Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver and is essential for various functions in the body, including the production of hormones, vitamin D, and digestive juices. However, high levels of cholesterol in the blood can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries. This can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.
While medication can be effective, making dietary changes is also an important step in managing cholesterol. Here are some foods you can eat to help you control your cholesterol levels.
Oats are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels by reducing the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Studies have shown consuming 3 grams of soluble fiber per day from oats can lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) by 5-10%.
Nuts are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are particularly high in these beneficial fats. However, nuts are also high in calories, so it’s important to eat them in moderation.
3. Fatty fish
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower triglycerides (a type of fat found in the bloodstream) and reduce inflammation in the body. Aim to eat fatty fish at least twice a week.
4. Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease. Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are particularly beneficial.
Soy products like tofu, tempeh, and soy milk are rich in plant-based proteins and can help lower cholesterol levels. Soy is also a good source of fiber and can be a healthy alternative to meat.
6. Olive oil
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Use olive oil instead of butter or margarine when cooking, and drizzle it over salads instead of high-fat dressings.
7. Whole grains
Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat bread are high in fiber and can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. Aim to replace refined grains like white rice and white bread with whole grains in your diet.
In addition to incorporating these foods into your diet, it’s important to limit your intake of saturated and trans fats, which can raise cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are found in animal products like meat and dairy, while trans fats are found in processed foods like cookies and crackers.
By making these dietary changes and incorporating more cholesterol-lowering foods into your meals, you can help reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health.