When it comes to high cholesterol, it’s natural to get bogged down with all the ‘bad’ things we shouldn’t be eating. It’s no secret that limiting those pesky saturated, full-fat, and trans fat foods help to lower cholesterol, but it’s what you DO put into your diet that is just as, if not more important in decreasing the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and raising the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.
There are so many amazing, delicious foods that have been proven to naturally help lower cholesterol. These are just some of the one’s you should be looking to introduce into your everyday diet…
Ok, let’s start with breakfast, after all, it is the most important meal of the day we’re told!
If you’re looking to lower your cholesterol, the key may be to simply alter your morning meal. Oats are among the best source of soluble fibre, which helps to block your body’s ability to absorb cholesterol, in addition to lowering LDL cholesterol. Switching up your breakfast to contain two servings of oats will do the trick in lowering the LDL (bad) cholesterol by approximately 5.3% in only six weeks. But what’s so good about oats? Well, oats contain a substance called beta-glucan, which absorbs LDL, which your body then excretes. The best thing is, oats really are delicious in so many of our breakfast favourites: porridge, yoghurt & fruit, granola…there’s really no excuse for bland, high cholesterol prone breakfasts!
Whether you love them or not, there’s no getting away from the fact that we should all be consuming a good amount of vegetables in our diet. No doubt about it, nutrient-packed, anti-inflammatory vegetables are one of the most high antioxidant foods, especially the green ones. Various dark leafy greens, like kale and spinach, contain very few calories and offer protection against heart attacks by helping artery walls stay clear of cholesterol build up. Of course, there are so many vegetables to choose from, and every type is good, but there are some you may want to consider eating more of. Beets, onions, cabbage, broccoli, and artichokes are especially beneficial for upping your fiber intake and protecting your heart.
If it’s snacking you’re guilty of, then why not try to replace that one, turning into three biscuits, or that naughty packet of salty crisps, with a snack that lowers cholesterol levels. Nuts make a great source of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Almonds and cashews are great options, as they supply antioxidant flavonoids, plant based compounds that improve artery health and reduce inflammation. However, while nuts are heart healthy, they’re also high in calories, so you may want to practise portion control! A shot glass full is a healthy amount to eat a day, and it’s been proven that people who munch on 1.5oz (approximately the shot glass full) of whole walnuts, six days a week for one month, lower their total cholesterol by 5.4% and LDL cholesterol by 9.3%, so you best get cracking!
Hurrah! This common cooking ingredient can help your health.
Olive oil is jam packed with heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which lower LDL cholesterol, as well as having a welcomed side effect of trimming belly fat. Use it instead of butter for frying, or use extra virgin to make homemade salad dressings, or as a flavour boosting ingredient for sauces, marinades, and stir-fries.
Chia & Flax Seeds
The growing popularity of using chia and flaxseeds is a great thing for cholesterol. Flaxseeds are the richest source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, called alphalinolenic acid. They also rank number one in terms of providing hormone-balancing lignans…who knew! Both chia and flaxseeds are extremely high in soluble and insoluble fiber, which can support detoxification and gut health, helping with weight loss. A great way of introducing these “magic” seeds into your diet would be in baked goods, like bread or even biscuits, blended into our morning smoothie or even with porridge.
Now, we all love an avocado spammed Instagram, it’s even become an emoji! But do you really know the benefits of this delectable food? Avocados are one of the world’s greatest sources of heart healthy monounsaturated fat, the type that can help raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL. More than any other fruit out there, avocados are packed with cholesterol-fighting beta-sitosterol, a beneficial plant based fat that reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from foods. Avocados are so versatile when it comes to recipes! Of course, you can’t quite beat homemade guacamole, it’s so simple. But you can also use this green gem as an ingredient in smoothies, with eggs, or even to make sweet treats such as ice cream and cakes. Be creative!
Finally, the one we’ve been waiting for! Chocolate is indeed a food that naturally lowers cholesterol, as this powerful antioxidant helps build HDL (good) cholesterol levels. But remember to choose the dark bittersweet kind, as compared to milk chocolate, it has more than three times as many antioxidants, which help to prevent blood platelets from sticking together and keeps arteries unclogged.
While green tea is considered the number one beverage for anti-aging, and is well known for it’s cancer-fighting antioxidants, it’s also a great defence against high LDL cholesterol levels. According to research conducted with the USDA, black tea has been shown to reduce blood lipids by up to 10% in only 3 weeks. These findings were concluded in a larger study of how tea may also help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. We’ll definitely drink to that!
Beans, beans, they really are good for your heart, and are also known for packing in fiber, which slows the rate and amount of absorption of cholesterol. They’re another food that contains antioxidants, as well as certain beneficial trace minerals that support healthy circulation. There are so many varieties of beans out there, why not mix them up and try black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, mung beans, and other varieties in soups, salads, homemade baked beans, and of course hummus.
Turmeric is the queen of all spices when it comes to fighting inflammation. It’s a spice of many benefits, including, lowering cholesterol, preventing clots, fighting viruses, increasing immune health, and balancing hormones. Turmeric contains the active ingredient called curcumin, which has been studied in regards to protection against numerous inflammatory diseases including heart disease, cancer, ulcerative colitis, arthritis and many more. Get spicy with your food by adding turmeric, and you will reap the benefits.
Aside from being utterly delicious, and packing a punch to almost any dish, garlic is indeed another food that lowers cholesterol. The benefits of raw garlic have been shown to reverse disease due to its antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-diabetic, and immune-boosting properties. Garlic has been found to lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure and protect against infections. It also helps stop artery-clogging plaque at its earliest stage by keeping cholesterol particles from sticking to artery walls, so try and use 1-3 cloves every day however you can, whether in sauces, soups, roasted veggies, or marinades.
Salmon & Fatty Fish
Salmon and other fatty fish are packed full of omega-3, one of the natural health wonders of the world!
Well known for warding off heart disease, dementia, and many other diseases, it’s also great for helping to lower cholesterol. According to research from Loma Linda University, replacing saturated fats with omega-3s, like those found in salmon, sardines, and herring, can raise good cholesterol as much as 4%.
As we become more health conscious, many of us are looking to eat more of what is good for us and our cholesterol, so introducing these twelve ingredients into our everyday diet is a great start!
If you’re already eating plenty of these natural cholesterol-lowering foods then keep up the good work! And don’t forget to tweet us sharing the creative ways you use each ingredient.