Foods that lower cholesterol

Feb 7 by

Foods that lower cholesterol

When you set out to eat a heart-healthy diet, the information that you receive can seem discouraging. The message that comes across is: if it tastes good, it is bad for me. Thankfully that is not always true. In fact, there are several foods that lower cholesterol levels, especially “bad cholesterol” while increasing the cholesterol that is good for the heart and blood vessels.

The foods and food groups may surprise you and may taste a bit better than you think! Oh, don’t forget also that vitamin D, especially when it’s produced by the action of sunlight on your body, is also considered to be pretty good too. You can get vitamin D in your food, but not everyone gets enough, especially in less sunny countries.

 

 

Olive oil
Olive oil tastes great and can help your heart when used in moderation. Olive oil is good for the heart in a couple of important ways. First it is a food that lowers cholesterol levels, specifically “bad cholesterol or LDL. Since olive oil is relatively high in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats it is very healthy oil choice. Not only that but a less refined or processed olive oil (such as extra virgin) is full of antioxidants that help protect the heart and blood vessels. Use olive oil in place of butter or animal fat in cooking to lower cholesterol.

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Fish and omega-3 fatty acids
It may seem counterintuitive but eating certain fats can actually improve your cholesterol numbers. Fatty fish like tuna and salmon have very high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and can lower “bad cholesterol” levels. These fatty acids also help to bring down high blood pressure and reduce the incidence of dangerous blood clots. Doctors recommend getting about two servings of fish each week. If that is too much fish for you, omega-3 fatty acids are also found in canola oil or in supplement form.

Oatmeal and oat bran
Oatmeal is often mentioned in any discussion of foods that lower cholesterol. Pound for pound, it is one of the best cholesterol-lowering foods out there. But the way it helps lower cholesterol is because it contains a lot of soluble, dietary fiber. Dietary fiber acts like a sponge in your gut to absorb fats, cholesterol and harmful materials which then pass harmlessly through your digestive tract. Other sources of dietary fiber are beans, certain fruits, barley and prunes. Soluble fiber is also available as a pill or powder. As well as decreasing your risk of syndrome X, or metabolic syndrome, oats and bran may help to lower your risk from heart disease. The percentage decrease can be pretty substantial, up to about 20% or so.

 

Apples
Apples have a special soluble fiber, called pectin. What’s so good about pectin? Well, it helps your body to flush excess cholesterol away.

 

 

Nuts
Certain nuts have the power to lower cholesterol and walnuts and almonds are particularly good ones. In clinical studies, a handful of walnuts or almonds a day was shown to lower blood cholesterol within as little as four weeks. Other nuts may be able to do this as well. Scientists believe that nuts can lower cholesterol because they are high in unsaturated fats and can take the place of other, less healthy fats in our diet.

Foods that are fortified with plant sterols/stanols
Plant sterols and stanols are able to lower the level of “bad cholesterol” in the blood presumably by blocking the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol. Unfortunately it is difficult to get a lot of plant sterols from the diet directly (they are found in plant oils) so many companies are fortifying their food with these compounds. Foods that are now including plant sterols and stanols are margarine and orange juice among others, although margarine may not be all that good for you, because it usually contains hydrogenated fat.

Remember that everything is best in moderation and foods that lower cholesterol, especially fatty acids or nuts, are best for you when eaten in reasonable amounts.

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