Cholesterol is a waxy substance that tends to stick to our blood vessels and makes the blood flow difficult through the vessels. In extreme cases, when the cholesterol levels reach quite high, the blood vessels completely choke the flow of blood which leads to cardiac arrest and mostly proves fatal.
However, all cholesterol is not bad. In fact our body requires some amount of cholesterol for production of hormones and performing some other important body functions. Basically, there are two types of cholesterol – LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein).
HDL is good for our health and LDL is bad. When our blood test reveals high levels of cholesterol then it means that LDL cholesterol has become higher and hence needs to be checked. There are certain foods that can help you control cholesterol levels.
Foods that Control Cholesterol
High Fiber Foods
Fiber has proven to be highly effective in lowering bad cholesterol levels in the body. Soluble fiber especially helps in lowering bad cholesterol as it forms a gel like substance in the body and traps the bad cholesterol. Sources of soluble fiber include oats, unrefined grains, apples, beans, kidney beans, barley, prunes, bananas, etc.
Fish is good for overall health and is particularly useful in lowering bad cholesterol levels in the body. Eating fish helps in reducing atherosclerotic plaque levels, blood fats, etc. Fish contains omega – 3 fatty acids, which help in reducing high blood pressure levels and the risk of developing blood clots.
Doctors recommend eating three or more servings of fish every week. Baked or grilled fish is a healthier option as compared to fried fish as frying adds unhealthy fats to the dish. High amounts of omega-3 fatty acids are found in mackerel, trout, salmon, sardines, tuna, etc. Otherwise, any variety of local fish is also good for health.
Though nuts are high in calories but eating them in moderate quantities helps in lowering cholesterol levels and keeping blood vessels healthy. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, nuts can keep you full for longer time and also provide a host of nutrients to the body.
It is important to ensure that you eat only a handful of nuts on daily basis as overeating can lead to weight gain. It is also important to avoid salted or sugar coated nuts. Eating plain nuts in their natural form is the healthiest bet.
Olive oil is the only oil which is compressed from fresh fruit otherwise all other types of oils come from seeds. It is the only oil which contains a host of antioxidants including vitamin E and monounsaturated fatty acids that lower LDL cholesterol but does not affect HDL cholesterol.
Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest option among all the variants of olive oil but it should not be cooked. It should be used in salads, basting meat and other foods, as a substitute of butter on bread slice, etc. You can use pomace olive oil or refined olive oil for cooking purpose. Since olive oil is high in calories it should be consumed in moderate quantities. Two table spoons a day is enough for an adult person, provided all other oils are replaced by olive oil.
Low Fat Dairy Products
Low fat dairy products are high in calcium, protein and lactobacillus microorganisms. These nutrients and minerals are very important for overall good health and well being and may help in reducing bad cholesterol levels.
Removing fat from dairy products virtually removes all the cholesterol also from these dairy products and hence makes it appropriate for low cholesterol diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables contain lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Fruits and vegetables which contain vitamin A and C are particularly useful in lowering bad cholesterol levels. Sources of vitamin C rich foods include lemons, oranges and other citrus fruits, chilies, gooseberry, blackberry and all other berries.
Sources of vitamin A include pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, eggs, milk, etc. If you suffer from heart disease than make sure that you eat five portions of fruits and vegetables on daily basis to get all the essential nutrients without upping your calorie intake.
Home Remedies for Cholesterol
Healthy Foods: Foods that Keep Your Cholesterol Levels at Check
Best Foods to Reduce Cholesterol
Effective Diet Containing Low Cholesterol
Diet that Can Radically Reduce Your Cholesterol Levels
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic have traditionally been used in Asian countries as a preventive medicine for heart ailments. Including onions and garlic in your diet, either cooked or raw, can provide you lots of heart healthy nutrients and can help in lowering high cholesterol levels. You can also eat a raw clove of garlic as first thing in the morning to prevent any kind of heart diseases and purify impurities from blood.
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are high in protein and soluble fiber and low in calories. Eating beans and legumes can help you in lowering bad cholesterol levels as it controls hunger pangs and its soluble fiber traps LDL cholesterol in the body.
Foods High in Plant Sterols
Researchers have proved that eating foods high in plant sterols can decrease cholesterol levels significantly. Natural sources of these antioxidants include vegetable oil, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Fortified products like milk, cheese, bread contains more concentrated forms of these antioxidants.
Whole grains contain the outermost layer or shell called bran. Bran is rich in minerals, B vitamins, iron and fiber and low in fat and cholesterol. This makes it highly effective in reducing cholesterol levels. Some whole grains like wheat have high insoluble fiber content which helps in regulating glycemic index in body while some other grains like oats have high soluble fiber content which helps in lowering high cholesterol levels. Try to switch over completely from refined grains to whole grains. Eat a variety of whole grains on a regular basis to keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Lastly remember that if you are on a low cholesterol diet than you do not need to cut out all your favorite foods. You can occasionally have a small portion of your favorite foods. Making a ground rule, like eating a serving of high fat foods every Sunday is fine. It will help you savor your favorite food without bingeing. Besides, eating these healthy foods in generous portions on daily basis will help in balancing out your weekly treat.
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