Mediterranean Foods That Lower Cholesterol
Eating some of these foods each day may provide long-term benefits for your heart.
by Robin Shreeves;|; Monday, July 28, 2014
by Robin ShreevesMonday, July 28, 2014
The Mediterranean diet is rich in plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and whole grains as well as healthy fats and fish, and most experts promote it as a healthy way to eat. It is associated with reducingthe risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, Parkinsons andAlzheimers. Its also shown to lower LDL cholesterol, the cholesterol thatsbecome known as the “bad” kind. Scientific studies have shown this plant-heavy diet to lower LDL cholesterol levels by up to 35 percent in patients with mild to moderate elevated bad cholesterol.
Considering these benefits, adding foods common to the Mediterranean diet to your daily diet may make a difference in your health. Here are five foods to get you started.
Choose extra virgin olive oil over regular olive oil for extra benefits.
How Barker Lowered His Cholesterol Naturally
Steinbaum recommended that Barker first change his diet instead of immediately turn to cholesterol-lowering drugs to lower his total and LDL cholesterol levels.
So Barker traded his low-carb, high-protein eating plan for a Mediterranean-style diet.;”Before, Nigel was eating exactly what he shouldn’t have been eating for his heart health,” Steinbaum says. “But he made the decision to change, and stuck with it.”
Within a year, Barker’s total cholesterol reading dropped to a much healthier 165, and his LDL was about 100.
“He did it on his own by making healthy choices every day,” says Steinbaum.
And Barker remains committed to those heart-healthy habits. “Sometimes you need the drugs,” he says, “but we decided to try a little bit of common sense and discipline first.”
Can The Mediterranean Diet Lower My Cholesterol
A Mediterranean diet may help lower your cholesterol. Experts have noticed that people from the Mediterranean Sea regions had lower rates of heart disease. So they looked at some of their dietary patterns that might be heart healthy. The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, nuts and seeds, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It limits saturated fats and red meat.
Experts have found that a Mediterranean diet can lower total cholesterol. In some studies, they put people on a Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet. They found that total cholesterol went down more for people on the Mediterranean diet. Doctors arent sure if the cholesterol gets better because of the diet or because of the weight loss that results. Some studies found that LDL cholesterol may go down and HDL cholesterol may go up in people on a Mediterranean diet. More study is needed to understand why this might be so.
Eat like a Greek and your heart may thank you!
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How Can A Mediterranean Diet Lower Cholesterol
- High cholesterol poses a huge health risk in the form of heart disease, but usually comes with no symptoms before a catastrophic event like a heart attack occurs.
- Cholesterol is divided into two types. LDL can lead to arterial blockages while HDL helps remove excess cholesterol from arteries.
- Mediterranean diets are low in the types of food that raise LDL and high in those that promote HDL
Enjoy Lots Of Fruits And Vegetables
Studies show that adults who consume at least four servings of fruits and vegetables each day have roughly 6% lower LDL cholesterol levels than people who eat fewer than two servings per day .
Fruits and vegetables also contain high numbers of antioxidants, which prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and forming plaques in your arteries .
Together, these cholesterol-lowering and antioxidant effects can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Research has found that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables have a 17% lower risk of developing heart disease over 10 years compared to those who eat the fewest .
Summary Eating at least four servings of fruits and vegetables daily can lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduce LDL oxidation, which may reduce your risk of heart disease.
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Eat Foods Rich In Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is found in large quantities in beans, legumes, whole grains, flax, apples and citrus .
Humans lack the proper enzymes to break down soluble fiber, so it moves through your digestive tract, absorbing water and forming a thick paste.
As it travels, soluble fiber absorbs bile, a substance produced by your liver to help digest fats. Eventually, both the fiber and attached bile are excreted in your stool.
Bile is made from cholesterol, so when your liver needs to make more bile it pulls cholesterol out of your bloodstream, which lowers cholesterol levels naturally.
Regular soluble fiber consumption is associated with a 510% reduction in both total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol in as little as four weeks .
Its recommended to eat at least 510 grams of soluble fiber each day for the maximum cholesterol-lowering effects, but benefits have been seen at even lower intakes of 3 grams per day .
Summary Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol by preventing reabsorption of bile in your gut, which leads to the excretion of bile in the feces. Your body pulls cholesterol from the bloodstream to make more bile, therefore reducing levels.
