93 million Americans over the age of 20 have high cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a cause for health concerns. However, it's even more worrisome when your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) levels are higher than high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL cholesterol). High LDL cholesterol can cause high blood pressure, stress, and cardiovascular disease over the long term.
One of the primary causes of high cholesterol is the foods we eat. Unhealthy diets can cause inflammation, digestive issues, or other problems associated with high LDL cholesterol. Just like diet can cause these issues, it will be what gets you out.
We must fight fire with fire! The foods we eat can heal some of the damage we cause. They can even bring the balance back to your triglyceride levels. Here are the 10 best foods for lower cholesterol!
When making dietary changes, a lot of people make the mistake of cutting out fat. Fats are our friends. They contain amino acids that are the foundation for all of our cells. It's the quality of your fats that matters!
Research indicates that people with high LDL cholesterol tend to consume more saturated fats. These are slower for our body to break down. They also make a great barricade between LDL cholesterol and receptors in our livers that help regulate our cholesterol levels.
Eating foods high in monounsaturated fats, like avocados, naturally lowers LDL cholesterol by 6% to 10%. One study on avocados' heart health benefits found that one of these fruits per day can improve cholesterol levels.
Whole grains are excellent for regulating your heart health because they are rich in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber keeps our plumbing going so we can remove excess cholesterol from the system.
Unfortunately, many whole grains contain gluten. Gluten is one of the top inflammatory foods in the world. This carbohydrate triggers our bodies to produce zonulin.
Zonulin is a hormone that regulates our intestines. When zonulin is present, tight junctions along our gut barrier widen in anticipation of nutrients leaving the intestines and entering the bloodstream.
Eating gluten-based foods that are highly processed opens up our intestine barricade unnecessarily. It leaves the body prone to toxins and undigested food particles to cause inflammation. So, we must limit our gluten intake and ensure that the foods we eat that contain gluten are nutrient-dense.
Oats are a naturally gluten-free source of dietary fiber. In particular, they contain a lot of beta-glucans. Studies on beta-glucans find that these fibers particularly influence LDL cholesterol.
As we digest beta-glucans, "they are able to interact with lipids and biliary salts in the bowel and consequently reduce cholesterol levels." Scientists believe that these interactions cause a change in gut bacteria that ultimately influence how we metabolize cholesterol.
3. Dark Chocolate
Indulge in some dark chocolate to improve your heart health. These decadent treats contain a lot of flavanols. Flavanols are what give cacao its bitter bite. They are also booming with antioxidants.
Antioxidant-rich flavonols help heal the damage caused by inflammation. They also mediate immune responses. That way, you are less likely to experience chronic inflammation. Research shows that chronic inflammation is closely tied to high levels of LDL cholesterol.
Additionally, dark chocolate helps preserve the integrity of the LDL cholesterol in your blood. When LDL cholesterol oxidizes, it causes oxidative stress to neighbor cells.
Dark chocolate helps LDL cholesterol maintain its integrity to prevent oxidation. Then, our body can process the cholesterol when it's ready without the risk of damaging cells.
Next time you're making sauce, be generous with the garlic. While your spouse might not thank you when you go in for a kiss, your heart will!
As you chop garlic, it releases allicin. It's a sulfur-based molecule that gives this savory herb its pungent aroma. Allicin can prevent the growth and development of cholesterol.
A controlled study looked at the effects of allicin on atherosclerosis, a disease commonly caused by high cholesterol. Results found that garlic supplements had improved "blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose levels and caused a significant decrease in lowering the hepatic cholesterol storage" compared to those who took a placebo.
These findings are interesting because garlic doesn't just help with the current damage caused by high LDL cholesterol. Regular garlic consumption might prevent future imbalances.
5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy heart powerhouse that can be used in a variety of ways. Switch up your sugar-laden salad dressing with EVOO and vinegar, or make a veggie stir-fry over medium heat with some olive oil. You're going to want to when you learn how it can help with your cholesterol!
Cardiovascular disease caused by issues like high cholesterol is the number one cause of death. Humans who live the longest tend to follow a Mediterranean Diet. Extra virgin olive oil is a staple in this cuisine.
Extra virgin olive oil is a delicious source of monounsaturated fatty acids. As we discuss, monounsaturated fatty acids help offset a diet that has too much saturated fat.
Also, olive oil has an abundance of polyphenols. These plant-based compounds have strong antioxidant properties. In particular, olives have a uniquely high amount of oleuropein.
Oleuropein is known to be a strong vasodilator. While this sounds like a Terminator character, vasodilators actually relax your blood vessels. This reaction is beneficial for those who have hypertension.
