Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the world today. Unhealthy lifestyle, poor diet, and many other habits contribute to heart diseases. But, among them, high levels of bad cholesterol, low levels of good cholesterol, and high triglycerides increase the risk of heart diseases. So, in order to make your heart healthy, keep a check on your cholesterol levels and make sure that it is not shooting up. If you are a cholesterol patient, it is essential that you keep a check on your diet. Eat foods that lower cholesterol.
Table of Contents
- What is Cholesterol?
- Types of Cholesterol
- Causes of High Cholesterol
- Symptoms of High Cholesterol
- Foods that Lower Cholesterol
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a kind of waxy fat-like substance found in your blood. Your body needs cholesterol to build cells, and also, it plays a crucial role in producing hormones, vitamin D, and other substances that help in the process of digestion. Healthy cholesterol levels can protect against heart diseases. However, too much cholesterol is bad for your health as it can lead to stroke and heart attacks.
Types of Cholesterol
The three main types of cholesterol include:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – Often known as the bad cholesterol, LDL contributes to the buildup of fats in the arteries causing atherosclerosis. This condition narrows down the arteries, thereby increasing the risk of heart diseases.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) – This type of cholesterol is often known as the ‘good cholesterol’. HDL helps in eliminating one-third of the bad cholesterol from your body. A healthy HDL level can reduce the risk of heart diseases.
- Triglycerides – They are the most common type of fat stored in your body. A high triglyceride level combined with high levels of bad cholesterol or low levels of good cholesterol increases the risk of heart diseases.
Causes of High Cholesterol
The main causes of high cholesterol are:
- Eating food high in fat
- Lack of exercise
Symptoms of High Cholesterol
There are no exact symptoms of high cholesterol. The only way to detect whether or not you have cholesterol is by doing a blood test.
Foods that Lower Cholesterol
Reducing bad cholesterol level is not an overnight process, and it takes time. As you know that a healthy diet is the only key towards a healthy life, give importance to foods that lower cholesterol.
Here are ten effective foods that lower cholesterol.
1. Leafy vegetables
Dark leafy veggies, including kale and spinach, contain carotenoids that can lower the risk of heart disease. The carotenoids present in them act as antioxidants that help to get rid of harmful free radicals that cause hardened arteries.
2. Fatty fish
Omega 3 fatty acids present in fish makes it the best option for controlling and lowering high cholesterol levels. Fishes such as tuna, salmon, and sardines are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. This prevents the building up of plaque within the walls of the arteries and blocking off proper oxygen and blood supply to both the brain and heart. Due to this, omega 3 fatty acids reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
3. Whole grains
Whole grains belong to the category of effective foods that lower cholesterol. Even though all whole grains are good for the health of your heart, oats and barley are noteworthy. They contain a soluble fibre known as beta-glucan, which is very effective in lowering the bad cholesterol. Whole grains are one of the best foods that increase metabolism.
Soy can reduce the risk of heart diseases, especially in people with high cholesterol levels.
Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds, are rich in nutrients and contain high monounsaturated fats. Walnuts contain omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for promoting heart health. On the other hand, almonds are rich in an amino acid known as L-arginine that helps your body produce nitric oxide, thereby regulating blood pressure. Nuts also provide plant-derived compounds known as phytosterols that help in lowering high cholesterol level by blocking its absorption in the intestines.
Rich in minerals, fibres, and proteins, legumes are a group of plant foods that includes peas, beans, and lentils. They help in lowering the bad cholesterol levels. To reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke, you can replace processed meats or refined grains in your diet with legumes.
Berries are low in fat and contain bioactive compounds that can prevent heart disease due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidant effect helps to reduce the excess bad cholesterol levels in the blood vessels.
Flaxseeds contain alpha-linolenic acid that helps to lower both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels. It also contains soluble fibres that prevent the absorption of cholesterol within the body.
Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fats and fibre that helps to lower and control high cholesterol levels. It destroys the excessive cholesterol content in your bloodstream as well as plaques on the artery walls, thereby keeping the cholesterol level under control.
Allicin, the active ingredient present in garlic helps in lowering bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Regular consumption of 1/2 to 1 garlic clove could reduce high cholesterol level by 9%.
Talk to a doctor before adding these foods that lower cholesterol in your diet. This is because if you are diabetic as well as a cholesterol patient there are foods and drinks you should avoid, that is, you can’t eat all the foods mentioned above. There is no need to go to a hospital, you can sit in your home and consult a doctor online.
Apart from adding the above-mentioned foods that lower cholesterol, there are other things that you should take care of. Avoid eating junk foods as it contains too many trans fats that increase the level of bad cholesterol in your body. Also, limit the intake of sweets.
Stay happy and healthy!