Protecting the heart is very important. If you have cholesterol problems, it is vital that you know the foods that lower it. Oftentimes, changes in the diet are required in order to have a healthy heart. You can check with your doctor and nutritionist to find out the right foods to eat.
What to Eat?
Below are some of the foods that lower cholesterol levels:
1. Foods rich in fiber
A very good soluble-fiber rich food is oatmeal. If you want to decrease LDL cholesterol, you must eat about 5-10 grams of oatmeal every day. You can get six grams of fiber by simply eating 1 ½ cups plus a fruit like banana. Some cereals are made from bran or oat, so check the labels to make an informed purchase.
Beans are also rich in fiber that aids in digestion, as well as in lowering cholesterol. If you want to lose weight, eating beans is good especially kidney beans, navy, black-eyed peas, garbanzos, and lentils. This is a versatile food and preparation is very easy.
Okra and eggplant are vegetables with low calories. It is also a good source of fiber.
Fruits are also rich in fiber. Pectin is a soluble fiber that can be found in citrus fruits, strawberries, grapes, and apples.
Fiber supplements are widely available. You can ask your doctor for a prescription to ensure that you’re taking quality supplements. Take the supplements as indicated to get the needed daily dose. This option is the least pleasing since most people would rather eat a healthy diet to get the needed fiber.
2. Omega 3 Fatty Acid rich foods
Fish contains omega 3 which is good for the heart. You can include these fishes in your diet – mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, tuna, salmon, and halibut. To make sure that you don’t ingest unhealthy fats, you can grill or bake these fishes. Eating in moderation is the key. You can eat fish at least 2-3 times weekly.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also found in canola oil and ground flaxseed. Studies reveal that these fatty acids can prevent abnormal rhythms of the heart.
Eating nuts every day is great for fighting bad cholesterol. However, it is important that you avoid sugar-coated and salted nuts. Stick with the plain nuts like pistachio, walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts, and almonds.
Since nuts contain high calories, you need to limit your consumption to about a handful daily, which is about 42.5 grams or 1.5 ounces. It is easy to gain weight if you eat too many nuts but if you know the limitations, you can maintain an ideal weight.
4. Certain oils
Olive oil is very popular among health-conscious individuals because it is rich in antioxidants. It is good for getting rid of the bad cholesterol but you should limit it to about 23 grams or two tablespoons. Instead of using other fats, olive oil is an ideal substitute. The extra virgin is highly recommended.
You can also use vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower, and canola instead of using shortening, lard, or butter.
5. Stanols or sterols fortified foods
Stanols or sterols are substances that can block cholesterol absorption and these are usually found in plants. Some foods like yogurt drinks, orange juice, and margarines may contain added sterols. The limit is 2 grams of these substances to be eaten every day. The good news is that these substances don’t target the good cholesterol (HDL or high density lipoprotein).
These are the top foods that lower cholesterol. The lifestyle choices of many people affect cholesterol levels. Hence, you should be willing to make changes. For instance, saturated fats can boost the LDL level in your bloodstream. You need to cut back on certain dairy products, milk, and red meat because these foods contain saturated fats. A better way is to eat lean beef, skim milk or low fat milk, vegetable oil margarine or olive oil, and baked fish.
You can also need to avoid Trans fats. There are now trans-fat free foods in the market, so be sure to check on the labels when you’re shopping.
It is not enough that you eat the right kinds of foods in the right amount. If you truly want to fight bad cholesterol and have a healthy heart, you need to combine proper diet and exercise. Monitoring your weight is important. Obesity is a great problem and if you are obese, you are more prone to heart diseases or illnesses. You need to lose weight if you are overweight.
Lowering cholesterol is a never ending fight. You need to start now because you can never really tell what’s going to happen if bad cholesterol continues to climb up. Since changing eating habits is hard to do, you can introduce the alterations gradually. You must learn to eat healthy if you want to maintain a healthy heart.
You don’t need to be a vegetarian to lower cholesterol. As long as you eat the foods mentioned above, you can significantly lower bad cholesterol levels. Well of course, it would also help if you have a list of the foods that you must avoid. Some foods that increase LDL were enumerated earlier but there are still more that you might not even be aware of. Check with your doctor if you suspect that you have high cholesterol levels. That way, you can prevent heart diseases and be healthy.
A cholesterol-lowering diet is not easy to follow. Your body is designed to resist change. Once you introduce changes, you will always experience food cravings. This is normal but once your body gets used to eating healthy, you will be able to live a better life.
Start with a lifestyle check. This will help you in identifying the foods that increase cholesterol levels. You should be willing to maintain an ideal weight. Aside from that, you should also be open to making changes in your diet. If you don’t exercise, now is the perfect time to start a routine workout. With these things, you can have a healthy heart and body.