The Best Diets To Lower Your Cholesterol
To help reduce high cholesterol levels and improve heart health, Dawn Jackson Blatner RDN,nutritionist partner at Daily Harvest and author of The Superfood Swap, says to focus on foods that are high in fiber along with plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, healthy fats, and whole grains. There are two eating plans that experts typically recommend:
Are You Serious About Reducing Cholesterol
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Apples Citrus And Berries
Fruit is included as part of any heart-healthy eating pattern, and for good reason. Many fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. Pectin, a specific type of soluble fiber found in many fruits, including apples, citrus fruits, and berries, helps lower cholesterol in part by decreasing the amount of cholesterol made by the liver.
One small clinical trial of 40 adults found that those who ate two apples per day for eight weeks had lower LDL and total cholesterol levels compared with the control apple beverage.
Antioxidant compounds called polyphenols found in these fruits also provide anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol and preventing it from being oxidized.
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Is Dietary Cholesterol Harmful
Research has shown that dietary cholesterol does not significantly impact cholesterol levels in your body, and data from population studies does not support an association between dietary cholesterol and heart disease in the general population .
Though dietary cholesterol can slightly impact cholesterol levels, this isnt an issue for most people.
In fact, two-thirds of the worlds population experience little or no increase in cholesterol levels after eating cholesterol-rich foods even in large amounts .
A small number of people are considered cholesterol non-compensators or hyper-responders and appear to be more vulnerable to high-cholesterol foods.
However, hyper-responders are thought to recycle extra cholesterol back to the liver for excretion .
Dietary cholesterol has also been shown to beneficially affect the LDL-to-HDL ratio, which is considered the best indicator of heart disease risk .
While research shows that its unnecessary for most people to avoid dietary cholesterol, keep in mind that not all cholesterol-containing foods are healthy.
Here are 7 healthy high-cholesterol foods and 4 to avoid.
Here are 7 high-cholesterol foods that are incredibly nutritious.
Does Cinnamon Lower Cholesterol
There’s little evidence that cinnamon can lower your cholesterol, so cinnamon isn’t recommended to treat high cholesterol. Although some cholesterol-lowering effects have been seen in animal studies, there’s little evidence that this applies to humans. Most of the trials have shown no effect on blood cholesterol.
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Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol can increase your levels of triglycerides. Along with LDL cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides raise your risk of heart disease.
Excess alcohol consumption also increases blood pressure and can lead to obesity both additional risk factors for heart disease.
To reduce the risk of heart disease and other risks from alcohol, limit your intake to no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 drinks per day.
Nuts Especially Almonds And Walnuts
Nuts are another exceptionally nutrient-dense food.
Theyre very high in monounsaturated fats. Walnuts are also rich in the plant variety of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat associated with heart health .
Almonds and other nuts are particularly rich in L-arginine, an amino acid that helps your body make nitric oxide. This, in turn, helps regulate blood pressure .
Whats more, nuts provide phytosterols. These plant compounds are structurally similar to cholesterol and help lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption in your intestines.
Calcium, magnesium and potassium, also found in nuts, may reduce blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease.
In an analysis of 25 studies, eating 23 servings of nuts per day decreased bad LDL cholesterol by an average of 10.2 mg/dl .
Eating a daily serving of nuts is linked to a 28% lower risk of both fatal and nonfatal heart disease .
Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are excellent sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3s bolster heart health by increasing good HDL cholesterol and lowering inflammation and stroke risk.
In one large, 25-year study in adults, those who ate the most non-fried fish were the least likely to develop metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms that includes high blood pressure and low good HDL levels .
In another large study in older adults, those who ate tuna or other baked or broiled fish at least once a week had a 27% lower risk of stroke .
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Green Tea: Antioxidants Help Lower Ldl Cholesterol
All varieties of antioxidant-rich tea can help lower LDL. Green tea, which is particularly rich in the powerful antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate , has shown the best results. EGCG lowered LDL cholesterol levels by about 9 milligrams per deciliter in 17 trials reviewed in the International Journal of Food Science Nutrition in September 2016.
Unlike other teas, which are made from fermented leaves, green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG from being oxidized. While some studies have been done with an intake of seven or more cups a day, drinking a few cups of green tea daily should help and will keep you from getting too much caffeine. Preparing your green tea with loose tea, rather than tea bags, provides more EGCG.
Saturated And Trans Fats
Foods high in saturated and trans fats top the list of items to reduce or eliminate on a low cholesterol diet. The American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat to less than 6% of total daily calories if you need to lower cholesterol levels. Trans fats are found in margarine, baked goods, non-dairy coffee creamer, and fried foods. Saturated fats are in many common foods, so its helpful to read food labels while shopping.
