5 foods to lower your cholesterol naturally
SALT LAKE CITY — February is American Heart Month, an entire month dedicated to focusing on heart health. One aspect of heart health is making sure your cholesterol levels are within a healthy range. High blood cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for developing heart disease or having a heart attack.
There are no symptoms of high cholesterol, so most people with high cholesterol don’t even know they have it. Luckily, you can get your cholesterol levels checked with a simple blood test. After diagnosis, many people are prescribed medication to help get their cholesterol levels within a normal range. But medication isn’t the only thing that can help.
Lifestyle factors play a big role in helping manage cholesterol levels and keeping your heart healthy, too. Along with being physically active, the American Heart Association recommends a diet high in fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels by as much as 10%. In addition to high fiber intake, they also suggest an overall balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts, while limiting sugary foods and beverages.
To get you started eating a heart-healthy diet, here are five foods you can eat to reduce cholesterol levels and keep your heart ticking healthily away.
No surprise here if you’ve ever watched a Cheerios commercial or read the back of their cereal box. The main ingredient in Cheerios is oats, which is why they claim heart health right on the package.
Whole oats (e.g., oat bran, rolled oats, and whole oat flour) contain a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan helps reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol. Oats also control blood cholesterol levels by keeping some of the cholesterol from food going through your digestive tract instead of entering your bloodstream.
Eating 5 to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day has been shown to help reduce LDL cholesterol. One serving of oatmeal or oat bran provides 3 to 4 grams of fiber. Stir in a sliced banana or berries and you’ll add even more fiber.
Try out these healthy oat recipes any time of day:
- peanut butter banana oatmeal smoothie
- mango turmeric overnight oats
- peach and pecan baked oatmeal
- loaded morning glory muffins
Beans are another food high in soluble fiber, adding to the cholesterol-lowering effect mentioned above. The high fiber content of beans also slows digestion, which helps you feel fuller longer after eating. They are also saturated fat and cholesterol-free. Besides being healthy for the heart, beans are healthy for your wallet, too. They are an inexpensive plant-based source of protein.
While the different types of beans vary slightly in their nutritional composition, all provide heart health benefits. You can choose to eat whichever type of bean you prefer, from navy, black and kidney beans to garbanzo, black-eyed peas, lentils and more. As a bonus, beans are very versatile and you can prepare them in many different ways.
Get cooking with beans in these recipes:
- fully loaded refried bean skillet
- chocolate peanut butter dessert hummus
- smoked paprika sweet potato chili
- warm white bean kale salad
Flaxseeds contain ALA omega-3 fatty acids, which are an essential omega-3 because it cannot be made by your body; you must get it from the foods you eat. Flaxseeds have the most ALA omega-3 of any whole food source. Additionally, they contain protein, soluble and insoluble fiber, and lignans (a plant-based phytoestrogen). All of these nutrients work together to help with cholesterol management and support overall heart health.
If your current diet isn’t very high in fiber, start out by slowly adding more foods with fiber to your diet over the course of a week or two. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid gastrointestinal upset.
Add flaxseed to your diet with these recipes:
- superfood smoothie
- peanut butter chocolate chip energy bites
- sweet potato flax waffles
- simple flaxseed hummus
Almonds are a powerhouse of a nut containing high amounts of healthy unsaturated fats, phytosterols, antioxidants such as flavonoids and vitamin E, plant-based protein and dietary fiber. In fact, almonds are the tree nut highest in both protein and fiber. All these nutrients combine to help keep cholesterol levels in a healthy range.
Don’t go overboard with nuts, though. Eating one serving of almonds (1 ounce, or about 23 almonds) a day is all you need, giving you 13 grams of unsaturated fat, 6 grams of protein, and 3.5 grams of dietary fiber.
Go nuts with almonds in these recipes:
- roasted apricot almond smoothie
- chocolate coconut almond balls
- almond granola cups
- rosemary roasted almonds
Fatty fish, such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your triglyceride levels. They are high in protein and low in saturated fat, making it a good alternative to red meat.
Omega-3 fats don’t lower LDL cholesterol levels, but because of the other heart health benefits, the American Heart Association recommends eating at least two (3.5 ounce) servings of fatty fish a week. Don’t think a fried fish sandwich from the drive-thru counts toward those heart health benefits, though. Instead of frying, healthier ways to prepare fish include to broil, bake, grill or steam them.
Get your seafood servings in with these salmon recipes:
- pan seared salmon with sun-dried tomato cream sauce
- Mediterranean salmon sake with spring vegetables
- salmon burgers with avocado garlic sauce
- spicy smoked salmon and avocado sushi bowl
Besides these foods to lower your cholesterol, New Health Corp. has developed HeartSavior! A proven way to lower your cholesterol. HeartSavior, developed by Doctors and scientific researchers, contains 6 Powerful all natural cholesterol lowering ingredients that attack high cholesterol in 6 distinct ways while also improving overall heart health.