How Can I Lower Cholesterol With Diet
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a diet to lower your cholesterol. The DASH eating plan is one example. Another is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, which recommends that you
Choose healthier fats.You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35% of your daily calories should come from dietary fats, and less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending upon how many calories you eat per day, here are the maximum amounts of fats that you should eat:
|Calories per Day|
|69-97 grams||17 grams|
Saturated fat is a bad fat because it raises your LDL level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
Trans fat is another bad fat; it can raise your LDL and lower you HDL . Trans fat is mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries.
Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.
Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include
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The Mediterranean Diet And Cholesterol
People whit high cholesterol levels should consider a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle that could help them control blood cholesterol.
The Mediterranean diet is not a diet per se.with this term we identify the traditional eating patterns of people living in countries bordered by the Mediterranean sea .
Research has shown that the traditional Mediterranean diet could reduce the risk of heart problem.
S To Eating Mediterranean
With Mediterranean diets becoming particularly buzz-worthy, there are many cookbooks and pre-designed meal plans available to help you get started. But you dont have to sign up for a lifetime of specifically Mediterranean cuisine to get the cholesterol-lowering benefits. Following these 5 steps will have you well on your way to reaping the benefits of Mediterranean eating.
1. Plants First
Switching to a Mediterranean diet to help lower your cholesterol doesnt mean you need to become a vegetarian, but it does involve lots of plant-based foods. This means eating main dishes that feature legumes or hearty salads that incorporate fruits, vegetables and nuts. If youre looking to drop some pounds along with improving your cholesterol score, recent studies claim that a vegetarian diet can be up to twice as effective when it comes to weight loss.
2. Less Red Meat
You dont have to cut out meat altogether, but where you get it from is an important part of a Mediterranean diet. Minimize your portions of meat, and replace red meat with fish, shellfish, or smaller portions of lean poultry. Fill in your daily protein requirements with other sources like nuts, legumes, and a moderate amount of dairy.;
3. Add Healthy Fats
4. Cut Back On Sugar
5. Make Eating Enjoyable
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Whats So Special About The Mediterranean Diet For One It Can Significantly Improve Your Heart Health
If youâre looking to improve your heart health, then the Mediterranean diet could be of interest to you. This is one of the most well-studied dietary patterns in the world â and the claim that it can help oneâs heart health has the backing of rigorous scientific research. For example, itâs now known by the medical community that the Mediterranean diet can lower lipid levels and boost your levels of the âgood cholesterol,â HDL.
So read on to learn what, exactly, this dietary pattern is all about â what it consists of and the ways it can enhance your well-being.
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Is The Mediterranean Diet A Healthy Way To Eat
Year after year, the Mediterranean diet comes out on top in the U.S. News and World Report annual ranking of best diets. A panel of experts judges various eating plans and popular diets on criteria including how healthy they are, how well they work and how easy they are to follow.
The Mediterranean diet is also touted as one of the healthiest by many health organizations and dietitians. So, does it live up to its good reputation?
The Best And Worst Foods To Eat To Lower Cholesterol And How The Mediterranean Diet Can Help You
- Foods that lower cholesterol include fresh fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and fish.
- The worst foods for high cholesterol are filled with saturated and trans fats like fried foods, baked goods, and fatty meats.
- Overall, the Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating plan that can help you lower cholesterol.
- This article was medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.
- Visit Insiders Health Reference library for more advice.
Your diet has a large impact on your cholesterol. In fact, the foods you eat can directly affect HDL and LDL levels, which are the two main types of cholesterol:
- LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is considered bad cholesterol. You want lower LDL levels, otherwise it can lead to plaque formation and build up to clog your arteries. High cholesterol defined as LDL levels above 160 mg/dl is a major risk factor for heart disease.
- HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is known as good cholesterol. You want higher HDL levels, as HDL transports LDL cholesterol from your bloodstream to your liver, where the cholesterol is cleared from the body.
A healthy diet can reduce your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol, while an unhealthy diet will raise your bad cholesterol. Heres what foods you should eat and which you should avoid if youre hoping to lower your LDL cholesterol levels.
