5 Foods to Help Lower Your Cholesterol
Many patients often ask their doctors if there are any foods that can help with reducing high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This so-called “bad” cholesterol can cause artery-clogging plaque to form in your coronary artery walls, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC said: “Heart disease is number one killer for people. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths..”
1. Cut the Animal Fat in Your Diet and Add LDL-Lowering Foods
Too much LDL is the result of a diet rich in saturated fats (usually from animal foods such as beef, butter, lard, and whole-milk dairy products) and trans fats (found in processed and fast foods). If you eliminate these food from your diet, is a good first step in improving your LDL. Then try adding some or all of the following LDL-lowering foods.
If you’re already on a statin, dietary changes may help you reduce your dosage, but before you reduce or stop taking a statin drug or any other heart drug, you should first consult with your doctor.
2. Beans: Healthy Pintos and Garbanzos Stand Out
All types of beans like pinto, red, white, navy, black, garbanzo, lima, and lentil are excellent sources of soluble fiber. Fiber binds to cholesterol-laden bile salts in the small intestine and promotes their excretion along with waste. When this happens, the liver must use more cholesterol to produce more bile salts, therefore lowering the amount of cholesterol in the body available to make LDL.
Eating as little as 1/2 cup of cooked beans per day can lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol significantly, noted a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in June 2007. Pinto beans are a great example of a cholesterol-lowering bean.
3. Apples: Fiber and Antioxidant Rich
Apples are an excellent source of LDL-lowering soluble fiber, primarily pectin. Recent research published in the European Journal of Nutrition also shows that eating an apple a day or better yet two, can slow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, thanks to antioxidant polyphenols found primarily in apple skin, so don’t peel them. Antioxidants are very important because, inflammation and plaque build-up in the arteries are more likely to occur when LDL cholesterol interacts with free radicals and becomes oxidized.
4. Nuts and Seeds: Protein Plus Good Fat
Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds are all excellent sources of protein, heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Nuts and seeds help lower LDL cholesterol (and total cholesterol) without affecting levels of good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. It’s good to know that by adding nuts in your diet, cut your heart disease risk. Since nuts and seeds are calorie-dense, you’ll need to limit your daily intake to about 1 ounce (1/4 cup), but make sure the nuts aren’t salted or coated with sugar.
5. Oats and Oat Bran: Just a Little Every Day
Oats and oat bran are full with beta-glucan, a water-soluble fiber that helps reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol circulating in the blood. Analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in December 2014 found that a daily intake of at least 3gr. – 1/4 cup of oat beta-glucan or 1½ cups of cooked steel-cut oatmeal reduces total cholesterol and cuts LDL cholesterol levels.