The body already produces cholesterol on its own; this vital fat is essential to the proper function of cell membranes. However, consuming foods and drinks high in cholesterol give the body more than it needs, which poses an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and other ailments. The degree to which foods high in cholesterol raise blood cholesterol varies from person to person, but everyone can benefit from a balanced diet paired with daily exercise to maintain healthy levels. Some foods not only assist in lowering bad LDL cholesterol but also leave the good HDL cholesterol unaffected.
Rich in unsaturated fats, almonds work hard to raise healthy HDL cholesterol while lowering unhealthy LDL cholesterol. They also make LDL less likely to oxidize, which helps prevent build-ups in the arteries and restricted blood flow to the heart. When you snack on almonds, though, beware of their high calorie count.
Orange juice does great things for the body. Certain brands have a lot of phytosterols, plant-derived compounds known for lowering LDL cholesterol. Sterol-fortified margarine, soymilk, milk, cheese, and bread also have similar effects. An 8-ounce glass of OJ has healthy benefits, but it is important to check with a doctor to ensure the juice does not interfere with medications. Also check with your doctor if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, as fruit juice can raise blood sugar levels.
This miracle oil will increase the good and decrease the bad -- all thanks to an abundance of antioxidants and healthy monounsaturated fats. Olive oil is also rich in phenols, plant substances that lower the risk of blood clots. If you need to adjust your diet, consider substituting two tablespoons of olive oil each day in place of another fat.
Steaming vegetables enhances a vegetable's ability to bind to bile acids in the gut. Bound bile acids use up more cholesterol to produce bile, leaving fewer harmful fats floating around in your bloodstream. This is not just true for asparagus. Okra, carrots, beets, green beans, eggplants, and cauliflowers are all a bit more heart-healthy after a quick steam.
There is a reason breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Kickstarting your morning with a bowl of warm oatmeal incorporates some healthy elements into your diet, first thing. Whole grains are an ideal source of soluble fiber, and oats top the list. Soluble fiber is a gel that prevents cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Eat anywhere from five to ten grams of soluble fiber each day -- at least one and a quarter cups of oatmeal -- to combat bad cholesterol. Adding toppings like chopped apples can further increase the fiber in your first meal.
Pinto beans also contain a lot of soluble fiber. Simply adding a half cup of pinto beans daily can slow cholesterol absorption. Chili, tacos, and other traditional Mexican foods taste delicious with the healthful addition of pinto beans. If using canned instead of fresh beans, be sure to rinse them well to wash away the excess sodium.
Blueberries are a nutritional superstar, and these benefits extend to cholesterol. The berries reduce levels of artery-clogging LDL, which may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Consume them frozen, freeze-dried, or fresh, and you are on your way to becoming healthier.
Kick unhealthy LDL cholesterol to the curb with lycopene-rich tomatoes. Lycopene not only lowers bad LDL cholesterol, but it may also modestly increase beneficial HDL cholesterol. Eat at least 25 milligrams of tomato products a day for several weeks to reap the benefits.
Avocados are full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats -- the same fats that are in olive oil. Eating avocados may slowly lower LDL cholesterol and boost HDL cholesterol. Avocados also may reduce blood triglycerides. You can mash the creamy, mild treat into guacamole or spread it on a cracker, slice it onto sandwiches, or stir it into salads.
Chocolate lovers everywhere, rejoice! In small doses, chocolate can be healthy for your heart. Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids, antioxidants that help lower bad cholesterol. Moreover, dark chocolate contains those beneficial monounsaturated fats. Always check the labels, though. For real benefits, ensure the chocolate is at least 70% cocoa. Otherwise, the snack contains too few healthy oleic acids for full benefits. Most people can benefit from up to one ounce of dark chocolate each day.
Barley offers a big boost to your nutrient intake with generous amounts of antioxidants and magnesium. Studies show that barley's soluble fiber promotes digestive health while reducing the absorption of bad cholesterol. All that fiber can help you feel full and reduce hunger and cravings. Hulled barley is the healthiest kind and is considered a whole grain that can lower the likelihood of heart disease and other chronic conditions. Pearl barley is more commonly available and a healthy choice, as well. The popular cereal grain is easy to eat and can be used for soups, stews, snacks, and cereal bars.
Eggplant is an excellent source of fiber, folic acid, and magnesium. Low in calories and rich in vitamins, eggplant juice has proven to lower bad cholesterol in recent studies. This nutrient-dense food has just 25 calories per 100 grams, and as long as it isn't covered in oil, it makes for a healthy meal. Eggplant dip, roast, pasta, and casserole are great ways to get more nutrients while controlling cholesterol levels. Eggplant also contains chlorogenic acid to aid the immune system.
Pectin is a natural fiber found in the peel and pulp of certain fruits. It's a favorite of jam and jelly makers, as heating pectin with a liquid causes it to thicken and form a gel. Some fruits, such as apples, pears, and plums, have higher pectin levels than others. The peels and pulp of citrus fruits also contain high amounts of pectin. Studies show that a rise in pectin consumption lowers total cholesterol. At least five servings of fruit a day, especially the high-pectin kinds, can bring down bad cholesterol and maintain adequate nutrient levels.
Soy products made from high-protein soybeans include tofu, edamame, tempeh, and miso. Soy protein has only a small amount of saturated fat, as well as lots of fiber to aid digestion and lower the chance of cardiovascular disease. Research demonstrates that 25 grams of soy protein each day can lower LDL cholesterol by 3 to 4 percent. This helps prevent cholesterol from clogging up the arteries; switching to soy-based proteins even a few times a week can make a difference in your diet.
Fish is a fantastic source of protein with lower fat content than other animal meat. Even fatty types of fish have health benefits thanks to an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids. These good fats are better for you than the unhealthy saturated fat in the majority of meat products. Salmon, tuna, and trout are a few examples; the healthy fats in these foods lower triglycerides and promote a healthy heart. Experts recommend enjoying baked or grilled fatty fish twice a week. Good choices are wild-caught salmon and sardines, as they're less likely to contain high levels of heavy metals relative to larger fish.
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