What you eat has a great impact on your health. So it is important to make good food choices. By changing your diet and eating more of certain organic foods, you can naturally lower your cholesterol and minimize the risk of heart disease.
Research has shown that a diet that includes a daily intake of fish, soya based products, nuts, oats, and plant stanol or sterol based food is very effective in lowering cholesterol levels. It is as effective, in fact, as taking cholesterol drugs, and certainly a preferable and less expensive option, with little or no chances of negative side effects. Of course, if you have any special health concerns, it is important that you consult your doctor before you embark on the low cholesterol diet. You may have to check and ensure that the low cholesterol foods are okay with any drugs that are currently prescribed to you.
Various Foods that Lower Cholesterol
Fish has always been considered excellent for the heart. It is rich in proteins and in omega-3 fatty acids which are known to lower triglycerides and lessen plaque growth in arteries. Eating fish helps in lowering bad LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and raising the level of good HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Cold water fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, trout, sardine, herring, etc., are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids and are recommended for daily eating. However, it is significant to note that the way you cook the fish plays a big part in what health benefits you can derive from eating it.
For example, deep frying the fish in oil is not going to do you any good, while grilling, broiling, steaming or microwaving the fish will be more beneficial. And again, remember, you should eat fish only in moderation - it has high fat content and if you eat too much of it, you may have to contend with weight problems. If you are allergic to fish or just don't like eating it or are worried about possible contamination, you can get your daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids by way of eggs, flaxseed, walnuts and so on.
Oats provides you with soluble fiber which is helpful in reducing LDL cholesterol. Food containing oat bran, oatmeal, and whole oat flour are very healthy and filling. Hot oatmeal porridge and cold oat bran cereal have been traditionally eaten for breakfast, but you can also add ground oatmeal to soups, casseroles, and baked foods.
Foods High in Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber can help to keep cholesterol levels low (as said above) when it is made a regular part of the diet as they adhere to the bile components and forbid their reabsorption. Some examples apart from oats are citrus fruits, apple pulp, barley, beans, peas, etc., that are rich in soluble fibers.
Now here's a junk food that's actually good for you. Nuts have lots of protein, fiber, vitamins, phytonutrients, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, plant sterols, nutrients, and antioxidants. They are also easy to eat - just shell them and pop a handful into your mouth, no lengthy preparations required. Or chop them into your soups, porridges, pastas, cereals, salads, yogurt, fruits and so on.
Eating a few almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and pine nuts every day will help in lowering LDL cholesterol levels. Walnuts, which are high on omega-3 fatty acids, are especially recommended.
Some other nuts like macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, and cashew nuts have a very high fat content and may not be as beneficial. Again eating in moderation is recommended.
Also watch out for the nuts that come salted, sugared, chocolate-covered, and so on. They're not good for you - unless you are looking to gain some extra calories. Otherwise stick to the original in the raw.
Soy is the favorite food of the health-conscious individuals these days. It is considered to be highly effective in lowering cholesterol levels, although there is some debate about that, of late. Some researchers claim that eating soy actually makes little or no difference to cholesterol levels. In any case, it is a good replacement for fat rich milk and meat products. Soy is made from soya beans. You can eat it as tofu, soy nuts, soy milk, tempeh, miso, soy flour, etc.
If you want to save on calories and at the same time, cut down on saturated fats, then avocado is a very good option. As per research, it comprises beta-sitosterol, which has the natural ability to lower bad cholesterol, thus making it an important health food. In fact, daily consumption of avocado will aid you in raising the everyday intake of monounsaturated fats.
People are of the belief that too much sunflower oil has bad consequences on the health and hence, assume the same about sunflower seeds. But this is untrue as research has proven that phytosterols present in sunflower seeds help to lower bad cholesterol levels, by decreasing their absorption (the exact mechanism still not being known), thus making it a healthy food option.
Foods with Plant Sterol or Stanol
People with high LDL cholesterol levels should try a diet of foods containing plant sterols or stanols. These natural plant substances prevent the absorption of cholesterol and are usually included in foods like spreads, salad dressings, orange juice, margarine, snack bars, etc.
Include black tea as a part of your diet, as research has shown that the ingredients in black tea have the ability to combat LDL levels. Also, black tea has the power to bring down the risk of coronary artery diseases according to the conclusions drawn from a large study.
You must keep in mind that while eating low cholesterol foods is certainly beneficial, it is not a cure for your existing problems and neither is it a complete preventive from any future health risks. Just because your diet includes fatty fish, it does not mean it is completely safe for you to eat a whole lot of high fat foods and forgo exercise entirely. Eating the above foods on a regular basis in moderation, in addition to doing enough exercise and taking rest, is the key to continued good health.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purpose only, and does not in any way attempt to replace the diagnosis of a doctor. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.