In this day and age, being healthy is one thing that many people want to achieve. Having low cholesterol is one of the best ways to achieve this.
What is cholesterol? Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the body that is essential in building cells. We get cholesterol from two sources. Our liver actually produces cholesterol, and we can also get it from the food that we eat.
As you can see, cholesterol is important in our body. The problem starts when there is too much of it as this can prove to be dangerous in the long run. HDL is what is considered the good cholesterol and makes us healthy, but LDL is the bad cholesterol. So what happens when you have high levels of LDL cholesterol? It causes the fatty deposits in your body to add up, resulting in an increased risk of heart disease.
The goods news is that it is easy to deal with high cholesterol. With a few simple changes, you can turn things around. One of the best ways to deal with high cholesterol is to change your way of eating. We have listed the foods that lower cholesterol below. But you must also know what foods you need to avoid so that you can take them out of your diet.
Aside from eating the best foods to eat for high cholesterol, you need to watch out and stop eating foods that are high in transfat. This will not only increase your LDL levels but also lower your HDL levels. Where can you find transfat? They are in baked foods like cookies, cakes, and frozen pizza. They are also found in many fried foods like fries and the like. These are sources of artificial trans fat and must be avoided. When you are shopping for ingredients, look out for the words “partially hydrogenated” as this means that the food you are buying has transfat in them.
Other foods that may have high transfat include fatty meats, coconut oil, butter, and full-fat dairy products.
Another thing you should strive to stay away from is eating too much sugar. A study has found out that people who consumed drinks that had high-fructose corn syrup in them saw an increase in their LDL cholesterol by as much as 17% in just a span of two weeks. Instead of these types of drinks, stick to water or tea instead.
Table of Contents
Best Foods for Those with High Cholesterol
- Beans and other legumes
- Fatty Fish
- Dark Chocolate
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
One of the easiest ways to lowering your cholesterol is to add oats to your meals. Actually, any whole grain is a great addition to your daily diet. But oats in particular are effective because they have beta-glucan.
Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber that can help to lower your cholesterol levels, by as. much as 7% of your LDL cholesterol levels. Every day, you need at least 20 grams of fiber, including around 10 grams of soluble fiber. A bowl of oatmeal will give you about 2 grams of fiber. You can increase that amount of fiber by adding some toppings like strawberries or even bananas.
If you are getting tired of oats, you can try other whole grains like barley, which is also a good choice because it is also high in beta-glucan.
Beans and other legumes
Another type of food that has a high content of soluble fiber is legumes, which include foods like beans and lentils. You can use legumes as an alternative for any refined grains or even proteins on your diet. Instead of using white rice, for example, you can go for beans instead.
They are the better option as they are more nutritious, containing lots of fiber and other minerals. Beans are also perfect for those who are aiming to lose weight, which is needed for those who want to have lower cholesterol. Our bodies take longer to digest beans, making you feel full longer compared to other refined grains. This will allow you not to have cravings and reach for that bag of chips before it is time for another meal.
They are very versatile and can also be prepared in lots of ways. They can be used as a side dish for your main meals, such as in this Sous Vide Mahi-Mahi with Squid Ink Bean Puree.
If you do have a snack craving, reach for nuts instead of fast foods. They contain the type of fats that your body needs such as monounsaturated fats. Some types, like walnuts, also contain omega-3 fatty acids and we all know that those have a lot of benefits for us.
Almonds are also good for snacking because it contains an amino acid that can help lower your body’s blood pressure levels. By eating around 2 ounces of nuts a day, you can lower your LDL but around 5%. It may not be much, but coupled with the other foods and by following the other tips we have listed below, it can already make a difference in your life.
You might think that you have to give up meat if you are aiming for lower cholesterol levels. The goods news is that although you may need to avoid red meat, you can still have your fatty fish like salmon and tuna at least three times a week.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in these types of fish can increase good cholesterol. Studies have shown that those who ate them lower their risk for stroke by as much as 27%. You can clearly see why it plays a big part in a Mediterranean diet, which is being suggested for many individuals who want lower cholesterol.
You might want to add soy products to your diet as having them daily can help lower your LDL by around 5%, If you do not like soybeans, go for tofu or use soymilk with your cereal instead. tofu, in particular, is a versatile ingredient. You can fry and use it in many Asian dishes like stir-fries. If you research more, some cultures actually use them in drinks and also dips.
