High levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and heart attack.
There are three main types of cholesterol:
- high-density lipoprotein (HDL),
- low-density lipoprotein (LDL),
- very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL).
- HDL is good for your health, LDL and VLHL aren’t.
Even though high cholesterol does not recognize ethnicity, age, or gender, there are some factors which can contribute to it and increase the risk.
The most common factors are poor diet, obesity, excessive smoking, physical inactivity, diabetes, large waist circumference and hypothyroidism.
Since there aren’t any symptoms for high cholesterol, it is very important to do checkups from time to time. A panel test can measure your total, LDL and HDL cholesterol as well as your triglycerides.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that these are the healthy levels of cholesterol:
- Total cholesterol – less than 200 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol – 40 mg/dL or higher
- LDL cholesterol – less than 100 mg/dL
- Triglycerides – less than 150 mg/dL
Not controlling your high cholesterol on time can lead to serious health problems like strokes, chest pain, and heart attacks.
Fortunately, there are natural ways to reduce your cholesterol levels. Today, we have 10 beneficial foods which will help you to lower your cholesterol
Ten Superfoods to Reduce Cholesterol
Almonds are packed with fiber, polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats, all of which have the ability to increase the good HDL cholesterol and lower the bad LDL cholesterol.
According to a 2011 study, eating 3 almonds or other nuts on a daily basis can lower the bad cholesterol levels by 3-19%. Moreover, another study published by the Journal of American Heart Association, proved that the regular consumption of almonds can be a simple, but effective method to prevent cardio-metabolic diseases.
Eat a handful of these nuts combined with cereal or yogurt, and let this become your favorite healthy meal. Walnuts and flaxseeds are also extremely effective for lowering high cholesterol levels.
Oatmeal has high content of soluble fibers, so having this for breakfast is an easy and effective way to reduce your high cholesterol. The fibers found in oatmeal can reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
The regular consumption of oats is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. You can add oatmeal in your baked goods or in you smoothies as well.
Salmon contain DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids which have the ability to prevent high cholesterol levels. It can increase the good cholesterol and reduce triglycerides, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease.
You should consume at least two servings of grilled or baked salmon per week. If you consider taking fish oil supplements, make sure to consult your doctor first.
4. Orange Juice
According to a study published by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, orange juice is very effective for improving the levels of blood lipid in people who suffer from hypercholesterolemia due to its rich content of vitamin C, folate, and flavonoids like hesperidin. It is recommended to consume 2-3 cups of orange juice. You can also consume a few oranges a day.
5. Green Tea
Drinking a few cups of green tea a day is the easiest way to lower the total and bad cholesterol. According to a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, green tea can reduce bad cholesterol levels and fasting serum total in adults.
This tea contains compounds which can prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract and help the excretion of it. What is more, green tea can prevent buildup of plaque in the arteries, and lower the risk of stroke and heart attack.
You should consume 3-4 cups of green tea a day, either hot or iced. If you want to take supplements, make sure to consult your doctor first.
6. Soybeans and Soy Products
Soybeans and soy products have plant-based protein which is very beneficial in the case of high cholesterol levels. Soy is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, polyunsaturated fats, and low in saturated fats.
A 2011 study showed that consuming 15-30 grams (1-2 servings) of soy protein a day can reduce your risk of heart disease. You should consume more soybean, soy flour, tofu, edamame, and enriched soy milk if you want to reduce your cholesterol levels.
Avocados have rich content of monounsaturated fats which can lower the LDL cholesterol in overweight or obese people and increase the levels of HLD (good cholesterol).
Avocados are rich in protein, fiber, B-complex vitamins, vitamin K, and some minerals that are extremely beneficial for your health. It is recommended to consume one avocado a day. You can eat avocado slices as a side dish or add it to salads or sandwiches.
8. Olive Oil
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat that can reduce LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Moreover, olive oil is a great source of vitamin E, which is essential for the good condition of your overall health, including the heart.
You should take 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil a day. You can use it to make salad dressings, or as a dip for bread. However, make sure not to use it excessively because this oil is high in calories.
9. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is another beneficial food for reducing the LDL cholesterol levels and increasing the HDL cholesterol. A 2013 study proved that dark chocolate contains theobromine, a component that has the ability to increase the HDL cholesterol.
Dark chocolate is a great source of flavonoids and antioxidants which can prevent blood platelets from sticking together, and prevent clogged arteries. This will lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes. You should consume 1-2 small pieces of dark chocolate, but make sure it is at least 60% cocoa.
Garlic has the ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well. It can prevent blood clots and heart disease.
According to the National Institute of Integrative Medicine, the pharmaceutical cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering medications should be replaced with garlic extract.
It is recommended to consume 2-3 cloves on an empty stomach every day. You can use fresh garlic in salad dressings, soups, and stews. If you want to take garlic supplements, make sure to consult your doctor for the proper dosage.
- Avoid or reduce the consumption of alcohol
- Follow a diet low in saturated fats
- Quit smoking
- Avoid processed foods, dairy products, egg yolks, red meat and other foods which contribute to bad cholesterol
- Avoid excessive processed sugars and carbohydrates, fatty or fried foods
- Make sure to exercise at least half an hour, 5 days a week
- Keep a healthy weight