10 foods that lower cholesterol: List by Harvard Health experts to beat LDL, lipids, triglycerides, save heart
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- Often, people realize too late that if only they had tweaked their diet, they could have saved their heart from damage.
- Due to what we eat to please our taste buds more than with our health in mind, there is an armada of fats floating through our bloodstream.
- Triglycerides, bad LDL cholesterol can lead to artery-clogging atherosclerosis that can cause cardiovascular damage.
We have all heard about the villain of heart health stories – the bad cholesterol. Some cholesterol is created by our body. The rest we add through what we eat.
Not all food contains cholesterol. In fact, some foods have the capacity to reduce the cholesterol content in our blood. Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol, says a Harvard Medical School post.
If you wish to make changes to your diet to acquire a correct HDL-LDL ratio such that your cardiovascular health stays unharmed, be sure to add the following 11 items to your food plan.
- Oats: Substitute a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast with a banana or some strawberries for another. This will give you nearly 3 grams of soluble dietary fiber. The primary type of soluble fiber in oats is beta-glucan (β-glucan), which has been researched to help slow digestion, increase satiety, and suppress appetite. Beta-glucan can bind with cholesterol-rich bile acids in the intestine and transport them through the digestive tract and eventually out of the body. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber.
- 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. Among whole grains, barley is one of the best sources of fiber. One cup of pearled barley has 6 grams of fiber and only 193 calories. You should also check out other high-fiber foods of the whole grains family such as quinoa, Kamut, or teff.
- Beans: If you want to keep hunger at bay for a longer time, beans should be on your diet plan. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. Since beans take a while for the body to digest, you feel full for longer after a meal, helping you in your efforts to lose weight. You can choose any variety from the beans family – navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond. Also, you won’t get bored as there are so many ways to cook this variety of food items.
- Eggplant and okra: Maybe you grew up calling them brinjal and ladyfinger or bhindi. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber. Most Indian households use them regularly to be served with roti and chappati, or in sambhar or stew. Sweet potato, aubergine, broccoli, and plums are also good options.
- Nuts: According to heartuk.co.uk, nuts are a good source of unsaturated fats and are lower in saturated fats, a mix that can help to keep your cholesterol in check. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5 per cent. Numerous studies have proven that nuts contain fiber which can help block some cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream from the gut, as well as protein, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, natural plant sterols and other plant nutrients which help keep your body healthy.
- Fruits: Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, avocados, papaya – these fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.
- Vegetable oils: Animal fats and oils contain cholesterol. In sharp contrast, canola oil, for example, which is derived from rapeseed contains the ‘good fats’ as opposed to other oils that are highly refined and processed. It also has no cholesterol and is, in fact, rich in vitamins like E and K. The Harvard article recommends the use of liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or at the table helps lower LDL.
- Soy: Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once touted as a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Analyzes show that the effect is more modest. According to Mayo Clinic, although eating soy-based foods can slightly reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol level, the American Heart Association has concluded that soy doesn’t significantly lower cholesterol. But it is a good idea to swap an animal-based diet for soy foods as the latter contains less saturated fat than meat does and also provides other beneficial nutrients, such as good fats (monounsaturated fats), vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- Fatty fish: According to Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, the strongest evidence for a beneficial effect of omega-3 fats has to do with heart disease. These fats appear to help the heartbeat at a steady clip and not veer into a dangerous or potentially fatal erratic rhythm. The report says that Omega-3 fats also lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve blood vessel function, and, at higher doses, lower triglycerides and may ease inflammation, which plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis.
- Fiber supplements: According to Harvard Health Publishing report, supplements offer the least appealing way to get soluble fiber. Two teaspoons a day of psyllium, which is found in bulk-forming laxatives, provide about 4 grams of soluble fiber. But for those who find it difficult to gain it from foods naturally, this is a good option.
Additional tips to beat cholesterol:
Keep switching between the above options. Eat a wide variety of low-cholesterol food over a period of time. A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. You can continue with the statin pill that the doctor has recommended. But shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet is a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.
Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, eyesight and mental health.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.