announcement

Share diet and nutrition tips in the Stories format.

Food to Eat to Lower Cholesterol

Food to Eat to Lower Cholesterol

Elevated cholesterol levels could make one susceptible to heart disease, which is why it is essential to follow a diet that is rich in food items that are known to lower cholesterol. This NutriNeat write-up provides information on such food items.
Marian K
Last Updated: Mar 21, 2018
dry fruit
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in the human body. It cannot dissolve in blood, and is transported through the bloodstream by lipoproteins. It is carried to and from the cells by lipoproteins called high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Total serum cholesterol includes HDL, LDL, and about 20% of the triglyceride level. A total cholesterol score of less than 180 mg/dL is considered to be normal. LDL (bad) cholesterol is the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries, while HDL (good) cholesterol prevents cholesterol from building up in the arteries.
A high triglyceride level coupled with high LDL and low HDL levels is associated with atherosclerosis, which refers to the buildup of fatty deposits in walls of the arteries. Excess cholesterol gets accumulated in the arteries, thereby causing them to get constricted. Arteries can also get blocked, which in turn could reduce or stop the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart. This makes one susceptible to heart attack or stroke. So, if your blood tests reveal high cholesterol levels, you should soon make changes to your diet. For better health, you need to lower your LDL and raise your HDL. This can be achieved by following a healthy diet. The following sections provide a list of foods to eat to lower your cholesterol to the normal range.
Foods Rich in Fiber
Most food items that are rich in fiber help reduce cholesterol. Oatmeal and oat bran are sources of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps in slowing down digestion by attracting water and forming a gel. It also interferes in the absorption of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the intestine. Thus, consumption of food items that are rich in soluble fiber can help in keeping cholesterol levels in the normal range. The sources of dietary fiber include:
Lentils
Apples
Oranges
Pears
Prunes
Barley
Strawberries
Nuts
Flaxseeds
Beans
Dried peas
Blueberries
Psyllium
Cucumbers
Celery
Carrots
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of dietary fiber for males and females is 38 and 25 grams, respectively. The consumption of at least ten grams or more of soluble fiber per day is recommended. Adding a banana to 1½ cup of cooked oatmeal can provide you with about 10 grams of fiber.
Nuts
According to the Food and Drug Administration of the United States, some studies suggest that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. These include:
Almonds
Hazelnuts
Peanuts
Pecans
Pine nuts
Pistachio
Walnuts
It is believed that these nits help keep the blood vessels healthy and elastic. However, have them in small amounts, as nuts are high in calories. It's advisable to consume plain nuts, and not fried or salted nuts.
Food Items that are Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There's no denying the fact that omega-3 fatty acids promote the healthy functioning of the human body. Basically, omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that have a beneficial effect on the heart, when consumed in moderation. These are placed in the category of healthy fats, unlike trans fats and saturated fats. Some types of fish are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These include:
Salmon
Mackerel
Lake trout
Herring
Sardines
Albacore tuna
For people seeking to lower their cholesterol level, about two servings of fish per week is recommended. The healthiest way to eat fish is grilled or baked.
For those who don't like to eat fish, omega-3 or fish oil supplements are available. However, all the goodness is not harnessed in these little capsules, and you would end up losing out on other fish nutrients like selenium. Ensure that you don't have more than the recommended amount of the supplements. Another source of omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseed, walnuts, and hazelnuts.
Cooking Oils with Monounsaturated/Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
If you wish to lower your cholesterol levels, you must use the right type of cooking oil. It is essential to substitute trans fats and saturated fats with monounsaturated/polyunsaturated fatty acids. The following cooking oils are good sources of monounsaturated/polyunsaturated fatty acids:
Olive oil
Canola oil
Corn oil
Cottonseed oil
Safflower oil
Flaxseed oil
Sunflower oil
It must be noted that these oils can be good substitutes for butter and margarine, but even these need to be used in moderation.
Foods Containing Plant Sterols or Stanols
Sterols or stanols are phytonutrients which are structurally similar to cholesterol. They compete with cholesterol, and prevent it from getting absorbed. When less cholesterol and bile is absorbed into the body from the intestine, cholesterol has to be removed from circulation for making bile. This lowers blood cholesterol levels. Plant sterols and stanols are present in small amounts in the following:
Grains
Vegetables
Fruits
Legumes
Nuts
Seeds
The American Heart Association recommends foods fortified with plant sterols for people with levels of LDL cholesterol over 160 milligrams per deciliter (4.1 mmol/L). Due to their cholesterol-lowering properties, food items fortified with stanols or sterols are now readily available. These include:
Margarine spreads
Orange juice
Cereals
Granola bars
Studies have shown that the consumption of these food items can help reduce LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent. For good results, daily consumption needs to be at least 2 grams, which translates to about two 8-ounce (237 milliliters) servings of plant sterol-fortified orange juice.
On a concluding note, lowering one's cholesterol is an achievable goal, provided you are committed to following a healthy diet and exercise regimen. A very basic step towards this goal is to reduce your intake of saturated fats, trans (hydrogenated), and other food items that are known to raise LDL. Do incorporate this list of low cholesterol foods in your diet. Use the potent combination of diet and exercise to battle cholesterol, and you will surely be rewarded with good health.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.