10 Cholesterol-Lowering Foods for a Healthy Heart

Contributed by: Nancy Dixit

Introduction

Before starting with cholesterol-lowering foods, let’s start with a basic understanding of cholesterol and its effects on our body.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is basically a waxy substance found naturally in our blood. The liver makes most of the cholesterol in your body. The rest comes from the food you eat.

Our bodies need cholesterol to build healthy cells, but high cholesterol levels can also increase risk heart disease.

Cholesterol is available in two forms, namely:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)

This is the “bad,” unhealthy cholesterol. LDL cholesterol can build up in your arteries and form fatty, waxy deposits called plaque.

  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL)

This is the “good,” healthy kind of cholesterol. It transports excess cholesterol from your arteries to your liver, which removes it from your body.

There is good evidence that following a heart-healthy diet can improve your blood cholesterol and heart health. Different foods lower cholesterol in different ways.

Some provide soluble fiber, which binds to cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive tract and pulls them out of the body before they enter the circulation.

Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL.

And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol.

In the article, we will discuss some foods that are delicious and easy to include in your daily diet without sacrificing taste or fun.

Oats

Oats are a well-known cholesterol-lowering superfood. The soluble fiber present in oats lowers LDL cholesterol levels and may improve cardiovascular risk as part of a heart-healthy diet.

A person can add oats to their diet by eating porridge or oat-based cereal for breakfast, which helps lower your cholesterol levels. You can also add a banana or strawberry to enhance its taste.

Barley and other whole grains

Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains may help reduce the risk of heart disease, mainly through the soluble fiber they provide.

Barley is a healthy grain that is rich in vitamins and minerals and fiber.

Beta-glucan, a type of soluble dietary fiber found in barley as well as oats, helps lower LDL cholesterol.

Avocados

Avocados are incredibly rich in heart-healthy nutrients. Avocados may help lower cholesterol levels in some people.

According to research, when eaten regularly, it can improve the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially by lowering LDL cholesterol without lowering HDL cholesterol.

Nuts – Almonds and walnuts

Almonds are another exceptionally nutrient-dense food. Almonds are rich in fiber, which helps prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol and promotes its excretion.

Almonds and other nuts are especially rich in L-arginine, an amino acid that helps your body produce nitric oxide. This, in turn, helps regulate blood pressure.

In addition, almonds provide phytosterols. These plant compounds are structurally similar to cholesterol and help lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption in your intestines.

soy

Soybeans and soy products, such as tofu, soy milk and soy yogurt, are suitable for cholesterol-lowering diets.

It has been shown that regular consumption of soy products can help lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Also, it reduces the risk factors of heart disease, especially in people with high cholesterol.

Choose soy products that are close to how they are found in nature, such as soybeans, plain unsweetened soy milk, and unflavored tofu.

Legumes and beans

Beans, peas and lentils can help lower “bad” LDL levels and are a good source of plant-based protein.

They work by preventing some cholesterol from being absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream.

Legumes are rich in fiber, minerals and protein. Replacing some refined grains and processed meats in your diet may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Wash and drain the salty brine before using the stalks. Use them in salads, sauces, casseroles, and when making legume-based dips like hummus.

Dark chocolate and cocoa

Flavonoids in dark chocolate and cocoa can help raise “good” HDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.

According to research, dark chocolate and cocoa can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Cocoa and dark chocolate appear to protect your blood’s “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidation, a key cause of heart disease.

However, chocolate often contains excess sugar that negatively affects heart health. Therefore, you should use cocoa alone or choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 75 to 85% or more.

garlic

People can use garlic in various dishes and it has many health benefits.

Allicin and other plant compounds in garlic may help lower LDL cholesterol and reduce other heart disease risk factors.

According to research, garlic lowers blood pressure in people with high levels and can help lower total and “bad” LDL cholesterol.

vegetable oil

Vegetable oils are often labeled “heart-healthy” and recommended as alternatives to sources of saturated fat, such as butter, lard, and tallow.

Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking helps lower LDL.

Eggplant and okra

These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.

Okra, or lady’s finger, is a warm-season vegetable. It helps in reducing cholesterol during digestion. It helps cholesterol to pass out of the body through the stool.

Eggplant is rich in dietary fiber which helps in improving blood cholesterol levels.

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Last thought

High levels of circulating cholesterol can lead to higher health risks.

To stay healthy, most people need to limit or lower their LDL levels and increase their HDL levels.

There is no single food that will help lower your cholesterol and it is important to focus on the quality of your overall diet.

Here we have mentioned some of the best, easiest and most popular cholesterol-lowering foods that you can try.

However, there may be a possibility that you are allergic to any food or you may have an undiagnosed medical condition that could be worsened by any of these foods.

In such a situation, you can also choose genetic testing, which is a state-of-the-art predictive health tool to ascertain your propensity for certain foods; It can have a positive or negative effect depending on the individual.

Also, frequent preventive health check-ups are recommended to monitor overall health, especially your cholesterol levels.

Check your cholesterol levels today!

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