It’s important to pick cholesterol reducing foods if you are planning to lose weight and improve your heart health. High fiber cereals along with fresh fruits and vegetables are ideal for this.
Why are we talking about cholesterol reducing foods today? It’s because high cholesterol levels can lead to serious health issues like cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetics and high blood pressure.
Even then, cholesterol is not a bad thing. In fact, it is a naturally occurring substance and our own bodies produce about 75 percent of the cholesterol in our blood.
The other 25 percent comes from the foods we eat (cholesterol is only found in animal products).
The problem with cholesterol comes when it gets out of balance – that is when it can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke. But there is good news: it is something we can help control.
By engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, avoiding tobacco smoke and eating a heart-healthy diet, you can actually play an active role in lowering your cholesterol.
What affects your cholesterol levels
Harmful LDL creeps upward and protective HDL drifts downward largely because of diet and other lifestyle choices.
Genes play a role, too – some people are genetically programmed to respond more readily to what they eat — but genes aren’t something you can change. Here are two things you can:
1. Saturated Fats
Typical sources of saturated fat include animal products, such as red meat, whole-fat dairy products, and eggs, and also a few vegetable oils, such as palm oil, coconut oil, and cocoa butter.
Saturated fat can increase your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. But it has some benefits too – it lowers triglycerides and nudges up levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. The role of saturated fat in heart disease is currently under debate. For now, it is best to limit your intake of saturated-fat-rich foods.
2. Trans Fats
Trans fats are a byproduct of the chemical reaction that turns liquid vegetable oil into solid margarine or shortening and that prevents liquid vegetable oils from turning rancid.
These fats have no nutritional value – and we know for certain they are bad for heart health. Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels while reducing levels of HDL cholesterol.
Pick these cholesterol reducing foods
Your breakfast can be your saviour. An easy first step to improving your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram.
2. Barley and Other Whole Grains
Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.
Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That is one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight.
4. Eggplant and Okra
These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.
Eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.
6. Vegetable Oils
Studies suggest that using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, olive and sunflower oil helps lower LDL.
7. Apples, Grapes, Strawberries, Citrus Fruits
Rich in antioxidants, these fruits are a good source of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.
8. Foods Fortified with Sterols and Stanols
Sterols and stanols extracted from plants gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate.
They’re also available as supplements. Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.
Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once touted as a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Analyses show that the effect is more modest – consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.
10. Fatty Fish
Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats.
Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.
Follow up with weights and exercise
Being overweight and not exercising affect fats circulating in the bloodstream. Excess weight boosts harmful LDL, while inactivity depresses protective HDL. Losing weight if needed and exercising more reverse these trends.
So start including these cholesterol reducing foods in your diet today and see what they do for your health. Do let us know how much this article helped you in your fight against cholesterol.
Also, talk to our Possible Nutritionist today for in-depth understanding of fitness, health and nutrition. The first consultation will be on us! Click here to avail.