LDL ratio. This benefit might come from lutein, an antioxidant that’s been shown to prevent cholesterol from sticking to artery and capillary walls especially those around your eyes.
It’s loaded with catechins, a family of antioxidants that have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol and overall cholesterol concentration. And the more you drink, the greater the benefit seems to be. A large long term study found that adults who sipped five cups of green tea daily were 26 per cent less likely than non-tea drinkers to die of a heart attack or stroke.
Finally, if you cannot eat any of the products on my top 15 list, most of them are available in supplement form. So do your best to add most of the above to your diet, but take a supplement when you have to. That way you insure your good health. [print_link]