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If your cholesterol levels have risen over the years, you may wonder if changing your diet can help. Ideally, your total cholesterol should be 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or less. But it’s the level of harmful LDL cholesterol that experts are most concerned about. Excess LDL builds up on artery walls and releases inflammatory substances that increase the risk of heart attack.
What Should We Eat To Reduce Cholesterol
“To prevent heart disease, your LDL should be 100 mg/dL or less,” says Dr. George Platsky, director of preventive cardiology at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. But many Americans have LDL levels that are less than optimal (100 to 129 mg/dL) or on the borderline (130 to 159 mg/dL).
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If you fall into one of these categories, you may be able to lower your LDL further by changing what you eat, especially if your current diet could use some improvement. But most people with elevated LDL levels also need to take cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins, says Dr. Plutsky.
Avoiding foods high in cholesterol is not the best way to lower your LDL. Your overall diet — especially the types of fats and carbohydrates you eat — has the biggest impact on your blood cholesterol levels. “As the American Heart Association points out, you’ll get the most bang for your buck by reducing saturated fat and replacing it with unsaturated fat,” says registered dietitian Kathy McManus, director of nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
That means avoiding meat, cheese, and other high-fat dairy products like butter, half-and-half, and ice cream. It is equally important to replace calories with unsaturated fats (such as those found in vegetable oils, avocados and fatty fish) instead of refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and white rice. Unlike Y fats, these starchy foods are not very filling and can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Another big problem with refined carbs? They are very low in fiber, which helps remove cholesterol from the body (see “The Fiber Factor”).
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Your body cannot break down fiber, so it passes through your body without being digested. It comes in two varieties: insoluble and soluble. High-fiber foods usually contain a mixture of the two.
Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water. Although it doesn’t directly lower LDL, this type of fiber fills you up, removes other cholesterol-raising foods from your diet, and aids in weight loss.
Soluble fibers dissolve in water and form a gel. This gel traps some of the cholesterol in your body, so it is eliminated as waste instead of entering your arteries.
Soluble fiber also binds to bile acids, which transport fat from your small intestine to the large intestine for excretion. This triggers your liver to make more bile acids – a process that requires cholesterol. If the liver doesn’t have enough cholesterol, it pulls more from the bloodstream, lowering your circulating LDL.
Healthy Recipes For A Low Cholesterol Diet
Finally, some soluble fibers (known as oligosaccharides) are fermented into short-chain fatty acids in the gut. These fatty acids can also inhibit cholesterol production.
The following 11 foods are good sources of fiber or unsaturated fat (or both). But they are in no particular order and are just suggestions. Most whole grains, vegetables and fruits are good sources of fiber. And most nuts and seeds (and the oils made from them) provide monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.
1. Oatmeal. This whole grain is one of the best sources of soluble fiber, along with barley (“Grain of the Month,” see right). Start your day with steel-cut or old-fashioned oatmeal topped with fresh or dried fruit for some extra fiber.
2. White beans. Also called navy blue beans, this variety ranks highest in fiber content. Also try different types of beans, such as black beans, garbanzos or kidney beans, which you can add to salads, soups or chili. But avoid ready-made baked beans, which are preserved in sauces loaded with added sugar.
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3. Avocado. Avocado’s creamy, green flesh is not only rich in monounsaturated fat, but also contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. Enjoy this fruit chopped, dipped or mashed in salads and spread on slices of whole grain toast.
4. Eggplant. Although not everyone’s favorite, this deep purple vegetable is one of the richest sources of soluble fiber. One idea: Roast or grill whole eggplant until soft and use the flesh in a Middle Eastern dip called baba ghanush.
5. Carrots. Raw baby carrots are a tasty and convenient snack – and they give you a decent dose of insoluble fiber.
6. Nuts. Among nuts, almonds have the highest fiber content, although other popular varieties such as pistachios and pecans lag behind. Walnuts have the added benefit of being a good source of polyunsaturated, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids.
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7. Kiwi fruit. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to peel these fuzzy, brown fruits. But to avoid the skin, cut one in half and scoop out the insides with a spoon for an easy, high-fiber, sweet snack.
8. Berries. Because these fruits are packed with tiny seeds, their fiber content is higher than other fruits. Raspberries and blackberries provide the most, but strawberries and blueberries are also good sources.
9. Cauliflower. This cruciferous vegetable not only provides fiber, but can also serve as an alternative to white rice. Simply grind or whiz in a food processor until it resembles rice, then mix with a little olive oil.
10. Soy. Eating soybeans and foods made from them, such as soy milk, tofu, and tempeh, were once thought to be a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Later analyzes have shown that the effect is modest at best. Still, protein-rich, soy-based foods are preferable to hamburgers or other red meat.
Ways To Reduce Cholesterol Naturally
11. Salmon. Likewise, eating cold-water fish like salmon twice a week can lower LDL by replacing meat and providing omega-3 fats. Other good fish options include chunks of lightly canned tuna and canned sardines.
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Foods That Lower Cholesterol
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Managing Your Cholesterol provides up-to-date information to help you or a loved one keep cholesterol under control. The report states what y and uny cholesterol levels are and offers specific ways to keep cholesterol in line. It covers cholesterol testing and the genetics of cholesterol. The report also focuses on treatments based on the latest scientific evidence, including the pros and cons of statins and other drugs, and provides low prices for other substances advertised to lower cholesterol. Managing your cholesterol can also help you work with your doctor to individualize your treatment.
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Get helpful tips and guidance on everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diet for weight loss…from exercise to cataract treatment advice. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from experts at Harvard Medical School. How to Lower Cholesterol Levels Naturally last updated – June 20, 2020, 6:20 pm ISTS Share fbsharewsharepinshare Comments (0 )
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in the blood and builds up healthy cells in your body. But if cholesterol increases, it can cause various heart diseases. When your cholesterol is high, the arteries constrict blood flow, which is the root cause of all coronary heart disease. One of the main causes of cholesterol problems is poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle. However, there are several foods that can help you lower cholesterol naturally. It is important to limit junk and fatty foods. Diet plays an important role in lowering cholesterol levels in one’s body. People with high cholesterol should avoid baked goods, dairy products
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