It is important to take care of your cholesterol levels by eating good-fat foods to lower cholesterol naturally. The healthy fats help combat the effects of bad cholesterol which aids in weight management too.
Due to the fast paced lifestyle, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of physical activity – heart problems, hypertension, and high cholesterol have become a common feature. These were once seen in adults above the age of 50 years. But in recent years people as young as 28 years have a complaint of high cholesterol levels.
What is cholesterol?
is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in the cells of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and various substances that help in digestion of food.
Cholesterol travels through the blood in small packages. These packages are called lipoproteins and made of fat on the inside and protein on the outside.
There are two types of lipoproteins –
- LDL – low-density lipoproteins
This is also called bad cholesterol. High levels of LDL in the body can lead to a buildup of cholesterol in arteries which can cause serious heart problems.
- HDL – high-density lipoproteins
This is also called good cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of the body back to the liver. The liver then removes the cholesterol from the body.
It is recommended to have a healthy amount of LDL and HDL.
Image Source: the science of eating
Top 10 Foods to lower cholesterol naturally
If you want to lower cholesterol levels, then making a change in your breakfast choices will be greatly helpful. Oats
is one of the most popular breakfast dishes but sometimes get unnoticed.
Research shows that switching your breakfast choices with two servings of oats can lower LDL (bad cholesterol) by5.3% in just 6 weeks. Oats are rich in a cholesterol buster beta-glucan, a substance that absorbs LDL which is then excreted from your body. You can prepare an oats smoothie or mix them with skimmed milk. Add some fruits and nuts for a wholesome hearty breakfast.
2. Red Wine
When you have such a delicious way to save your heart, then how can someone refuse to it? Research has found that high fiber red grapes that are used to make red wine may help lower cholesterol levels.
Various studies from across the world have confirmed that red wine consumption raises levels of good cholesterol. Wine is rich in antioxidants that protect the heart from oxidative damage and decreases inflammation as well. Also if you are teetotaler then you can get the same benefits from drinking green tea
, grape juice, and various other fruits and vegetables.
Nuts are a great snacking option; they are full of omega-3 fatty acids
which are beneficial in protecting your cardiovascular health. Nuts have lots of protein, fiber, healthy mono-saturated fats, minerals, and antioxidants. Omega-3 fatty acids slow down the accumulation of plaque in arteries and prevent blood clots.
- Walnuts – Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids. People who ate walnuts regularly had an increase in their good cholesterol and a drop in their bad cholesterol by 10%.
- Almonds – Almonds are high in Vitamin E, a type of antioxidant. People who eat a handful of almonds a day can lower their LDL cholesterol by 4.4%.
- Pistachios – Adding pistachios to your diet is beneficial for your heart health. Eating pistachios lower LDL and reduces the risk of diabetes related heart problems.
- Peanuts – Including peanuts and peanut butter in your diet can reduce the risk of heart diseases. It also lowers the risk of diabetes.
A word of caution – Although nuts are heart healthy, they are also high in calories, so you want to eat them in limited amount only.
Image Source: Everyday Health
4. Salmon and fatty fish
Whenever we talk about heart health, omega-3 fatty acids need to be discussed. Omega-3 fatty acids are a boon for heart health and help reduce cholesterol levels in the body. They are healthy fats and are usually found in fatty fish. You can also take omega-3 supplements.
According to a research it was suggested that replacing saturated fats with omega-3 fatty acids sources like salmon, herrings etc. can raise good cholesterol by up to 4%.
Now that’s a really tasty way to keep your heart healthy. Chocolate is rich in antioxidants that help build HDL (good cholesterol) levels in the body. But it is important that you choose dark or bittersweet chocolate. Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate
has 3 times more antioxidants. It helps prevent blood platelets from sticking together and also helps in keeping arteries unclogged.
When you have a yummy creamy way to a healthy self, then why not choose it. Avocados are a rich source of heart-healthy MUFAs. These help raise HDL cholesterol and lower LDL levels in the body. It is recommended that you consume avocados only in moderation because they are high in calories and fats.Avocados also have cholesterol bashing beta-sitosterol, a plant based fat that reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food. Add them to salads, slice it over whole wheat toast, or just whip up a smoothie and get all the goodness of this delicious fruit.
Image Source: Wellbeing Secrets
Cannot stress enough on how good are beans for your heart health. Adding ½ cup of beans to soups will help you lower LDL cholesterol by up to 8%. They are a rich source of fiber which slows the rate and amount of absorption in foods.
Giving up butter seems to be an impossible task. But for your heart health, you need to take some firm decisions. Replacing butter with margarine will be highly beneficial. Consuming margarine that is high in polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats and low in trans fat is better than using butter.
Margarine is enriched with plant sterols and helps reduce cholesterol levels. Plant sterols are compounds that help reduce cholesterol absorption. They also decrease the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines.
Garlic is a herb is loved by many. But do you know that apart from adding a dash of flavor to your dish, it also helps reduce cholesterol levels? Garlic is known to be effective in preventing blood clots, reducing blood pressure, and protecting against infection.
Research also shows that garlic helps stop artery-clogging plaque in the early stages by preventing cholesterol particles from sticking to the artery walls. Eating 2 to 4 fresh garlic cloves a day will drastically reduce cholesterol levels.
10. Olive oil
Using olive oil
as a cooking medium will be beneficial for your heart. It is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) which help lower LDL levels. Use it to make salad dressings, grilling meat or veggies, or to marinate fish and chicken and relish the goodness of this golden elixir.
Some other foods that lower cholesterol naturally :
1. Apples, strawberries, grapes and citrus fruits
Apples, strawberries, grapes and other citrus fruits are effective in lowering the level of cholesterol in your body. Most citrus fruits are rich in a compound called pectin. Pectin is a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL (bad cholesterol).
Research shows that eating soybeans and soy related products have a moderate effect in lowering the levels of cholesterol. You can include soy milk and tofu in your diet. An analysis shows that consuming 25g of soy protein a day is helpful in lowering cholesterol levels by 5% to 6%.
Image Source: Harvard health publication
3. Barley and other whole grains
Just like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains are also effective in reducing cholesterol levels. This is mainly because of the soluble fiber that they have.
Yet another reason to listen to mom when she says to eat those green leafy vegetables! Spinach is high in lutein, a compound that helps guard against age related macular degeneration. Research also suggests that ½ cup lutein rich food lowers the risk of heart attacks by helping artery walls keep clogging causing cholesterol at bay.
Tea is rich in antioxidants, so sip it for good heart health. Drinking black tea or green tea without sugar can do a lot of good for your heart. There is a debate on about tea increasing good cholesterol levels or not. But indeed it is rich in antioxidants and will save your heart from oxidative stress.
Image Source: The Telegraph
4. Eggplant and okra
Eggplant and okra are two low-calorie vegetables that you must include in your diet. They are full of nutrients and will help in reducing cholesterol levels as well.
It is not just the food you eat that makes a difference, but all your lifestyle choices need to be assessed. Make sure you eat a balanced healthy diet, get proper sleep, and exercise regularly to keep your cholesterol levels under check. Get your cholesterol checked regularly and follow your doctor’s advice.