Keeping your heart healthy should always be a top priority. After all, it’s the muscle at the core of every system in your body!
Left unmonitored, high cholesterol levels can lead to heart attacks and high blood pressure. Below is a list of 17 cholesterol lowering foods to help prevent heart disease and keep your arteries plaque-free.
A study conducted on rats showed that pterostilbene, a compound found in grapes(1), may be very effective on an enzyme responsible for regulating fat levels in blood. Its effect on rats’ liver cells was comparable to the effect of ciprofibrate, a drug used to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Packed with essential nutrients, nuts are a tasty way to provide your body with fibre and protein. Walnuts(2) are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream. These fatty acids may also work to prevent blood clots and slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
When steamed, the fibre-related materials in cabbage(3) bind together with bile acids that reside in your digestive tract. When this happens, bile acids are more easily excreted, leading to reduced cholesterol levels. While raw cabbage also provides this benefit, it is more pronounced when the vegetable is steamed.
4. Red Wine
When consumed in moderation, red wine(4) is reputed to be a heart-healthy beverage. Its antioxidant content promotes good artery health and increase “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, while also decreasing levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.
A recent study suggests that beans may have a powerful effect on LDL levels. The analysis of more than 1000 people indicated that one serving per day of any legumes(5) is linked to a 5 percent reduction of bad cholesterol levels. Sneak some hummus, lentils, or bean paste into your next meal to reap the benefits of these nutritional powerhouses.
These notoriously nutritious fruits are amazing for lowering cholesterol. New research suggests that blueberries(6) can lower the liver’s production of the main enzyme that produces cholesterol in the body. In contrast to certain drugs that unnaturally attack the liver, blueberries are a natural nutritional supplement with a place in any healthy diet.
7. Olive Oil
The monounsaturated fat in olive oil(7) has been shown to help lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Olive oil has for a long time been a dietary staple of Mediterranean countries, which are known for their low rates of heart disease. Use it in a salad dressing to make full use of its creamy taste and texture.
This iron-rich superfood is more than a classic salad ingredient. The lutein in spinach(8) helps keep plaque off artery walls and promotes good eyesight into old age. Spinach can be combined with practically any other ingredient on this list in an epic cholesterol-lowering salad.
Soluble fibre, which oatmeal(9) contains in abundance, is known to improve LDL levels. While no one knows exactly why this is, some researchers have suggested that the gooey texture of fibre blocks the absorption of cholesterol through the intestines. In 1997 the FDA granted oatmeal health claim status, which gave manufacturers the go-ahead to advertise its hearty benefits on their products.
10. Whole Grains
According to the Whole Grains Council, studies on animals and different populations around the world have shown time and time again that diets containing whole grains have many benefits from insulin sensitivity to lowering LDL, as well as controlling blood sugar levels and reducing heart risk. Add some quinoa or teff to your diet.
Studies have shown that tomatoes(10) can raise levels of HDL by 15 percent. Their effects on bad cholesterol are as yet undetermined, but some studies have shown that they can cause a slight decrease in LDL levels. One finding suggests that lycopene, a well-known healthy compound in tomatoes, can help prevent the formation of plaque on artery walls.
While avocados(11) are known to be high in fat, they contain zero cholesterol. They do contain oleic acid, which promotes optimum heart health. Avocados act to both lower LDL levels and raise HDL levels, making them an ideal food to snack on.
The same compound that makes you cry when you chop up onions may contribute to a decrease in heart problems. Onions(12) also contain plant sterols, which further strengthen their cholesterol-fighting profile. One finding suggests that onions can act to raise HDL cholesterol levels, which is always a plus.
14. Dark Chocolate
Cocoa is awesome for maintaining good heart health. Eaten in high concentrations, it can help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. One study comparing the consumption of white chocolate and dark chocolate(13) containing 70% cocoa found significantly better blood sugar and cholesterol levels in the group who had been given dark chocolate.
15. Green Tea
Researchers are still not quite sure what exactly is in Green Tea that helps lower bad cholesterol. However, studies have found that “men who drink green tea are more likely to have lower total cholesterol than those who do not drink green tea.”(14)
16. Flax Seeds
This superfood definitely earns a spot on this list of cholesterol lowering foods. It’s high in both omega-3s and fiber, which are two important things you’ll want if you’re trying to lower cholesterol levels fast. Best of all, you can easily add flax seeds to soups, salads and even smoothies!
17. Fatty Fish
Eating less red meat and more fish can give your body a boost in omega-3s, which in turn can help lower triglycerides and protect your heart.
So there you have it: a sampling of natural foods that help lower cholesterol levels naturally. Encourage good heart health by trying a few slices of avocado with your next breakfast or snacking on blueberries instead of processed junk food. Experiment with this nutritious selection of cholesterol lowering foods and you’ll be sure to reap many benefits.