What you need to eat to get rid of heart-related risks
If how to lower cholesterol is a concern for you then it’s time to look into the fridge for a change. You’ve been told one too many times about including healthy foods in your diet to help you lose weight and stay fit. But a diet rich in nutrients not only helps you lead a healthy lifestyle but also offers tons of health benefits such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases associated with high cholesterol.
While small lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity and exercising to lose weight could be one way how to lower cholesterol, a healthy diet is equally important. The foods that need to to be a part of your diet to lower cholesterol levels include whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Your consumption of red meat can be reduced and you need to completely avoid added sugars as well as overly processed foods. These foods are a great start to your healthy diet. According to research, certain foods contain natural compounds to help reduce cholesterol. They do so by lowering the LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in your bloodstream.
How to lower cholesterol: 10 foods you need to eat
While there are no substitutes available for medications that help lower cholesterol, these 10 foods, if included in your daily diet, will most definitely keep your cholesterol levels from going any higher. It is advisable to consult your nutritionist or physician before you make any major dietary changes.
Also referred to as pulses, legumes which are a part of plant-based foods. Common examples of legumes are beans, peas, and lentils. Legumes are rich in nutrients such as fiber, minerals and a good amount of protein. Legumes can be used to replace the refined grains and processed meats in your diet in order to reduce the risk of heart diseases. Consuming legumes also helps facilitate weight loss and they are often included in diets that do not restrict calorie intake.
Avocados are a type of fruit. They are extremely dense in nutrients. Avocados are a rich source of monounsaturated fats and fiber, which are two important nutrients that help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase healthy HDL (good cholesterol) levels in your body. Other nutrients that are found in avocados are protein, fiber, B-complex vitamins, vitamin K and several minerals.
Nuts like almonds and walnuts are another type of food that is rich in nutrients. Similar to avocados, nuts are high in monounsaturated fats. Walnuts are rich in the plant variety of omega-3 fatty acids, which is a type of polyunsaturated fat connected to heart health. Nuts are also known to contain high amounts of protein. They are rich in L-arginine which is an amino acid known to help in the making of nitric oxide. This is known to help regulate blood pressure. Nuts contain plant compounds called phytosterols as well. Phytosterols are structurally similar to cholesterol. They block its absorption in the intestines and are one of the ways to help with how to lower cholesterol. Additionally, nuts are a rich source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium. These minerals help in lowering the risk of heart diseases and reduce blood pressure.
4. Fatty fish
Fatty fish, especially salmon and mackerel, provide long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are directly connected to improved heart health since they increase HDL cholesterol. They also lower stroke risk and inflammation. The healthiest ways to consume fish in your diet are baked, broiled, grilled or raw. On the other hand, fried fish could build the risk of heart disease and stroke, so it is best to avoid it. Since fish is a major part of the Mediterranean diet, it has been studied to a large extent for its health benefits for the heart. Some of the benefits of fish that protect the heart are derived from certain peptides found in fish protein.
5. Whole grains
Whole grains like oats and barley are known to lower the risk of heart diseases, according to several studies. Whole grains are provided with more vitamins, plant compounds, minerals and fiber than refined grains because they have all parts of the grain intact. Oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan which lowers cholesterol. Barley is also rich in beta-glucans and helps reduce LDL cholesterol.
6. Fruits and berries
Fruits are an excellent food source for heart health. Most fruits are rich in soluble fiber, which is what makes them one of the answers to how to lower cholesterol levels. Fruits are known to inhibit the formation of cholesterol by the liver. Pectin, which is a type of soluble fiber found in fruits such as apples, citrus fruits, grapes and strawberries lowers cholesterol levels by 10 per cent. Bioactive compounds are also found in fruits that help prevent heart disease and other chronic diseases, with the help of their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
7. Cocoa and dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains cocoa as one of its main ingredients. As per research, both dark chocolate and cocoa can help you in your quest of how to lower cholesterol. Moreover, both of these foods protect LDL cholesterol in your blood from oxidation, which is a crucial step that LDL cholesterol undergoes before leading toward heart disease. But on the flip side, chocolate is rich in added sugar, which is harmful for heart health. Therefore, either consume cocoa directly or consume dark chocolate with cocoa content with 75-85 per cent or higher.
Garlic is not only used as an ingredient while cooking but also has several medicinal properties that can partially answer your how to lower cholesterol questions. Garlic contains plant compounds like allicin, an important active compound. Several studies have shown the lowering of blood pressure by just using garlic in the diet of individuals who suffer from high blood pressure. You can also use garlic supplements to help lower cholesterol levels.
9. Soy foods
Another type of legume that proves beneficial to heart health is soybeans. An analysis of 35 studies conducted in 2015 proves that people who eat soy foods were found to have reduced LDL and total cholesterol as well as increased HDL cholesterol. This effect is especially strongest in people who have high cholesterol.
You know that vegetables comprise an important part of a healthy diet. Veggies are rich in fiber, antioxidants and low in calories. All these factors prove beneficial in maintaining a healthy BMI. Some vegetables are high in pectin, the cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber that is also found in apples and oranges. Vegetables that are rich in pectin include okra, eggplants, potatoes and carrots. Veggies also contain a range of plant compounds that are linked to heart health benefits.