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Most of the things that we know about “cholesterol” have been steered towards its bad reputation; something that is quite easy to understand because you won’t get a heart attack without having a plaque made up of hardened cholesterol, will you? But here’s the thing: some of the most important parts of a normal human body are also composed of structural cholesterol like the myelin sheath that surrounds our neurons. In addition to that, cholesterol in the diet is generally classified into two: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or “bad cholesterol” and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or “good cholesterol”. LDL is the one responsible for the clogging of blood vessels which can eventually lead to a massive heart attack or stroke if left uncontrolled. Now, our main focus here is to reduce LDL and increase/maintain HDL to reverse the negative effects of “bad cholesterol” accumulation in the body.
Although it is true that cholesterol levels in the body are controlled by a combination of heredity and negative lifestyle factors, there’s no doubt that WE still have the choice to either get a hold of it or just let our cholesterol levels eat up our chances of a healthier life little by little. The management that has been recommended by medical experts includes an active lifestyle, stress management, health education, physical consultation and, of course, low-cholesterol diet.
Healthy eating is one way of putting “bad cholesterol” at bay and aside from the typical low-cholesterol diet, there are some food items that are both low in fats and can help in reducing cholesterol levels even more. Sharpen your memory once more because you can’t afford to forget the five foods listed below that are proven to lower cholesterol.
Some people hate the taste of these little trees but if you look beyond its boring, garden-like appeal, you wouldn’t regret eating even a single serving of a freshly-picked broccoli. According to Joy Bauer’s “Food Cures: Treat Common Health Concerns, Look Younger and Live Longer”, 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber (which can be found in healthy veggies like broccoli) a day is enough to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) by up to 5%.
Soluble fiber, which can also be found in other healthy alternatives like oatmeal, raisins, Brussels sprouts, lentils and sweet potato, not only helps in flushing out bad fats and toxins from the body, it is also blocks the absorption of bad cholesterol in the digestive system, one of the reasons why soluble fiber, particularly broccoli, should top anyone’s list of cholesterol-lowering foods.
Enough of the false “seeds and nuts” misconceptions because there are more than one scientific study that can prove how beneficial these food items are in reducing the total number of cholesterol in the body.
In the same book “Food Cures”, nutrition expert Joy Bauer revealed that foods under the category “seeds and nuts” like pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are naturally rich in both plant sterols and stanols, two naturally-occurring fats that compete with cholesterol and reduce its number by almost 50%.
Food and Drug Administration, on the other hand, has recommended a handful of ‘healthy nuts’ (e.g. almonds) a day to reduce certain risks of cardiovascular diseases. Another significant study about this matter was published in Archives of Internal Medicine, confirming that those who eat 67 g a day have lower cholesterol with more HDL and less LDL, lower triglycerides (blood fats) and a reduced risk for serious heart diseases.
Not all “fatty” can be considered as bad for our health. Take “fatty fish” for example; the omega-3 fatty acids that can be found in fish like mackerel, salmon, herring and sardines have long been known for its heart-friendly effects like reduction of triglyderides/bad cholesterols and a more stable blood pressure readings. Moreover, several studies have shown that diets rich in omega-3 decrease heart disease occurrences by up to 40%. No wonder why people who have strictly followed Mediterranean-style diets and who have used olive oil in their cooking procedures are predicted to live longer that those who have adhered to the traditional high-calorie diet. Experts recommend eating at least 3 servings of fatty fish per week to get its long-lasting health benefits.
Aside from the fact that blueberries are another rich sources of soluble fibers that are known to reduce total cholesterol in significant amounts, there are other reasons why you should be guilt-free in putting those small wonders to your favorite desserts. A compound called pterostilbene that is mainly found in naturally occurring foods such as blueberries have been proven to help in reducing the total cholesterol in the body. Anthocyanins, on the other hand, are unique antioxidants found in blueberries as well and are responsible in lowering LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the body.
Another great sources of soluble fiber, whole grain foods like oatmeal can clear your blood vessels and decrease your chances of getting chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes in the long run. Five to ten grams of soluble fiber can reduce your LDL or bad cholesterol by 3% which means that if you eat oatmeal together with other rich sources of soluble fiber like apple, pears, kidney beans or banana, you’re also doubling up your body’s capability to sweep excess cholesterol out of your body.
Green, leafy vegetables like spinach are probably one of the most disliked foods in history but that won’t remove the fact that they contain essential nutrients like fiber and lutein which are not only best in battling certain diseases but also in reducing excess fats from the body. LDL or bad cholesterol is the main culprit for most cardiovascular disorders and this is the main target of the nutrients found in green vegetables, making spinach a great nutrition superstar apart from being Popeye’s favorite snack.
These are just some of the foods that effectively lower bad cholesterol levels in the body but always remember that there are more ways than one by which you can start living the healthier way. Along with a healthy diet, regular exercise and continuous motivation to live a healthier life can also help you grow better on a nutritional standpoint. We are what we eat so always be cautious in every food that you put in your mouth. In the end, healthy eating will always be one of the best choices for those who genuinely want to have a healthier and stronger heart.
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