Healthy diets for high cholesterol emphasize whole grains and soluble fiber. If you have high cholesterol, your food choices are the most likely cause and adjusting your lifestyle may allow you to get off your medications.
Healthy Diets for High Cholesterol
Healthy diets for high cholesterol have the potential to significantly change your LDL and HDL numbers. This article from Harvard Medical School identifies foods to add and remove from diets for high cholesterol.
Healthy Foods for Diets for High Cholesterol
Substituting healthy foods for junk foods is the goal of diets for high cholesterol. Doing this requires a two-pronged strategy: Add foods that lower LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, while at the same time cutting back on that foods that raise LDL.
How Foods Affect Diets for High Cholesterol
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which attaches to cholesterol in the digestive system and removes it from your body before it gets into circulation. Other foods contain healthy polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And still others contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.
Foods to Add to Diets for High Cholesterol Diets
1. Oats. Eating a bowl of oatmeal is a good place to start. A serving of oats supplies 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber. Yet, the average American gets only about half that amount.
2. Barley and other whole grains. Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease due to their high content of soluble fiber.
3. Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take some time for the body to digest, which will keep you feeling full for a longer time after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a helpful got weight loss. There are many to choose from: navy and kidney beans, lentils, garbanzos, and black-eyed peas. Choose a variety and add them to different meals.
4. Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are rich sources of soluble fiber.
5. Nuts. Eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can lower LDL by about 5%. Nuts also contain other heart protective nutrients.
6. Vegetable oils. Using liquid vegetable oils such as olive, canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening will help lower LDL.
7. Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.
8. Soy. Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once touted as a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Analyses show that the effect is more modest — consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day (10 ounces of tofu or 2 1/2 cups of soy milk) can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.
9. Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways. By replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.
Foods to Avoid on Diets for High Cholesterol Diets
Harmful LDL creeps upward and protective HDL levels decrease mostly because of diet and lifestyle choices. Here are four things you can change on diets for high cholesterol:
Typical sources of saturated fat include animal products, such as red meat, whole-fat dairy products, and eggs. A few vegetable oils, such as palm oil, coconut oil, and cocoa butter, also contain saturated fat. Saturated fat can increase your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. While the role of saturated fat in heart disease is currently under debate, it’s best to limit your intake of saturated-fat-rich foods.
These types of fats should be eliminated from your diet. That’s why the FDA banned trans fats from the U.S. food supply.
Trans fats are a byproduct of the chemical reaction that turns liquid vegetable oil into solid margarine or shortening and prevents liquid vegetable oils from turning rancid. These fats have no nutritional value and they are bad for heart health. Trans fats increase LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels while reducing levels of HDL “good” cholesterol.
Weight and exercise. Being overweight and not exercising affect fats circulating in the bloodstream. Excess weight boosts harmful LDL, while inactivity depresses protective HDL. Losing weight and exercising more can reverse these trends.
Recommendations for Diets for High Cholesterol
A diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts is a good healthy diet for high cholesterol. It also has other benefits in addition to lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental health.
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