Cholesterol plays a crucial part in helping cells function properly. But when your cholesterol levels are too high, your risk for heart disease and stroke skyrockets. In today’s video, we talk about 10 foods that can help lower your cholesterol levels fast.
As always, this video is educational and does not constitute medical advice; we are not doctors.
Did you know that your liver produces 75% of the cholesterol that circulates in your body? The remaining 25% comes from the foods you eat.
High cholesterol means your total cholesterol level is 200 mg/dL or higher.
There are two main types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also referred to as good cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also referred to as bad cholesterol.
When LDL cholesterol is exposed to free radicals, it becomes oxidized.
While oxidation is inevitable and results from normal cellular activity, an overproduction of oxidized cholesterol can be harmful to heart health.
That’s because oxidized cholesterol builds up on the artery walls and leads to the hardening and narrowing of arteries or atherosclerosis.
You can prevent this from happening by reducing LDL cholesterol in your body and increasing your intake of antioxidants to fight off free radicals.
With that being said, the first item on our list is Number 10. “Legumes.”
Legumes are a group of plant foods that include beans, peas, and lentils.
A review of 26 randomized controlled studies showed that participants who ate just half a cup or 100 grams of legumes per day lowered their bad LDL cholesterol by an average of 6.6 mg/dl, compared to those who did not eat any legumes.
Legumes are packed with essential minerals and proteins. They’re also loaded with antioxidants, which are important to fend off free radicals.
But most importantly, legumes contain a good amount of soluble fiber.
In the small intestine, soluble fiber attaches itself to cholesterol and exits the body as waste. This prevents any cholesterol that’s been absorbed by the soluble fiber from entering your bloodstream.
Eating more legumes can also help decrease blood sugar levels and increase healthy gut bacteria.
Next is another food high in soluble fiber. Number 9 is “Oatmeal”.
When we don’t eat enough dietary fiber, our LDL ends up much higher than it is supposed to be.
Just eating 3 grams of soluble fiber throughout the day is enough to lower your LDL cholesterol, according to the American Dietetic Association.
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers tested cholesterol-lowering drugs against cholesterol-lowering foods in a group of thirty-four adults with high cholesterol.
Oat products were found to lower cholesterol levels about as well as cholesterol drugs.
Adding oatmeal into your diet is fairly simple.
But keep in mind that not everything with “oatmeal” in the name is healthy.
For example, some so-called oatmeal cookies might contain very little oatmeal and lots of fat and sugar. Always pay attention to the nutrition label.
Next, add this food to your oatmeal to make it even more nutritious. Number 8 is “Almonds”.
Almonds have been found to have a consistent LDL cholesterol-lowering effect in healthy individuals, and in individuals with high cholesterol and diabetes, in both controlled and free-living settings.
In a study published in the journal Circulation, participants who ate about a handful of almonds a day lowered their bad LDL cholesterol by 4.4%.
And those who ate two handfuls lowered it by 9.4%.
Almonds also contain relatively high levels of vitamin E.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help stop the oxidation process that causes cholesterol to clog the arteries.
One ounce (28.4 g) of plain almonds provides 7.27 mg of vitamin E, which is around half a person’s daily requirement.
The next time you have a bowl of oatmeal, add some sliced or whole almonds to make your own cholesterol-lowering breakfast.
Next is another nut that lowers bad cholesterol. Number 7 is “Walnuts”.
Similar to almonds, walnuts are loaded with vitamin E.
But they’re also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the same heart-healthy fat found in oily fish.
In one study, researchers found that people who ate about half a cup of walnuts every day for two years lowered their LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 4.3 mg/dL.
Walnut-eaters also reduced their number of total LDL particles by 4.3% and small particles by 6.1%.
Not many people know this, but LDL particles come in various sizes.
Smaller, denser LDL particles are often associated with atherosclerosis or plaque that build up in the arteries.
Nuts like almonds and walnuts also contain phytosterols. These plant compounds are structurally similar to cholesterol and help lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption in your intestines.
Coming up next is something you should eat every day. Number 6 is “Dark Leafy Greens.”
Vegetables are good for your heart, and dark leafy greens are particularly beneficial.
Dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, contain lutein and other carotenoids, which are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Carotenoids act as antioxidants to protect your body against free radicals.
This helps reduce the amount of oxidized LDL cholesterol and can help prevent cholesterol from binding to artery walls.
The fiber in dark leafy greens also helps lower cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids produced by your liver and making your body excrete more cholesterol.
Next is a superfood that’s brimming with antioxidants. Number 5 is “Berries”.
Blueberries, raspberries, black berries and even strawberries, each contain varying amounts of healthy compounds that have cholesterol-lowering properties like pterostilbene, resveratrol, anthocyanins, polyphenols, vitamins, and phytosterols.
In one study, researchers found that drinking a one-liter mixture of freeze-dried and fresh blueberries helped lower oxidized LDL by 28 percent.
Next is a popular berry that has almost no sugar. Number 4 is “Avocados”.
Avocados are rich in heart-healthy nutrients.
They’re an excellent source of monounsaturated fats and fiber.
These two key nutrients help lower “bad” LDL and raise “good” HDL cholesterol
One cup, or 150 g, of avocado contains 14.7 g of monounsaturated fats, which can help lower the risk of heart disease and strokes.
In one study, overweight and obese adults with high LDL cholesterol who ate one avocado daily lowered their LDL levels more than those who didn’t eat avocados.
Another delicious food that can help lower cholesterol is Number 3. “Dark chocolate”.
Cocoa is the key ingredient in dark chocolate.
In one study, healthy adults who drank a cocoa beverage twice a day for a month reduced LDL cholesterol by 6.5 mg/dL.
Their blood pressure also decreased and their “good” HDL cholesterol increased.
Flavanols contribute a bitter taste to pure cacao and dark chocolate.
The flavanols found in cacao include catechins and tannins. Both are also found in tea.
Catechins help prevent the LDL cholesterol in your blood from oxidizing. This is a key cause of heart disease.
However, store bought chocolate is often high in added sugar, which is bad for your arteries.
So make sure to either use cocoa powder alone or choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 75–85% or higher.
Next is a food staple that is best enjoyed during Fall. Number 2 is “Apples”.
Apples contain a type of soluble fiber called pectin, which has been found to help lower cholesterol.
Pectin can be found in other fruits, like grapes, citrus fruits, and even strawberries.
The mechanism by which pectin lowers cholesterol is like other water-soluble fibers.
By increasing gut viscosity, it reduces the re-absorption of bile acids, increasing synthesis of bile acids from cholesterol, and reduces circulating blood cholesterol.
An analysis of 67 studies in 2,990 adults found that pectin can help reduce LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL levels.
Overall, pectin was found to help lower total cholesterol by 5–16%.
Last but not least, our Number 1 is “Okra”.
Okra, or lady’s fingers, is a warm-season vegetable cultivated throughout the world.
Researchers have found that a gel in okra called mucilage can help lower cholesterol by binding to it during digestion.
There you have it! The 10 foods that lower bad cholesterol and protect your heart and arteries.
For every 10% drop in your total cholesterol level, your heart attack risk drops by 20% to 30%.
In addition, it’s important to reduce your consumption of foods that are high in saturated fat and trans fat, like fast food, fried foods, and commercial baked goods. These foods have been found to increase LDL cholesterol levels. See our video, Top 13 Foods That Cause Inflammation.
To discover a 10-second trick to support healthy cholesterol and restore your blood pressure, click the link below.
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And now, over to you. What foods are you eating to improve your cholesterol profile?
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