Lowering cholesterol levels can be a big challenge, but the benefits include a healthier heart and a decreased risk for cardiac disease and strokes. Diet can play an important role in getting heart healthy. Below are ten foods to incorporate into the diet to help lower cholesterol naturally.
An easy way to improve cholesterol levels is simply to add a bowl of oatmeal or an oat-based cereal to the breakfast menu. Even better, add some fresh fruit to it for a breakfast that is high in the soluble fiber that can help clean out the arteries and improve circulation throughout the body.
Barley and whole grain products like whole grain breads, pastas and couscous are also good for lowering cholesterol naturally. Like oats, they are very high in soluble fiber and will give the added benefit of improve digestion.
Beans are an excellent source of fiber as well. They also provide plant-based protein and are a great entree for high-protein vegetarian meals that help lower cholesterol levels by encouraging people to eat less meat. Diets high in meat are a risk factor for elevated cholesterol levels.
Okra and Eggplant
Okra and eggplant are both high in fiber, which will help clean the arteries. They also are rich in phytochemicals which are shown to improve overall health and eggplants, like beans, are another excellent source of plant-based protein.
Aside from being yet another source of vegetarian protein, most nuts are a rich source of monounsaturated fats that lower the LDL (bad) cholesterol and help increase the HDL (good) cholesterol that fights off heart disease.
Using oils like canola, safflower or sunflower oil in place of butter, lard or shortening while cooking is an excellent way to cut down on saturated fat in the diet and thus help to lower cholesterol levels and decrease risk of heart disease.
Most fruits are rich in fiber, but some fruits are particularly good for treatment of high cholesterol. These include fruits like grapes, apples, strawberries, and citrus fruits; this is because they are high in pectin, a compound also linked to lower LDL levels.
Soy proteins, found in products like tofu, edamame, and soy milk, are also potent anti-cholesterol agents. Studies have shown that consuming around 27g of soy-based protein daily can lower the cholesterol by 6% to 9% and like beans and nuts are another way to get plant-based protein in based protein in the diet.
Fatty fish like salmon are an excellent way to beat high cholesterol. They lower levels by replacing meat that is linked to increased LDL rates and it is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids which actively lower triglyceride levels in the bloodstream. It also protects the heart against arrhythmias.
If adding many of the fiber-rich foods to the diet does not seem to be enough, there is another option. Fiber-based supplements like Metamucil are based on psyllium and will provide extra artery-cleaning fiber as well as aiding in good digestion and promoting bowel regularity.
Lowering high cholesterol levels is not always easy. The good news, though, is that regular exercise, along with a diet that is rich in fiber and monounsaturated fats like those found in nuts and some oils, can help reduce these levels naturally.