If you’ve recently been to the doctor and found out that you have high cholesterol, you may be trying to make sense of the information. What exactly is cholesterol? What does it mean when your cholesterol levels are high? How does it affect your health? How can you lower it?
First things first: What is cholesterol… It’s a waxy substance that your body uses to build cells, which is a good thing; however, when there’s too much of it, it’s a bad thing. Your body naturally produces the cholesterol you need, but it’s also found in a lot of foods that you might be consuming on a daily basis. When you’re taking in more cholesterol, especially in high amounts, there’s an excess, which can be bad.
Cholesterol circulates through the blood, and as cholesterol levels rise, so do the risks to your health.
There are actually two types of cholesterol: HDL is the good kind, and LDL is the bad kind. If you have too much of the bad type, or you don’t have enough of the good type, the bad cholesterol (the LDL) will accumulate around the interior walls of the arteries, which feed blood back to the heart and to the brain. This accumulation can narrow the arteries, reducing their flexibility. If the arteries are narrowed and a clot forms, you could end up suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Of course, you don’t want to end up being the victim of such a devastating, life-threatening condition, so you want to make sure that you keep your cholesterol in-check and lower the bad type. How can you do that? – There are medications available, or, you can simply make changes to your diet. There are a lot of foods out there that have been proven to reduce cholesterol levels. By adding these foods to your diet, you can reduce your cholesterol levels and keep your heart – and the rest of your body – healthy.
So, what foods help to lower cholesterol? Here’s a look at 20 different options that are a great way to naturally bring your cholesterol levels down.
If you want to lower your cholesterol naturally, try adding some oats to your diet. By eating two servings of oats a day, you can lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels by as much as 5.3 percent in as little as 6 weeks! Oats contain bega-glucan, a substance that actually absorbs LDL cholesterol. Once it’s absorbed, your body secrets it. In addition to lowering cholesterol, oats are also packed with other valuable nutrients, including magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and sprinkle some into yogurt for an afternoon snack.
These root vegetables offer some pretty amazing help benefits. They are full of phytochemicals, which combat free radical damage and help to keep the arteries flexible, thus preventing them from becoming backed up with cholesterol. In addition to helping you lower bad cholesterol levels, beets are also rich in beneficial nutrients, such as fiber, iron vitamin C, magnesium, folate and potassium. You can simply boil up some beets and enjoy them as a snack or a dish alongside your favorite main dish, or you can use them as a topper on a salad, or blend them up into a healthy smoothie.
3. Red Wine
It turns out that drinking a glass of red wine a day can not only help to calm your nerves, but it can also help to improve your health; in particular, it can help lower your cholesterol levels. Tempranillo grapes, which are used to make red wine, are high in fiber, which helps to dramatically lower bad cholesterol levels. One study found that drinking a glass of red wine made with Tempranillo grapes helped to lower cholesterol levels by 9 percent. So, go ahead and pour yourself a glass or red wine and do a cheer to lower cholesterol.
This cold water, fatty fish is loaded with nutrients and has been found to provide some profound effects on both physical and mental health. Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to increased good cholesterol levels (HDL) by as much as four percent. Omega-3 fatty acids can also ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This fish also serves up healthy doses of vitamin B12, potassium and selenium. Throw a salmon filet on a cedar plan and grill it up, or pan sear it and serve it on top of a salad or mix it in with pasta.
These meaty nuts are an excellent source of both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are good for your overall health. They also offer a nice amount of fiber. They also contain antioxidant flavonoids, compounds that help to improve the health of the arteries and lower inflammation. It has been found that almonds can lower LDLs and can prevent any damage from occurring within the walls of the arteries and protect against cholesterol plaque buildup. Walnuts are also rich in fiber, magnesium, phosphorus and protein, as well as other vital nutrients. Each a handful of nuts for a healthy snack, use them in place of croutons on a salad, or sprinkle some into your breakfast cereal.
These seeds may be tiny, but they pack a powerful punch for your health, in a good way. They are actually the richest source of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA.) They also contain high levels of lignana and both soluble and insoluble fiber, all components that can significantly lower cholesterol levels, as well as support detoxification and improve the health of the gut. The key to the cholesterol lowering property of flaxseeds likes in the soluble fiber; it traps cholesterol in the digestive tract so that it cannot be absorbed by the body.
These green, meaty fruits are one of the best sources of monounsaturated fat, the type of fat that is good for the health of your heart. This fat helps to raise the good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL.) Avocados also offer a high amount of soluble fiber, phytochemicals, folate, niacin, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. You can simply cut an avocado in half, remove the pit and eat it right out of the skin, or you can slice it up and add it on top of a salad or sandwich. Another way to enjoy avocado is to mash it up and turn it into guacamole.
8. Black tea
Black tea is perhaps best known for its antioxidants, which have been found to prevent and fight cancer; however, these antioxidants are also a great line of defense against high LDL cholesterol (the bad type.) Black tea has been found to lower blood lipids by an astonishing 10 percent in just 3 weeks! To gain the benefits of this cholesterol fighting beverage, simply steep a black tea bag in boiling water and enjoy!
9. Dark chocolate
If you’re a chocolate lover, you are going to love it even more, especially if you are trying to lower your cholesterol levels. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that help to build HDL levels, the good cholesterol. The darker the chocolate and the more cocoa it contains, the better health benefits it offers. This healthy treat also offers fiber, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and protein. Munch on a dark chocolate bar for a tasty, healthy snack, or add some shavings to your bowl of cereal of yogurt.
10. Olive oil
Derived from olives, this type of oil is backed with monounsaturated fatty acids, which help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol.) While all types of olive oil can help to lower cholesterol levels, the extra virgin variety has been found to provide the most profound effects. Replace any oil you use with extra virgin olive oil. You can use it to mix up homemade salad dressings, or use it in any recipe that calls for oil.