Cell membranes in the body rely on cholesterol to function. Cholesterol is located in the
blood as a steroid fat. If your cholesterol levels become too high, you are at risk of having a stroke or heart attack. There are a number of healthy foods that can help lower cholesterol levels. Since food choices and lifestyle impact people differently, it is a good idea to purchase a Cholesterol Test Kit in order to keep track of your cholesterol levels and find out what food and lifestyle choices are best for you. Here is a list of cholesterol lowering foods that may help.
What to Eat in a Low Cholesterol Diet
Low-density lipoprotein or LDL is undesirable cholesterol that can cause problems. Ingestion of foods containing soluble fiber helps to reduce LDL absorption in your body. Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber along with barley, kidney beans, apples, prunes and pears.
How to Eat: The amount of soluble fiber that should be consumed day is at least 5-10 grams. 6 grams of fiber can be found in just 1 ½ cups of oatmeal and you can add extra 4 grams by eating fruits such as a banana. Steel-cut oat bran or oatmeal cold cereal is another great option to include in a low cholesterol diet.
Fatty fish are filled with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart, help reduce your risk of getting blood clots and keep your blood pressure in check.
How to Eat: It is recommended by the American Heart Association to eat a minimum of 2 servings of fish each week, such as lake trout, herring, albacore tuna, sardines, mackerel, halibut and salmon. Grilled or baked fished is great for your low cholesterol diet because it keeps from adding additional fats.
Nuts contain a high level of healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids and are known to help your blood vessels to stay healthy. Nuts such as pistachio, walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts pecans, peanuts and almonds can help lower your risk of getting heart disease.
How to Eat: Just a handful of nuts is all you need, about 42.5 grams, as eating too many can cause you to gain weight. Replacing foods that are high in saturated fats, such as croutons, meat or cheese with nuts is a healthy alternative for your low cholesterol diet.
4. Olive Oil
The antioxidants found in olive oil are effective in lowering your LDL levels while leaving your healthy cholesterol, called HDL, alone. Just 23 grams of olive oil as a replacement for other fats can deliver healthy benefits to your heart.
How to Eat: Add olive oil in your low cholesterol diet by adding it into homemade salad or marinade, substituting butter when basting meats and using it as a dip for bread. Take care not to go over the recommended serving to avoid gaining weight. Extra-virgin olive oil is the healthiest option.
Benecol and Take Control are two brands of margarine that help to reduce your cholesterol count by blocking the ability of your body to absorb it. Both of these brands are made with plant sterols, which are known to reduce cholesterol by up to 14%. The American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program also recommends them.
How to Eat: 2-3 servings of either of these brands are recommended daily. Try spreading margarine on a bagel or toast. Eat extra vegetables to make sure that your beta-carotene absorption levels do not drop.
A cup of tea is an excellent source of antioxidants which helps to prevent blood clots and keep your blood vessels healthy. A key antioxidant found in tea, known as flavonoids, helps to reduce the buildup of plaque within the arteries caused by LDL oxidation. Antioxidants can also assist with keeping blood pressure from becoming too high.
How to Eat: Tea can be enjoyed either iced or hot and should be consumed at least once a day. A cup of black or green tea contains more antioxidants than vegetables or fruits.
7. Black Chocolate
Chocolate, especially dark or bittersweet, contains antioxidants that can help keep your heart healthy by reducing clogging in the arteries and preventing platelets from sticking together. Dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than milk chocolate; and white chocolate does not contain antioxidants.
How to Eat: One high-oxidant type of chocolate is a Mars Dove bar, which contains only 2.6 grams of fat and 42 calories in each piece. It is recommended to eat an ounce of chocolate every day as part of your low cholesterol diet.
8. Skim Dairy & Lean Meat
Consuming lean meat and skim dairy products rather than regular ones is helpful in reducing your risk of high cholesterol levels, heart problems and overweight.
How to Eat: Lean meats such as poultry or fish are less likely to increase your cholesterol levels. Instead of using ground beef for burgers, try ground turkey. Whether you are eating lean or red meat, be sure to cut off any fat on it.