Interestingly, lard, which is pork fat, is lower in saturated fat and higher in monounsaturated fat than butter. It has higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. That said, it is still a middle-of-the-road choice when it comes to cooking, and whenever possible, you should opt for healthier fats like olive oil.
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Getting Accurate Test Results
Getting a cholesterol test is easy. It involves having a tubes worth of blood drawn from your arm during a routine visit to your physician. The preparation, however, takes a little effort to ensure the most accurate reading. Food and drink can affect your triglyceride level, so you should fast for 12 hours beforehand. You should also avoid drinking alcohol for at least 24 hours before the test. You can drink water and take most medications you normally use, as these should not affect the test results. If you are not sure about your medications, check with your doctor before getting the test done.
Oats And Oat Bran: Just A Little Every Day
Oats and oat bran contain beta-glucan, a water-soluble fiber that helps reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol circulating in the blood. A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in December 2014 found that a daily intake of at least 3 grams of oat beta-glucan reduces total cholesterol and cuts LDL cholesterol levels. That’s the amount in ¼ cup of uncooked oat bran or 1½ cups of cooked steel-cut oatmeal.
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Curb Cholesterol Not Flavor
Itâs no secret that certain foods can help you lower your LDL cholesterol, which causes a buildup of plaque in the arteries that leads to heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. But what may surprise you is that many of these foods are delicious and easy to incorporate into your everyday meals without sacrificing flavor or fun.
Other Ways To Lower Cholesterol
Eating a low cholesterol, heart-healthy diet is an effective way to manage cholesterol levels in the body. However, dietary changes alone may not be enough to bring cholesterol levels down to the normal range. Other non-dietary treatments for high cholesterol include:
- Regular exercise
- Cholesterol-lowering medication
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The 40 Best Foods For Lowering Your Cholesterol According To A Nutritionist
Sitting in your doctor’s office being told that you have elevated cholesterol can feel like a big blemish on an otherwise good bill of health. But you aren’t alone according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in three Americans are plagued with high cholesterol, a risk factor that significantly plays into your prospects of developing heart disease in the long run. A diet high in cholesterol can also influence your risk of stroke, but presents no signs or symptoms beforehand, which is why strokes can feel so sudden and unexplained. How can you get ahead of the curve, you might ask? It’s all about adding more foods that are rich in good sources of cholesterol not all cholesterol is the same, in fact! and finding foods that can cut how much cholesterol you’re eating elsewhere.
First, a quick explainer: Cholesterol is a waxy substance that travels through your bloodstream, but not all of it is bad. HDL cholesterol actually sweeps away LDL cholesterol, or what’s commonly referred to as the “bad” kind. A high LDL level puts you at risk for heart attacks and strokes because it can clog arteries with plaque, a condition called atherosclerosis. A blood test can determine whether you have high cholesterol, and your doctor may recommend exercise or medication in addition to a healthier diet.
When To See Your Doctor
If you have a family history of high cholesterol, and are concerned about your own levels, its a good idea to see your healthcare provider. High levels of LDL cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease. Some people have familial hypercholesterolemia , which is an inherited disorder that makes it more challenging to remove low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from your blood. This results in high LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.
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Foods To Help Lower Cholesterol
You can increase your HDLs through exercise, but when it comes to your diet, there are several foods that can help with LDL reduction The key here is to reduce, replace and improvise.
Soluble fiber is a gummy fiber that binds to bile and removes it with your bodys waste. For every 1 gram of soluble fiber you eat, you can lower your LDL by 1%. Replacing foods high in saturated fat with mono- and polyunsaturated fats can also help reduce LDL in your body. Its important to find small ways of building these foods into your diet, like swapping out cheese on a salad with avocado slices or replacing a creamy dressing with olive oil and vinegar.
Foods Fortified With Plant Sterols And Stanols
Plant sterols and stanols are compounds naturally found in small amounts in many plant-based foods, including grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. They help reduce cholesterol by blocking the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream.
Many food manufacturers are adding plant sterols and stanols to their products, ranging from margarine and cheese to orange juice and bread. You can also find plant sterols and stanols in supplement form. When taken at two grams a day, plant sterols or stanols can lower LDL cholesterol levels by 8% to 10%.
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Foods That Help Lower Your Cholesterol
From chocolate and red wine to beans and legumes, food and drink can help you get your cholesterol levels down.
