Getting the doctor’s report you have high cholesterol isn’t good news. While this condition is preventable to some extent, simply eating well doesn’t remove all risk. Some factors outside of your control include genetics and age. Regardless of the cause, over 30% of Americans have high cholesterol, making it an important health issue to understand. According to the CDC, “cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that travels through the blood.” Common food sources of cholesterol include meat, egg yolks, and cheese. Your body also produces cholesterol so it can create hormones and digest fatty foods. There are two types of cholesterol: LDL (the bad kind) and HDL (the good kind). HDL is good because it carries cholesterol to the liver so the body can flush it out. LDL is considered bad because too much of it begins to build up in your blood vessels and can lead to a heart attack. Aside from medication, the best way to lower your cholesterol is by focusing on a healthy lifestyle: eating well, exercising enough, and limiting how often you drink alcohol or smoke. Your diet can be a powerful tool in lowering your levels of bad cholesterol while increasing your levels of good cholesterol. Here are a few of the best foods you can eat to lower your cholesterol:
• Oats: High in fiber, a bowl of oatmeal provides about 2 grams of soluble fiber. Oats are effective at lowering cholesterol because they contain beta-glucan, which absorbs LDL. 2 servings a day for 6 weeks could lower your bad cholesterol 5%!
• Beans: Beans, lentils, and peas are fiber-dense foods. Soluble fiber works to bind acids and cholesterol in your intestines, preventing their re-absorption. Eating beans on a regular basis can lower your cholesterol by up to 10% in 6 weeks!
• Nuts: While high in fat, studies have proven 2 ounces of nuts a day can lower your LDL levels by up to 5%. Walnuts in particular are the best for achieving these results, but almonds and cashews are also good.
• Fatty fish: Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to lowering your cholesterol! They reduce triglycerides and lower overall levels of LDL. Not only that, but your levels of good cholesterol can increase up to 4%! Aside from salmon, you can get omega 3’s in trout, herring, tuna, and sardines.
• Red wine: We aren’t advocating you become a wino, but studies have shown wines made from high-fiber grapes can make a drastic impact on high levels of LDL. It works because of the resveratrol found in red, black, and purple grapes. If you aren’t into drinking, you can also get it by eating blueberries and cranberries.
• Garlic: This flavorful food helps manage cholesterol by preventing it from sticking to your arteries. Not only that, it will also help protect against blood clots and high blood pressure.
• Olive oil: Saturated fats can be culprit of high cholesterol, so using alternatives to your usual cooking fats like butter can help. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids that lower cholesterol.
• Avocado: Also high in monounsaturated fat, avocados not only help lower bad cholesterol but can increase good cholesterol. Avocados also have beta-sitosterol, a plant-based fat that limits how much cholesterol your body can absorb.
• Whey Protein: When given as a supplement, whey protein has been proven to lower LDL and total cholesterol levels. You can find whey protein in supplements and protein powders, like our 310 Shake.
• Fruits: Many fruits are high in a soluble fiber called pectin that helps reduce bad cholesterol. Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits are especially good choices. Eating a red grapefruit every day for a month can lower your cholesterol by up to 20%.
• Vegetables: There’s really never a time vegetables aren’t a good idea. Many green leafy vegetables are high in soluble fiber: eggplant, okra, spinach, and asparagus to name a few. With a list like that, there’s no excuse to not try and lower your cholesterol naturally though the foods you eat! Base your recipes around these ingredients, and see what results you can achieve.