Relaxed blood vessels can make it through clogged arteries more efficiently. This increase in blood flow helps wash out cholesterol and break up plaques while giving the heart a better workout!
Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are an excellent meat substitute. They have a substantial amount of protein. Plus, they take on the flavor of whatever you cook them in. They're a great cardio-friendly alternative for beef tacos on Taco Tuesdays!
These legumes contain an adequate amount of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber soaks up water in the intestines. That makes it harder for the body to absorb fats and cholesterol.
Plus, dietary fiber serves as food for probiotic bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria help digest food, support a healthy immune system, and improve our mental well-being.
If you have a sweet tooth, don't go for artificially flavored foods. Go for the fruits that candies are engineered to imitate. Berries will do your heart and tastebuds good!
Fruits are rich in antioxidants. In particular, berries have high levels o anthocyanins. The darker the berry, the more of these antioxidants that type of berry has.
Anthocyanins help with cholesterol levels in two ways. One, its presence lowers LDL cholesterol while simultaneously decreasing inflammatory biomarkers.
Secondly, anthocyanins slightly improve our HDL cholesterol levels. With more fruits in our diet, we are less likely to experience a cholesterol imbalance, even if we have a high cholesterol meal once in a while.
Whether it's fermented into tempeh, made into blocks of tofu, or turned into a miso paste, you should add more soy to your diet. A meta-analysis printed by Harvard stated, "on average, eating 25 grams of soy protein per day, over a six-week period, lowered LDL levels by about 3% to 4%."
There are many ways to incorporate soy with other cholesterol-friendly foods. A soy yogurt parfait with berries and oats is the perfect meal to start your day. Otherwise, you can make a dark chocolate latte with soymilk for a midday pick-me-up.
Soy does contain phytoestrogens. While mostly insignificant, it might have a slight impact on hormones. Eating beans, eggs, and fish can help naturally improve your testosterone levels to counteract any potential soy-based issues.
Make sure to top off your breakfast parfait with some brain-boosting walnuts. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that not only compliment the mind but they also help with cholesterol levels.
Many studies link high LDL cholesterol levels to consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6s are typically found in animal muscles and dairy. Eating walnuts for a snack can help offset that imbalance, ultimately preventing cholesterol from building up in the system.
One controlled study followed people consuming a walnut-heavy diet for 4-24 weeks. Between that time, walnuts comprised 10-24% of the subjects' caloric intake.
Compared to those who followed a placebo diet, the walnut group had a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol. Results also noted that HDL cholesterol levels were not impacted. Therefore, eating walnuts has all positive effects.
10. Fatty Fish
If there's one thing that keeps coming up in this top 10 list of foods that lower your cholesterol, it's fat. Healthy fats are essential for decreasing LDL cholesterol.
Fish an excellent source of protein. You can easily use them to replace red meat as your entree a few nights per week. This lifestyle change alone will cause LDL cholesterol levels to plummet.
Plus, fish are the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. As we mentioned with walnuts, omega-3s prevent oxidative stress caused by too many omega-6s. This stress can cause issues with our LDL receptors, which means you can end up with excess LDL cholesterol in your blood.
As much as we love fish, eating it every day can get expensive. However, taking a high-quality fish oil supplement can help reduce costs and up the heart-healthy benefits.
Nutretics' Krill Oil is made with pure Antarctic krill that is booming with omega-3 fatty acids. This proprietary formula is designed to improve the absorption of fatty acids and naturally lower cholesterol levels. It achieves this feat with the help of phospholipids.
Most brands use triglycerides in their formula to aid with absorption. However, as we already discussed, triglycerides can be challenging for the body to break down. Phospholipids are much easier for the system to digest.
In Nutretics Krill Oil, phospholipids bind to the fatty acids, creating a shield around these nutrients. Once the body breaks these fats down, the omega-3s are ready to enter the bloodstream. This unique blend allows LDL cholesterol-lowering fatty acids to bypass stomach acids for optimal absorption!
Improve Your Cholesterol Levels Today!
Managing your cholesterol can be a challenge, but it's not impossible. You must make a conscious effort to be physically active, get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, avoid stress, and eat healthy foods.
A lot of these tasks might take some work. However, the easiest to integrate is diet. You have to eat. So, make smart decisions every time you decide to make a meal or grab a snack.
Prolonging a lifestyle change will only end in poor health. Be proactive. Try making these dietary changes and using Nutretics Krill Oil to get your cholesterol levels on track!