Heart-healthy foods to lower your cholesterol

Avocado (Polina Tankilevitch/Pexels photo)

Getting high cholesterol under control can seem like a big challenge, but there are simple steps you can take to reduce it.

Countless studies have shown that diet plays a significant role when it comes to lowering cholesterol levels.

When your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is high, it causes plaque to build up in the arteries. The buildup contributes to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

When you add cholesterol-lowering foods to your daily regimen, you reduce the chance of getting serious health conditions.

The human body already makes most of the cholesterol it needs, and the remainder of it comes from consuming food. Cholesterol is a steroid lipid fat found in your blood that helps cell membranes function properly. However, when you eat high-cholesterol foods, too much fat (hyperlipidemia) develops, resulting in higher cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol does not have to be a lifelong problem. It can be regulated and even reduced. By changing your lifestyle habits and making good food choices, you improve the chances of living a healthier life. When you raise the HDL (good fat) and reduce the LDL (bad fat), you reduce heart disease risk.

Here are some heart-healthy foods to incorporate into your daily meals:

Legumes

Legumes are ideal for lowering cholesterol naturally. They are a group of plant foods high in soluble fiber, low in glycemic index, and they contain minerals and protein. Their low glycemic index helps in lowering blood sugar. Legumes also release less insulin after eating them. Besides the other plant nutrients in legumes, they contain potassium and magnesium, two essential nutrients that lower blood sugar.

An avocado a day

Avocados are considered a heart-healthy fat food that is exceptionally nutrient-dense with no cholesterol in them. They are a source of monounsaturated fat, which is the healthy fat for reducing cholesterol. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and they’re high in fiber. The compounds in them help block the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Studies indicate that eating an avocado a day helps to lower LDL levels.

Go nuts over nuts

Nuts are an excellent healthy food choice because they provide nutrients and phytosterols.

Phytosterols are similar in structure to cholesterol and found in plant cell membranes. Nuts are healthy monounsaturated fats that help lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption in your intestines. Nuts and some seeds are a good source of protein. When you consume nuts, you improve your blood pressure and reduce inflammation.

Beneficial fatty fish

Fatty fish is a heart-healthy food and an excellent choice for reducing cholesterol. It is a source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that increases HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to lowering inflammation and the risk of stroke and heart disease. Fatty fish also lowers triglycerides, another type of fat found in the bloodstream. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, trout, sardines, and halibut are great fish choices for getting cholesterol under control.

Natural whole grains

Eliminating refined flour and replacing it with whole grains in your diet helps to lower cholesterol. By eating whole grains, you reduce the risk of diabetes and gain better control over your weight. You also benefit from the rich fiber, vitamins and minerals. Whole grains keep parts of the grain in their natural state with the outer shell, the germ that’s full of nutrients, and the endosperm, the bulk of the grain.

Fiber-rich fruits

Fruits are another heart-healthy choice for helping to lower cholesterol. Fruits like apples, grapes, strawberries, pears, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, are rich in the soluble fiber pectin. Fiber is a necessary component for lowering cholesterol because it prevents cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream.

The final word

There are plenty of great-tasting food choices loaded with vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and fiber for reducing high cholesterol. With all the great selections, you will never feel hungry or deprived.

When you incorporate heart-healthy meals into your daily routine, your diet is more balanced, and lowering high cholesterol is significantly improved.