Low cholesterol levels require a well-thought and well-balanced diet. Even small changes can produce substantial results if you are cosistent. Taking a good look at your eating habits will help you make the right choices for you and your nutritional needs. You can start with this list right here.
The ten foods on this list not only can help you keep cholesterol at low levels but have many great nutrional benefits.Another thing to consider is that eating more of these foods means that there is less room for fatty and unhealthy foods in your low cholesrerol diet.
Remember that for very high cholesterol levels a healthy diet may not be enough. Consult your health care provider for the proper medication.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance with a waxy texture that can be found in all our cells. It is produced by the body itself and serves some really important purposes like making vitamin D, hormones and substances that facilitate food digestion. It travels through the blood stream in neat little packages called lipoproteins. These are made of fat (lipid) on the inside and protein on the outside.
Types of lipoproteins you should know about
Low density lipoproteins (LDL): The notorious “bad cholesterol” lives up to its reputation. LDL is responsible for the formation of plaque on the walls of arteries. The more LDL there is in the blood, the greater the risk of heart disease.
High density lipoproteins (HDL): They are the nice guys, the so called “good cholesterol”, and they're actually quite helpful because they carry LDL (the bad guys) to the liver so you can get rid of them. A high level of HDL is actually a good thing because it decreases your risk of heart disease.
Very low density lipoproteins (VLDL): They are similar to LDL. They mostly consist of fat, a little protein, and not much else.
Triglycerides: Another form of “bad fat”. They are carried in the blood with the help of VLDL. They are stored in the fat cells throughout your body. Triglycerides are all the excess calories, alcohol or sugar that your body cannot process. It has to go somewhere, right?
Some foods for a low cholesterol diet
A fairly good amount of cholesterol comes from food and, of course, not all foods are created equal. Some will help you keep low cholesterol levels while others will elevate your LDL and place you at a risk of coronary heart disease and a heart attack. On the other hand, there are some great foods to consider for your cholesterol free diet. Here's the list of 10 foods for low cholesterol levels.
Eating 2 ounces (about 60 grams) of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%.Walnuts are a great example because they have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. They can be part of a low cholesterol diet, according to their FDA health claim. Almonds also contain unsaturated fatty acids like oleic and palmitoleic acids which have been shown to lower blood LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL. Other great options are peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans and pistachios. Remember to keep the portions small. Always opt for raw nuts without any salt.
Their unique phenolic compounds (called avenanthramides) are potent antioxidants with additional cardioprotective effects. Avenanthramides can protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation and therefore inhibit the mechanism involved in atherosclerosis. Oats are also a superb source of tocotrienols. These compounds inhibit cholesterol synthesis and have been found to lower blood cholesterol.
Oats, oat bran and oatmeal contain a very special dietary fiber called beta-glucan. This is a polysaccharide that lowers the levels of cholesterol. This also means you are less likely to suffer a stroke or a heart attack. It is also worth noting that beta-glucans enhance the immune system and its response to bacterial infection. So, what better way to start your day than a hot bowl of oatmeal?
3. Salmon and Other Fatty Fisheicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Omega-3s have numerous health promoting qualities including reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthitis, and even certain cancers such as breast cancer. They also help prevent cognitive and behavioural dysfunctions. Omega-3s help with mood, thinking, circulation, and glucose and insulin metabolism. According to research from Loma Linda University, a diet that includes two servings of fatty fish per week decreases trygliceride levels by 11.4% and increases HDL (good cholesterol) by 4% . In addition, these two weekly servings slightly lower LDL (bad cholesterol).Another thing to consider is that, by replacing meat with fatty fish, you reduce your saturated fat intake and lower LDL even more.
. Kidney beans have a similar nutrient contect and health benefits.
This food (and legumes in general) is highly recommended as a daily addition to your diet. Eating a small portion of beans five or more times a week can help you reach the 25-30 grams of fiber the body needs every day. There are many choices, you don't have to have the same old thing every day! Great varieties to consider are kidney, navy, pinto, black, chickpea and butter beans.
Spinach, like other dark green leafy vegetables, also contains lutein. This natural carotenoid can only be synthesized by plants. Lutein has been shown to be protective against age-related macular degeneration. What's more, it has anti-inflammatory and and antioxidant effects that are less well-known. According to one study, lutein prevents cholesterol accumulation and decreases oxidized LDL, thus protecting against the formation of arterial plaque, which means that it is protective against atherosclerosis.
Avocandos contain the good kind of fat, since they are high in oleic acid. This omega-9 essential fat can also be found in nuts and olive oil. In one study from Mexico, 45 volunteers who ate avocados every day for a week experienced an average 17% drop in total blood cholesterol. In addition, the levels of their LDL and triglycerides dropped, while their HDL went up.
Avocados are also high in beta-sitosterol. This is a very useful plant-based fat that reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food. According to the American Journal of Medicine, beta-sitosterol has reduced cholesterol in sixteen human studies.
Garlic is and excellent food for your heart. It can lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure, and protect against infection. According to research, garlic can also inhibit the formation of nanoplaque in the arteries. Nanoplaque is basically the earliest stage of arterial plaque. This amazing food keeps individual cholesterol particles from attaching themselves to artery walls. What's more, in a meta-analysis of several studies, garlic supplements lowered total serum cholesterol levels by 12 percent after four weeks of treatment. LDL was reduced 4 to 15 percent while the protective HDL remained intact or even increased in some cases.
8. Olive Oil. Bare in mind that all fats, even the healthier plant based ones, are still fats and they should be consumed in moderation. After all they all carry their own burden of calories. It is up to you to find the balance in your own low cholesterol diet.
In some studies (trials involving rats), two medium sized apples contained the amount of fiber needed to lower total cholesterol by up to 10 percent and raise HDL cholesterol by about 10 percent. A few studies found that the polyphenols contained in apples can lower the oxidation of LDL.
If you don't care much for apples, you can try other fruit full of fiber and polyphenols like pears, grapes, strawberries or citrus fruits. Anyway, give apples a chance. “An apple a day” should be in every low cholesterol diet.
10. Green Tea
Flavonoids, the main antioxidants in green tea, are compounds with many health protective actions. Research shows that drinking up to 10 cups of green tea (it sounds a lot, I know) a day has a significant impact on your blood cholesterol levels. Catechins, one of the antioxidants found in tea, may be responsible for its cholesterol lowering effects. It has been suggested that polyphenols in green tea may block cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestine and also help the body get rid of cholesterol.
Black tea has the same ant cholesterol properties as green tea. The only drawback is it contains a lot more caffeine. So the best practice is to switch between them depending on the time of the day. It would be great to try and have your tea plain, without any sugar or sweeteners to make the beverage extremely healthy!