Cholesterol is one of the biggest problems we face on a daily basis. According to the American Heart Association, one in three Americans has high cholesterol. That’s a high percentage, and we ought to do something about it. Now, before we get to the low cholesterol diet, we must stress that cholesterol is something we produce naturally. In fact, our bodies produce 75% of the cholesterol in our blood. The problem happens when we make up for the remaining 25% by consuming high cholesterol foods. Following a low cholesterol diet can help you lower your cholesterol by 10% to 15%.
Bad things happen when cholesterol gets out of balance, e.g., stroke, heart attack, heart disease, and things like that. In addition to following a diet, you should also try to get about 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. That being said, let’s focus on your diet today.
Foods to avoid
Before we get to the foods you should eat for your low cholesterol diet, first we have to take a look at the foods you should avoid. All of them will vastly increase your cholesterol levels:
- Animal products high in saturated fat, like veal, pork, lamb, beef
- Hard margarines
- Goose fat
- Full fat cheese, cream, yogurt, and milk
- Coconut and palm oils
- Fried foods
- Simple sugars founds in cakes, candies, and soft drinks
- Foods made out of any of the products listed above
That being said, it is time to check the foods that naturally lower your cholesterol.
When you want to lower your cholesterol, the simplest way to do that is to change your morning routine. The best breakfast is oats. Combine it with fruit like berries, and you have a potent breakfast packed with healthy nutrients and benefits. Oats lower bad cholesterol (LDL) in just 1½ months.
Earlier on, I said that the key to the low cholesterol diet is consuming foods that are low in fat. And now, I say that salmon and fatty fish are great for lowering cholesterol. The trick is that salmon is rich in good fats, or omega-3 fatty acids. You can think of them as the natural health wonders of the world. In addition to salmon, you should also consume sardines and herring.
There is no better snack for lowering cholesterol than nuts. All nuts are good, but walnuts show the best results. You can also try some almonds and cashews. However, I must stress that you should practice portion control. You can consume about 2 ounces of nuts per day at the maximum. They are very high in calories, and I’m sure you don’t want to gain extra weight!
There is probably no better thing you can eat for your heart than beans. And the best part is that you can add beans to almost everything. Be it soups, stews, or some salads, beans make a great addition to any dish. You can even consume them as a side dish to meat. Beans are extremely rich in fiber, which slows the rate your body absorbs cholesterol.
Yes, you can even consume chocolate to lower your cholesterol. The trick is to eat dark chocolate, which is a powerful antioxidant. Dark chocolate contains a high amount of cocoa powder, which increases your HDL, the good cholesterol.
The king of superfoods, garlic has numerous health benefits. Garlic not only lowers cholesterol, but this veggie also prevents blood clots and reduces your blood pressure. And the best part is that garlic stops cholesterol from getting to a critical phase by stopping artery-clogging plaque at the earliest stage.
If you ever needed an excuse to drink red wine, this is it. Red wine is made out of red grapes, which are one of the best fruit sources of antioxidants. However, as with nuts and chocolate, the key is in portion control. That means no more than a glass or two per day.
Olive oil has become one of the most popular cooking oils in the past several years. And there’s a good reason for that: olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which are key to lowering LDL cholesterol. In addition, olive oil has many other ingredients that improve your heart health. Not only you will lower your cholesterol, but by consuming olive oil, you’ll trim your belly fat.
All leafy green vegetables are great for lowering cholesterol. They all contain lutein, a pigment that protects your heart from heart attack and strokes. But spinach is the best of the leafy greens, as it contains the highest amount of lutein. This pigment protects your artery walls by “shrugging off” cholesterol.
We have another superfood on the list. Avocado has been dubbed “the best breakfast fruit” for a reason. If oats are a great breakfast alternative to bread, avocado is a great addition to eggs. Avocado helps in two ways. For starters, this fruit contains components that lower your bad cholesterol. But it also contains ingredients that increase your HDL, or good cholesterol. The only downside is that avocado is high in calories, which means that half an avocado per day is the most you should eat.
Tips to limit cholesterol
In addition to consuming these healthy foods, I want to give you some other tips to lower your cholesterol. Let’s check them out:
- Steam, broil, or poach your food instead of frying. When you have to fry your food, use stir-frying to lower fat.
- Instead of butter or oil, use vegetable broth in recipes. And when you need butter for creamy dishes, use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream.
- For baking recipes, substitute fruit pulp like prune purée for oil.
- Switch from whole-fat to skim or low-fat milk.
- Instead of cheese and crackers, eat edamame and nuts as snacks.
- For your salad dressings, use vinegar and lemon juice.
- Instead of ground beef, use ground turkey.
- When your dish calls for rice, use quinoa seeds instead.
- When you have friends coming over for snacks, serve them popcorns instead of tortilla chips.