Diet along with other important lifestyle changes play important roles in lowering blood cholesterol. Many natural solutions are proven effective in reducing cholesterol without the need for prescription drugs. Unless your cholesterol levels are unusually poor, or your doctor recommends a prescription medication, cutting back on cholesterol and fat intake including trans fats and saturated fats may be all you need.
Incorporate a selection of foods from the following groups in your diet and you will be on your way to lowering your bad cholesterol.
- High-fiber Foods – Soluble fiber found in whole grains like oatmeal and oat bran, kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes, can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Doctors recommend 5-10 grams of high-fiber foods per day to lower the bad cholesterol.
- Nuts – Walnuts and almonds are rich in polyunsaturated acids that can substantially reduce cholesterol and maintain healthy blood vessels. Eating a handful of almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachio nuts, or walnuts per day may reduce the risk of heart disease. If you also have problems with high blood pressure, you should eat unsalted nuts only.
- Olive Oil – Consuming two tablespoons of olive oil in place of other fats in the diet can lower bad cholesterol and benefit your heart. Extra-virgin olive oil is less processed, therefore more potent.
- Plant Sterols and Stanols – Foods fortified with plant sterols or stanols have been found to help block the absorption of cholesterol, but they do not affect your levels of good cholesterol. Plant sterols and stanols naturally in grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, but only in small amounts. Food makers have started adding them to foods to take advantage of their powerful cholesterol-lowering effects. Orange juice and yogurt drinks fortified with plant sterols can help reduce bad cholesterol by as much as 10% if taken in 2-gram portions per day.
- Blueberries – Pterostilbene, found in blueberries may be as effective as prescription drugs in lowering cholesterol without the side effects. Blueberries are also one of the most powerful antioxidant foods available in nature.
- Avocados – Avocados contain unsaturated fats that support the level of high-density proteins in the body. They also lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- Black Soybeans – Studies show black soybeans may help prevent obesity, lower LDL cholesterol, and reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. This power food tastes more like traditional beans that yellow soybeans, making the perfect substitute in any bean recipe.
- Yogurt – Dairy is usually one of the last food groups you consider when looking for cholesterol-lowering foods. However, yogurt with live active cultures Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Reuteri can help lower cholesterol. The active cultures work by preventing cholesterol from being absorbed back in to the blood stream.
- Brown Rice – Unlike its white counterpart, brown rice contains oils that reduce cholesterol. This food is also rich in fiber which helps absorb cholesterol in the digestive tract, preventing it from entering the bloodstream.
Some foods have been reported to lower cholesterol, but have no solid proof to show they really work. These foods include pomegranate juice, garlic, and omega III fatty acids. These foods have many other proven health benefits, but lowering cholesterol is not one of them. Omega III fatty acids will raise the good cholesterol, but they won’t lower bad cholesterol.
Don’t forget that cholesterol lowering foods in combination with a balanced diet and a daily exercise are all important for a healthy lifestyle. Only with all three will you win the battle with cholesterol.
Jessica Bosari writes for the education website, Nutritionist-World.com. The site helps students find the best schools for pursuing Nutritionist Certification and entering culinary programs.