If you have been careless in your eating habits and your cholesterol has flourished, don’t give up hope. All is not lost. The Harvard Medical Bulletin Healthbeat says that changing what you eat can lower your cholesterol and improve the fats floating through your bloodstream. Some foods are better than others in bringing down cholesterol.
“Some cholesterol-lowering foods deliver a good dose of soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Others provide polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). And those with plant sterols and stanols keep the body from absorbing cholesterol. Here are 5 of those foods:
1. Oats. An easy way to start lowering cholesterol is to choose oatmeal or a cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram.
2. Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices — from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond — and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food.
3. Nuts. A bushel of studies shows that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.
4. Foods fortified with sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols extracted from plants gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate. They’re also available as supplements. Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.
5. Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.”
I have written about several helpful additions to diet here. The Top 10 Good Things About Oats. Also Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds are valuable additions to your diet that provide good essential fatty acids.
On the flip side of those good foods, Healthbeat recommends that we avoid or limit certain others:
“Saturated fats. The saturated fats found in red meat, milk and other dairy foods, and coconut and palm oils directly boost LDL. So one way to lower your LDL is to cut back on saturated fat. Try substituting extra-lean ground beef for regular; low-fat or skim milk for whole milk; olive oil or a vegetable-oil margarine for butter; baked fish or chicken for fried.
Once again, I take exception to this kind of blanket condemnation of saturated fats. I have posted on the benefits of cooking with and eating coconut oil. Check out my Page – Coconut Oil – Why You Should Include it in Your Diet.
“Trans fats. Trans fats are a byproduct of the chemical reaction that turns liquid vegetable oil into solid margarine or shortening and that prevents liquid vegetable oils from turning rancid. Trans fats boost LDL as much as saturated fats do. They also lower protective High-density lipoprotein (HDL), rev up inflammation, and increase the tendency for blood clots to form inside blood vessels. Although trans fats were once ubiquitous in prepared foods, many companies now use trans-free alternatives. Some restaurants and fast-food chains have yet to make the switch.”
To read more about this you can order What to do about High Cholesterol from Harvard Medical School.