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What Happens In The Body When You Have Dyslipidemia
If you have dyslipidemia, you may have a similar lipid profile to the following:
- Increased levels of total cholesterol in the blood
- Increased levels of low-density lipoprotein
- Increased levels of triglycerides
- Low levels of high-density lipoproteins
The LDL is referred to as bad cholesterol while the HDL is called good cholesterol. Elevated levels of LDL and triglycerides are responsible for the build-up of fat in the arteries. Over time, the fat, also known as plaque, narrows the arteries and leads to atherosclerosis . Eventually, this may lead to a heart attack, stroke or other heart diseases. The good cholesterol, on the other hand, has a protective effect. It helps to remove the build-up of plaque in the arteries. Along with regular exercise, eating a balanced diet as advised by your doctor can help you control dyslipidemia.
What Foods Lower Cholesterol
“In general, eating foods high in fiber and low in saturated fat can reduce your cholesterol,” says Shoshana Ungerleider, MD, an internist at Crossover Health in San Francisco.;
These types of foods can include:;
- Fresh fruits like apples, bananas, and berries.
- Vegetables like leafy greens, carrots, and potatoes.;
- Fish like salmon and cod.
- Whole grains like brown rice and whole-wheat bread.;
A 2019 study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that eating fish twice a week and eating “plenty of fruits and vegetables” can lower LDL cholesterol over 12 weeks.;
Moreover, a 2020 study published in the journal Lipidology found that eating fish , low-fat dairy, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables can also reduce LDL cholesterol. Specifically, eating these foods as part of the Mediterranean diet as recommended.;
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What About Other Popular Diets
You may have heard about popular diets like paleo, ketogenic , Atkins, interval, zone and Whole30. Keep in mind, not all trendy diets meet the AHAs science-based criteria for a healthy eating pattern. Some show dramatic but short-term results and are not heart-healthy.
DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, is another eating plan that aligns with AHA recommendations and has been proven to improve health. The DASH diet allows more dairy products and meat, while the Mediterranean diet includes regular use of olive oil.
How To Lower Triglycerides And Cholesterol Naturally
Your genes, diet, and lifestyle all affect your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Some people naturally produce more triglycerides and cholesterol than others. This is based on their genetics and family history. Still, these levels are just part of your overall lipid levels, and lifestyle changes are one of the best ways to keep your numbers within a healthy range.
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When To See A Doctor
Before making any dietary or lifestyle changes, a person should check with their doctor or dietitian.
Though cutting out red and processed meats, reducing calories, and increasing physical activity are generally considered healthful choices, an individuals circumstances can make the transition more complicated.
Super Foods That Help Lower Cholesterol
Rich in curcumin and other antioxidant compounds, this spice is an excellent way to lower overall cholesterol levels and increase the metabolism, which will help to burn fat and aid weight loss efforts.
As a great source of dietary fiber, sweet potatoes can help prevent excessive absorption of cholesterol from food.
One of the best foods for accessing omega-3 fatty acids, which are the good form of cholesterol. This can help balance your cholesterol levels and provide other valuable minerals and nutrients.
Rich in monounsaturated fats, avocados are some of the healthiest fruits in any diet. They have directly been linked to raising HDL and lowering LDL cholesterol levels, even if you only consume them 1-2 times per week.
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What Makes A Mediterranean Diet And Lifestyle
- Fruit and vegetables fresh, frozen, canned or dried. Aim for at least five servings every day, or more if you can, and include a wide variety. These foods are rich in essential nutrients, they are also low in calories.;
- Starchy carbohydrate foods base meals on foods such as bread, noodles, chapatti, rice, pasta and yams. Wholegrain varieties are generally higher in fibre, so they’re good for digestive health too.
- Fish white fish is low in fat and calories, so they’re helpful when managing weight. Oily fish, although higher in fat, contain essential omega-3 fats and vitamin D.;
- Nuts and nut butters choose unsalted varieties. Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats. As a guide, try to eat about 30-35g each day.
- Use oils rich in monounsaturated fats; such as olive and rapeseed oils, and spreading fats made from these.
- Try to get out in the sunshine for at least 30 minutes during the spring, summer and early autumn; apply sun tan lotion if you expose your skin to strong sunlight, if you are out for a long time or if you are very fair skinned.;
- Take a vitamin D supplement if you’re over 65, housebound or if you have little exposure to sun then it is recommended that you take a daily vitamin D supplement. 5-10mcg per day is all that you need.;
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