Cholesterol is a waxy substance that comes from two sources: your body and food. Your diet is a significant factor that affects your cholesterol levels. Besides the saturated fats and trans fat known to increase the cholesterol level, a high sugar intake or diet high in carbohydrates can also increase your cholesterol level by increasing the insulin production in your body.
High cholesterol, also known as hypercholesterolemia, is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease. With a simple diet change, where some typical food are consumed, the level of bad cholesterol can be reduced or the level of the good one improved.
……..Certain factors put you at a higher risk, such as excessive smoking, obesity, large waist circumference, poor diet, lack of exercise, hypothyroidism and diabetes. Most of these factors are within your control. Genetics is one risk factor that is beyond your control.
As high cholesterol does not present any symptoms, you need to get your cholesterol levels checked from time to time.
A lipid panel test measures your total, LDL and HDL cholesterol, along with triglycerides. The CDC defines the following blood cholesterol levels as healthy:
- Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter of blood)
- LDL cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol: 40 mg/dL or higher
- Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dL
If not controlled early enough, high cholesterol can lead to health complications like chest pain, heart attacks and strokes.
By making changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can lower your cholesterol. Several foods can help keep your cholesterol at healthy levels.
Here are the top 10 superfoods to lower cholesterol.
Having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast daily is another easy way to lower your high cholesterol level. The high soluble fiber content in oatmeal helps lower LDL.
It reduces the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Fiber also fills you up quickly and helps you avoid mindless eating.
In addition, eating oats regularly is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.
- Eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast daily.
- You can also add oatmeal to smoothies or use it in baked goods.
The heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and fiber in almonds help raise good HDL cholesterol and reduce the bad LDL levels.
A 2011 study published in Nutrition Review found that consumption of tree nuts like almonds help reduce LDL cholesterol, a primary target for coronary disease prevention, by 3 to 19 percent.
In addition, a 2015 study published in the Journal of American Heart Association states that daily almond consumption may be a simple dietary strategy to prevent the onset of cardio-metabolic diseases.
Almonds are a great snack or topping for salads, cereal and yogurt. Eat a handful of almonds a dayand remember moderation is key. Other nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flaxseeds are also beneficial for reducing blood cholesterol levels.
3. Orange Juice
Sweet, tangy and juicy oranges are another superfood that has cholesterol-lowering properties.
In a 2000 study published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition journal, researchers found that orange juice improves blood lipid profiles in people who have hypercholesterolemia. This happens due to the presence of vitamin C, folate and flavonoids like hesperidin in oranges.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of orange juice daily. Freshly extracted juice is a good option. You can also drink plant sterol-fortified orange juice. Phytosterols also help lower total cholesterol to some extent.
- Alternatively, you can eat a few oranges daily.
……………10. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate can also effectively reduce bad cholesterol and improve the level of good cholesterol in the blood.
According to a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the component theobromine in dark chocolate is mainly responsible for its HDL cholesterol-raising effect.
The high level of antioxidants and flavonoids in dark chocolate prevent blood platelets from sticking together and keep the arteries unclogged. This in turn reduces the risk of heart attacks or strokes.
Eat 1 or 2 small pieces of dark chocolate with at least 60 percent cocoa on a regular basis.
- Strive to maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
- Avoid alcohol. If you drink, do so in moderation.
- Eat a diet low in saturated fats.
- Avoid fried or fatty foods and excessive carbohydrates and processed sugars.
- Avoid foods that contribute to bad cholesterol, such as red meat, full-fat dairy products, egg yolks and processed foods.
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