Cholesterol is a fat-based substance found in the blood that is naturally produced in the body by the liver. Cholesterol can be found in both plant and animal foods. It is classified into two different types: – commonly known as good cholesterol and – commonly known as bad cholesterol.
– LDL cholesterol is thought to be bad for our bodies because it allows plaque to build up in our arteries which can result in heart attacks.
– HDL cholesterol on the other hand works to safeguard against the build-up of LDL cholesterol.
Cholesterol found in plant foods are more encouraged as they represent more HDL cholesterol rather than LDL more so found in animal foods such as red meat, milk, cheese etc.
The body uses cholesterol to ensure proper brain and neurotic development as well as to ensure hormone functioning. As important as they are however, too much cholesterol can be dangerous if not fatal.
Here are fifteen foods that will help you do just that.
These help to prevent the build–up of LDL cholesterol that later clog the arteries as well as to protect the body’s immune system against diseases.
Be careful however as avocados are also high in calories.
3. Beans and Peas
Because of the slow digestion process in having beans, they create a feeling of being fuller longer and therefore urges you to consume less thus promoting weight loss.
Beans also provide a rich supply of fibre which combines with bile salts which are later excreted from the body.
Carrots are not just good for your eyes but they are totally cholesterol-free. They also are a source of soluble fibre useful in the excretion of salts as explained earlier.
Citrus fruits e.g.: oranges, grapefruit are rich in the fibre -pectin (as are apples) and antioxidants which are good for helping the body to reduce cholesterol levels by trapping it before the body has a chance to absorb it.
6. Cooking Oil
Switch your cooking oil to more heart-healthy oils like olive oil, sunflower oil or safflower (to name a few) in order to lower overall cholesterol levels.
7. Dark Chocolate
If you’re a chocolate lover, you probably don’t need a reason to eat chocolate but I’m sure hearing that chocolate can help to lower cholesterol levels is one more reason for you to love the sweet treat.
In this case, you want to go for dark chocolate which is richer in antioxidants which helps in the fight against artery clogging. Again, watch out for that increase in calorie count.
8. Green leafy vegetables
The benefit here is twofold. Not only does the fibre help to decrease cholesterol levels by excreting them, it also promotes losing weight by promoting the excretion of fat rather than storing them in the body’s reserve.
9. Green Tea
Western University of Health Sciences researchers in a study examining the correlation between drinking green tea and resulting blood lipid levels were able to conclude that green tea does contribute to the lowering of LDL levels.
Green teas are highly recommended because they undergo minimal processing in the manufacturing process thereby ensuring its potency.
Nuts such as almond, cashew, walnuts are good sources of fibre, protein, unsaturated fats- the kind fat we are encouraged to eat- among other nutrients.
Nuts are however high in calorie and therefore should be had moderately. To lower cholesterol levels, avoid nuts that are salted.
A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed a lowered cholesterol level in its participants over the course of one month.
11. Omega 3 rich foods
Fish such as tuna, salmon sardines and mackerel (as well as plant-based foods such as nuts and seeds) are rich in oils which works to help prevent heart disease and stroke which may be caused by high cholesterol levels in the blood.
Studies conducted by the Loma Linda University in the United States of America, found that replacing saturated fats –such as those found in red meat– with omega-3 fats –such as those found in oily fish e.g. sardines –promoted an increase in HDL levels.
12. Red grapes, berries & Red Wine
If you thought the saying “a little wine is good for the heart” was just a myth made up by wine lovers, then guess again. Wines made from red/black grapes contain a substance called that acts as a cholesterol lowering agent.
It has been said that a glass of red wine after a meal rich in fat helps with the tightening of arteries that could occur after such a meal. This is by no means an invitation to ramp–up your intake of red wine.
Antioxidants received from a glass of red wine can be delivered by having grapes and other berries such as cranberries or blue berries in whatever form you like them.
Soy based foods such as soy milk, tofu, or soya beans generate nutrients such as Vitamin B, iron, calcium, protein, antioxidants and fibre which help the body to raise the level of good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol. Soy products are also cholesterol-free.
in a study examining the correlation between soy protein and cholesterol levels found marked decrease in overall cholesterol and LDL levels. His findings also revealed smaller increases in HDL levels.
Tomatoes have long been praised for their rich antioxidant nature as a result of the presence of a substance called . Through this substance, tomatoes help to lower cholesterol levels by preventing the of LDL cholesterol in the body.
15. Whole Grains
Whole grain foods such as oats, barley, cereal and wheat contain a necessary nutrient called which the body gets from external sources only. Beta glucan helps to keep the body’s immune system in shape and helps to regulate cholesterol levels by combining with LDL which is then excreted from the body.
Whole grains are also highly recommended as rich sources of fibre which helps in the fight against heart disease.
If you’re over 40, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your cholesterol levels. If you’re under forty it’s not too early to give your body a fighting chance for the years to come when cholesterol levels tend to peak.
Our bodies need cholesterol to assist in its daily functions.
In particular the body requires more HDL cholesterol and less LDL cholesterol. What steps will you take to safeguard your cholesterol levels and that family today?