When it comes to fruits with a lot of nutrients, avocados are one of the best sources. Not only are they good sources of fiber, but they also have a lot of monosaturated fats. Studies have shown that this two help to actually increase the good cholesterol in your blood, and lower the bad cholesterol or LDL.
You can eat avocados as is. But the good thing is that there are actually a lot of ways to eat avocados. You can add them to salads to add a creamy texture. You can have them as a spread for your toast. Of course, it’s very popular to use them for dips. You can also use them in desserts such as ice cream or gelato.
Many dishes use garlic although it has never been used as the main ingredient. Usually used as a spice in cooking, it has been around for thousands of years. Many cultures also use garlic for medicinal purposes. It is one of the best foods for lowering cholesterol. It also helps to lower blood pressure, therefore helping in lowering the risk of getting heart disease.
If you have a cough and colds, you can also use garlic to help relieve the symptoms that manifest. Meanwhile, some use this to help with athletic performance, as it seems to help with decreasing fatigue from exercise.
It is important to remember that you may not see the results right away if you choose to use garlic for its health benefits. The key is to be consistent in adding it to your daily meals. You can have something as simple as garlic soup or bake some garlic bread when you have time.
Go for a cup of black or white tea instead of coffee for your after-meal drink next time. They can help improve your blood pressure and even prevent inflammation in your body.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Another ingredient that is found in the Mediterranean diet is extra virgin olive oil, which can lower your risk for stroke or heart attack by as much as 30%. You can use them in a variety of cooking methods, from frying and even baking. They also make for great salad dressings.
Here’s something for those who like their sweets. You don’t have to give up dessert if you are looking to eat healthier, you just need to find good alternatives. Dark chocolate is full of cocoa and it has been proven that it can lower your bad cholesterol levels.
That’s not the only benefit that it can do. Consuming dark chocolate and cocoa can actually lower your blood pressure, therefore lowering your risk for heart disease. Because they contain flavanols, they may actually be beneficial for your skin, protecting it against sun damage and increasing your skin’s hydration.
But do understand that you cannot just consume any dark chocolate you want. Many varieties have too much sugar which is not good for you. For best results, go for those that have at least 75% cocoa content. If you are able to eat those with higher content, then that is even better.
Other Tips for Dealing with High Cholesterol
Aside from getting the best foods for high cholesterol, there are also some lifestyle changes you can make to help bring your cholesterol to better levels.
Keep a healthy weight
One of the most important things you can do is maintain a healthy weight. Check to see that you have a healthy BMI, and do the necessary steps to shed the extra pounds. Even losing weight as low as 10 or 20 pounds will already make a great difference to your health.
Aside from exercising, changing your way of eating will greatly help. Avoid not just eating processed meats but also those with a lot of animal fats. Stick to fish and vegetables and eat smaller portions than you normally would. Go for healthier snacks too, instead of the usual chips or fries.
Aside from changing your way of eating, exercise is very important in your quest to have healthier cholesterol levels. You should be exercising at least 30 minutes per day or even more if your aim is to lose weight.
There are many types of exercises you can try so that you will not get bored with the process. Aim for cardiovascular exercises, anywhere from walking to swimming or cycling are good choices. For those who are not used to exercising, start small. Go for a walk for 15 minutes every day and work your way up until you can endure longer times and more strenuous exercises.
There are so many increased health risks when you smoke. You may not only develop lung complications but even heart disease in the future. The reason for this is that tobacco tar may cause your arteries to become clogged faster. Studies have shown that those who smoke had increased levels of total cholesterol and higher LDL levels.
It may be hard especially if you have been a smoker for years. But think of the years that may be added to your life when you give up smoking. You are not only increasing your quality of life but also the people around you. Many people who inhale secondhand smoke are also at a higher risk for many diseases so you are also keeping them safe.
Regulate your alcohol consumption
Another vice that you might want to do in moderation is drinking alcohol. Do understand that for some cases, alcohol can actually be beneficial. If done in moderation, certain alcoholic drinks can actually increase your HDL levels and that is beneficial for your heart.
But if you drink too much, there will already be some risks for complications. it is usually the liver that gets damaged because of too much alcohol. Not to mention the fact that many people who drink too much alcohol become dependent on it and that significantly affects how they function in their everyday life.