Heart disease has claimed several lives, even prematurely. It is the leading cause of death worldwide. Reducing your cholesterol intake may significantly lower your risk of heart disease.
There are two major types of cholesterol in your body. They include the “good” type called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and the “bad” type low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. A lower level of “good” HDL cholesterol, a high level of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and high triglyceride levels may increase the risk of heart disease. All these markers of heart disease are obtained majorly from dietary intake. It is, therefore, necessary that you analyze your diet and do the required adjustments. This means eating and avoiding certain foods. This article discusses some foods you can eat to lower cholesterol levels.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The popular Mediterranean diet consists of heart-friendly extra virgin olive oil as one of its foods. Extra virgin olive oil can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 30%. Studies suggest that it can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase “good” HDL cholesterol, ultimately reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack. The reason why extra virgin olive oil increases “good” HDL cholesterol is because of its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids. Additionally, it contains polyphenols that combat inflammation – a key participator in the development of heart disease.
Dark Leafy Greens
It is indisputable that all vegetables are important for your health, especially your heart. However, the dark leafy greens come with added advantages. Kales, spinach, and other dark leafy greens have a higher content of carotenoids called lutein, associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. While in the body, carotenoids work as antioxidants and seek out free radicals, thus reducing their numbers. When free radicals accumulate in the body, they lead to oxidative stress, which can cause your arteries to harden. Dark leafy greens also bind to bile acids which result in a reduction of cholesterol. By binding to bile acids, the body is stimulated to excrete more cholesterol.
There are many types of tea, from green tea to black tea to white tea. They are all beneficial to health, but green tea is more popular. What makes tea important in lowering cholesterols is its content of powerful compounds, which are catechins and quercetin. Catechins, in particular, are involved in the increased production of nitric oxide, which helps put your blood pressure in check. Catechins also block the synthesis and absorption of cholesterol. Quercetin as an antioxidant helps reduce inflammation and improve the functionality of the blood vessels.
It would be a lie to say that you eat clean and healthy if your diet does not include vegetables. Vegetables are a great source of dietary fiber and antioxidants. It is also worth noting that they are very low in calories, one thing which is good in the maintenance of healthy weight. Just like oranges and apples, some vegetables contain high amounts of pectin – a soluble fiber that helps reduce cholesterol. Pectin can also be obtained from eggplants, okra, and potatoes. Furthermore, vegetables are high in plant compounds which are associated with several health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease.
Beans, lentils, and peas are popular and most commonly consumed pulses or legumes. Regular consumption of legumes increases your intake of fiber, plant-based protein, and minerals. It will help if you can include more legumes in your diet than you do for the processed meat and refined grains. Doing so will significantly lower your risk of heart disease. In fact, taking just 100 g of legumes every day can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol by up to 6.6mg/dl.
I don’t know whether you thought of nuts fitting in this list. Yes, nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, are exceptionally nutritious and friendly to your heart. For your information, nuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats. Walnuts, in particular, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids – a variety of plant-based types of polyunsaturated fat and are associated with improved heart health. Almond, on the other hand, plus other nuts, are loaded with L-arginine – an amino acid that stimulates your body to release nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps dilate blood vessels, thus reducing blood pressure.
Nuts are also a good source of phytosterol. This is a plant compound that has structural similarities with cholesterol. They block absorption of cholesterol in the alimentary canal, thereby reducing the amount of total cholesterol. What’s more, electrolytes such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium contained in nuts are associated with reduced blood pressure and risk of heart disease. Consuming nuts like three times per day can help decrease “bad” LDL cholesterol by up to 10.2 mg/dl. Similarly, nuts can generally reduce the fatality rate of heart disease by up to 28%.
Among fruits, avocado is one of the most nutritious ones. It can be consumed raw in slices, applied to bread as a spread, replaced butter in baking, or drunk as a blended juice. Avocados are highly loaded with fiber and monounsaturated fats, which are essential nutrients involved in raising “good” HDL cholesterol and reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol. These two nutrients can also help lower triglyceride levels in the blood, which reduces the risk of heart disease.
Eating fatty fish like mackerel and salmon can help reduce the risk of heart disease significantly. These fish provide long-chain omega -3 fatty acids. Increased “good” HDL cholesterol is associated with the consumption of omega-3 fats. To get the best out of fatty fish, you may want to steam or stew it instead of frying, as this will only increase your risk of heart disease. Researchers believe that eating tuna just once a week can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 27%.
Cholesterol is a major predisposing factor to heart disease. Dietary modifications may help reduce these risks by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol. This article has discussed some foods that may help lower your total cholesterol level and reduce the risk of heart disease. It will be best to alternate these foods in your healthy diet.