My patients often ask me if there are any foods that can help with reducing high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This is the so-called “bad” cholesterol that can cause plaque to form in your coronary artery walls, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. My answer is a qualified “yes,” since high LDL can be the result of many factors, including poor genes, obesity, and lack of exercise. For this reason, not everyone will react to dietary changes the same way, and optimal LDL levels are different for every individual.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body uses to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest food. At normal levels, its essential for health, but if the concentration in the blood becomes too high, LDL, the so-called “bad” cholesterol can build up in your arteries forming plaques that put you at risk for cardiovascular disease, including chest pain , heart attack, and stroke.
Frequently, too much LDL is the result of a diet rich in saturated fats and trans fats . Eliminating these foods from your diet is a good first step in improving your LDL. Then try adding some or all of the following LDL-lowering foods every day. If you’re already on a statin, dietary changes may help you reduce your dosage, but never reduce or stop taking a statin drug without first consulting your doctor.
Which Foods Can Lower Cholesterol Quickly
No single food is going to change your cholesterol levels overnight. It can take months to see lower cholesterol levels through dietary changes alone or combined with physical activity. Focus on an overall heart-healthy diet by including foods high in fiber, healthy unsaturated fats, and antioxidants.
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Eggs Dairy Products And Alternatives
Because egg yolks and whole-milk dairy products contain high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, you will want to strictly limit or even avoid them completely. Plant-based alternatives are beneficial, and they are delicious. Try them: Youll be pleasantly surprised.
- Almond milk, no sugar added
- Buttermilk, nonfat varieties only
- Cashew milk, no sugar added
- Cheese, nonfat varieties only
- Coconut milk, no sugar added
- Coconut yogurt, no sugar added
- Condensed milk, nonfat varieties only
- Dairy-free creamer, no sugar added
- Dairy-free ice cream, no sugar added
- Eggs, whites only
- Evaporated milk, nonfat varieties only
- Greek yogurt, nonfat varieties with no sugar added
- Hazelnut milk, no sugar added
- Hemp milk, no sugar added
- Macadamia nut milk, no sugar added
- Milk, nonfat only
- Oat milk, no sugar added
- Pea-protein based milk like Ripple, no sugar added
- Rice milk, no sugar added
- Sour cream, nonfat only
- Soy yogurt, no sugar added
- Walnut milk, no sugar added
- Yogurt, nonfat varieties with no sugar added
What Are The Risks Linked To High Cholesterol
Too much LDL cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart and blood vessel disease .
The excess LDL cholesterol leads to fatty deposits called plaque forming in the artery walls. Over time, the plaque causes narrowing and hardening of the arteries .
This can lead to:
- Angina when plaque builds up in the major arteries that supply your heart, known as the coronary arteries, they become narrower and are partially blocked, reducing blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart. This may cause shortness of breath and chest pain.
- Heart attack if a plaque in a coronary artery bursts , a clot may form and block the supply of blood to the heart, starving it of oxygen.
- Stroke if the blood vessels that supply the brain become narrower or blocked by plaque, blood supply to the brain can be severely reduced or cut off, causing a stroke. Strokes can also be caused when a clot from another part of the body travels through the blood and lodges in an artery in the brain.
- Peripheral vascular disease this usually affects the arteries that supply the legs and feet, causing leg pain when walking , and even pain when resting, when the circulation is more badly affected
A high level of HDL cholesterol is good because HDL cholesterol helps remove other forms of cholesterol from the blood, taking them back to the liver where they’re removed from the blood and passed out of the body.
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Low Cholesterol Food Shopping List
This extensive list of cholesterol lowering foods includes items that contain little or no cholesterol, saturated fat, and/or trans fat such as hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil. All three of these substances can increase your blood cholesterol. Additionally, youll find foods that are high in soluble fiber, which binds to cholesterol particles inside the small intestine and prevents it from working its way into your bloodstream.
Since poultry with skin and fatty cuts of meat contain high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, youll want to avoid these completely. The good news is that there are many lean meats available, should you decide to include them in your diet. Check labels to ensure that the meats you choose are at least 96% fat free, and be sure to trim any visible fat before cooking. Pay close attention to serving sizes, and aim for no more than five ounces of fish- or animal-based protein per day.
- Antelope, lean cuts
- Pork tenderloin, preferably heritage and/or pastured
- Turkey breast, skinless
- Venison, lean cuts
How The Fat You Eat Affects Cholesterol Levels
The relationship between the fat we eat and our health, particularly our cardiovascular health, has been hotly debated for many years.
Heres what you need to know:
Not all fats are created equally.
The kinds of fat you eat matter more than the amount.
There are different types of fats in our diet:
Polyunsaturated fats: essential and important nutrients
Monounsaturated fats: can come from plant or animal products and are generally considered healthy
Saturated fats: less healthy than mono- and polyunsaturated fats
Trans fats: unhealthy fats
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