When you are trying to lower the high cholesterol levels, it might be confusing which food items should be consumed. The most dangerous element is fat. “Bad” saturated fat raises the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol which leads to the build-up of plaque in the arteries. “Good” unsaturated fat helps to raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which removes LDL Cholesterol and helps to keep the arteries clean.
Read on to know more:
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
One of the most important foods for a healthy heart is Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids that raise “good” HDL and lowers “bad” LDL Cholesterol. It is rich in polyphenols, which reduces the inflammation that causes heart disease. People who consumed olive had a 20% lower risk of heart attack and stroke as compared to the people who followed a low-fat diet.
Tea has many plant compounds that improvethe health of the heart. Green tea might be popular, but white tea and black tea have similar health effects and properties. The two beneficial compounds are Quercetin, which improves blood vessel function and lowers the inflammation; and Catechins which activate nitric oxide important for healthy blood pressure. They also help in cholesterol synthesis and help to prevent blood clots.
3. Soy Foods
Soybeans are beneficial for the health of the heart. These foods reduce “bad” LDL and total cholesterol and increases “good” HDL Cholesterol. Soy foods can reduce heart disease with people having high cholesterol.
4. Whole Grains- Barley and Oats
Whole grains reduce the risk of heart disease. Consuming three servings of whole grains daily reduces the risk of heart disease by 20%. Oats contain beta-glucan, a soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol. It lowers total cholesterol by 5% and “bad” LDL Cholesterol by 7%. Barley is also rich in beta-glucans which reduces “bad” LDL cholesterol.
5. Nuts- Walnuts and Almonds
Nuts are nutrient-dense food. They have a high amount of monounsaturated fats. Walnuts have Omega-3 fatty acids which are associated with heart health. Almonds are rich in an amino acid called L-arginine which helps the body to make nitric oxide which regulates blood pressure. These nuts provide phytosterols which lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption from intestines. Potassium, calcium, and magnesium found in these nuts reduce blood pressure and lowers the risk of heart disease.
Legumes, also known as pulses like peas, lentils, and beans, contain protein, minerals, and fiber which lowers the risk of heart disease. These help lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Avocados are nutrient-dense fruit. They are a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids that raise “good” HDL Cholesterol and lower “bad” LDL Cholesterol. Studies show that obese adults with high LDL Cholesterol who consumed one avocado everyday had a lowered LDL level as compared to those who didn’t eat avocados.
8. Fatty Fish
Fatty Fish like mackerel and salmon are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. This boosts heart health by increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering the risk of stroke. The healthiest way to consume a fish is by stewing or steaming. Frying the fish may increase the risk of heart disease.
9. Fruits and Berries
To keep your heart healthy, fruits must be included in your diet. Many fruits are rich in soluble fiber which lower the cholesterol levels. This encourages the body to get rid of cholesterol. Pectin, soluble fiber lowers the cholesterol by upto 10%. Fruits like strawberries and citrus fruits contain bio active compounds that prevent heart disease and other diseases due to their anti-inflammatory effects.
Garlic is used as an ingredient in cooking and also as a medicine. It contains allicin, a powerful plant compound. Studies have shown that garlic lowers the blood pressure in people having high cholesterol levels. It also lowers the total and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Vegetables are important to keep your heart healthy. They are rich in antioxidants and fiber, which is important for good weight. Some vegetables have pectin, a soluble fiber which lowers the cholesterol. Some pectin-rich vegetables include eggplants, potatoes, carrots, and okra. These vegetables also offer many health benefits, including protection against heart diseases.
12. Dark Leafy Greens
All vegetables are good for the heart, but dark leafy greens are beneficial. Leafy grains such as spinach and kale, contain carotenoids and lutein, which lower the risk of heart disease. Carotenoids help to get rid of harmful free radicals which lead to hardened arteries. These vegetables also lower cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids and making your body to excrete more cholesterol.
13. Dark chocolate and Cocoa
Cocoa is the main ingredient in dark chocolate. These two can lower the “bad” LDL Cholesterol. They protect the bad cholesterol in the blood from oxidation. So, choose dark chocolate with cocoa content of 75-85% or higher.
14. Vegetable Oils
Vegetable Oils such as sunflower, safflower, canola, and other oils instead of lard, butter, or shortening help lower “bad” LDL.
Even though spices help to give flavor food, they are also a good part of low cholesterol diet. Spices like red cayenne pepper, ginger, thyme oil, turmeric, and thyme oil stabilize fat in the cell membranes leading to low triglycerides.
Artichokes have the highest level of soluble fiber. This lowers the LDL levels and keeps the GI tract healthy. It also keeps the blood sugar levels balanced.
Flaxseeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids which improve the function of blood vessels, prevent arrhythmias, decrease inflammation, and lower triglyceride levels.
18. Red Grapefruit
Red Grapefruit lowers blood triglycerides. Studies show that people who ate a grapefruit for 30 days had their blood lipid levels decreased as compared to people who didn’t eat a grapefruit.
19. Plant Sterols and Plant Stanols
Plant sterols and plant stanols are plant-based chemicals found in yogurt drinks, orange juices, and margarine. Consumption of these food items reduces the cholesterol levels by 10% over three weeks.
Kimchi is a Korean fermented dish made from radish, cabbage, or cucumber. It is high in fiber, and since it is fermented, it has good bacteria that keep the gut healthy. It contains bio-active compounds that lower cholesterol by blocking cholesterol from being absorbed in the bloodstream.