Cholesterol is termed as the steroid lipid or fat content present in your blood needed for the proper functioning of your organs as well as cell membranes. Cholesterol is often one of the most misunderstood aspects of health. Your liver already manufactures all the cholesterol your body requires so it’s imperative to keep a track of your cholesterol consumption levels. High cholesterol is a condition caused by poor eating habits and stress. Furthermore, high cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to accumulate on arteries and blood vessels thus increasing the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
It’s, therefore, paramount to keep a tab on your cholesterol levels as it’s an important part of staying healthy. High cholesterol can be caused owing to a variety of factors right from your age, gender, activity levels to your genetics. Thankfully, a few modifications to your lifestyle by incorporating cholesterol lowering foods in your diet can go a long way in ensuring your cholesterol levels are stable while you maintain optimal health. You can improve cholesterol with medications and other pharmacy products, but if you’d rather first make lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol, then we are here to suggest ways on switching to a cholesterol-lowering diet.
For many individuals, a cholesterol-lowering diet means shunning every form of good food and living off fruits and vegetables. However, they couldn’t be further away from the truth. While it is true that fruits and vegetables are full of cholesterol-lowering antioxidants that will help keep you healthy, there are several other foods available which can help keep your cholesterol levels in check. Completely avoiding all fats and food containing cholesterol is not the answer. The most important thing to remember over and above anything is the importance to keep everything in balance and moderation. You’ll be happy to find out that cholesterol-lowering foods include all sorts of whole grains, great-tasting fruits, fish, lean meats, vegetables, legumes, and plenty of healthy sources of fat as well. Here’s a list of six tried and tested foods that have been known to be particularly useful in controlling your cholesterol levels.
A good way to get started if you’re looking to lower your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal for breakfast. The cholesterol-lowering benefits of oatmeal have been well established as it contains soluble fibre which helps in reducing your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. This basically means it prevents cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream. Current nutrition guidelines recommend at least five to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day to decrease your total and LDL cholesterol.
Researchers have discovered that fish is one of the best sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are one of the naturally occurring magic foods and have been linked to lowering rates of heart disease, dementia, cognitive disorders, depression and many other diseases. Moreover, people consuming omega-3 fatty acid rich fish like mackerel, sardines, salmon, trout and herring at least twice a week are less likely to be prone to heart diseases while also helping reduce incidences of blood pressure, atherosclerosis, high blood fats etc. Including these fishes in your dietary plan can help raise good cholesterol while also supporting a healthy weight and better brain function.
Avocados are rich in glutathione, an antioxidant to neutralise free radicals and also a potent source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which are great for lowering LDL levels. Besides, Avocados also contain high levels of soluble fibre while also helping improve LDL levels in overweight and obese people. Try including avocados in your diet by adding them to your sandwiches, smoothies, salads or you could even make some guacamole and try it out with other heart-healthy foods on this list. However, it’s prudent to remember not to go overboard with avocado consumption as it’s high-fat content makes it a high-calorie food.
Olive oil is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids while also containing a bucket load of antioxidants and Vitamin E which will help raise HDL levels while simultaneously decreasing LDL levels. Moreover, olive oil is also an anti-inflammatory ingredient while being a source of phenolics, which makes blood harder to clot. Get creative and use olive oil to make homemade salad dressings, marinate fish, stir-fry vegetables or use it as a flavor-boosting ingredient for stir-fries. If you’re looking for an oil that has more nutritional benefits than Olive oil, than you’re going to end up sorely disappointed.
The whole legume family is a cholesterol-free treat and includes dry or canned beans, lentils, peas, kidney beans, soy beans etc. Packed full of soluble fibre, they are also incredibly rich in protective nutrients, including minerals, vitamin-B and phytonutrients. This, in turn, contributes to lowering LDL cholesterol levels while supporting healthy circulation. While boasting of a low Glycemic Index, beans are also naturally low in fat and devoid of any cholesterol. There are so many different ways to have them which make them an extremely versatile snack. Enjoy your beans in chilli, hummus, and salads and try to make an effort to eat legumes at least three times a week, ideally every day.
Garlic is a delicious condiment and one of the most well-researched heart healthy ingredients out there. A very widely used supplement, garlic has been around for centuries and is an important part of Ayurveda as well. Part of the allium family, garlic is a delicious addition to healthy food and its antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic and immune-boosting properties have made its way into folklore. Moreover, it also helps in preventing blood clots and lowering LDL cholesterol levels, while keeping your HDL cholesterol at optimum levels. Garlic is a delicious addition to any food and goes well with anything and everything ranging from sauces to soups and roasted veggies to salads.