We know that high cholesterol levels can lead to life-threatening conditions such as a heart attack, but did you know that you can eat your way to good health by following a cholesterol-lowering diet?
By including foods that lower cholesterol while limiting foods with the damaging low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol component, you could reverse any existing risk of heart disease. We will discuss how to reduce cholesterol without medication as we uncover an easy diet plan of cholesterol-lowering tips to follow.
What Factors Affect Cholesterol Levels?
Regulating cholesterol levels can be a tricky balance between choosing the right foods and following a healthy lifestyle. There are three pre-existing factors that can contribute to high cholesterol levels, even if you are doing all of the right things. Your age, gender, and DNA all play important parts in the battle against high cholesterol levels. As we age, our cholesterol levels can skyrocket. This is true for both men and women, with the female gender facing the risk of levels increasing after menopause. You may also have inherited the gene that has been linked to high LDL levels from birth. Known medically as familial hypercholesterolemia, the genetic disorder is caused by a defect on chromosome 19.
Factors that you can control to avoid high cholesterol levels are your diet, weight, and level of physical activity. With your diet, consuming too many saturated fats can raise the cholesterol levels. There may also be hidden cholesterol in the foods you least suspect, which can add to the levels in the bloodstream. Knowing your cholesterol numbers will help you choose the right food to eat such as those with low to no cholesterol and saturated fats. This type of diet to lower cholesterol intake is a big step in the fight against heart disease.
Your body weight can also play a role in the amount of cholesterol in your blood. You can lower high cholesterol and the harmful LDL levels by keeping your weight under control. As you lose weight, your “good” cholesterol levels( high-density lipoprotein; HDL) will rise, while the triglyceride levels will decrease. This is why obesity is a major factor in heart disease cases.
Living a sedentary lifestyle in another big factor in high cholesterol levels. Regular physical activity helps you to lose weight, lower LDL levels, and increase the good HDL cholesterol levels. Being physically active for at least 30 minutes each day will regulate these levels.
Cholesterol-Lowering Diet Plan
There are ways to reduce the amount of saturated fats in your system to lower cholesterol. Choosing the right foods will supply the body with the tools of soluble fiber, unsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats that lower LDL levels, and plant sterols and stanols to impair absorption of cholesterol. Let’s look at how to reduce cholesterol through diet.
As plants contain no cholesterol, adding a variety of plant-based foods to your diet can ensure no additional cholesterol enters your system. Enjoy low-saturated fat vegetables as meals, side dishes, and even as substitutions for red meat. Those enriched with soluble fiber will attack any cholesterol entering your system by other sources and eliminate it. Choose turnips, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and okra.
Several varieties of fruit contain pectin, a soluble fiber that targets “bad” cholesterol LDL. Have apples, strawberries, grapes, mangos, and citrus fruits as a snack or dessert. Adding them to a smoothie is another great example of how to reduce cholesterol quickly.
3. Whole Grains
Another tasty source of soluble fiber for your low cholesterol diet plan is whole grain food products. Foods under this category can include oat-based cereals, oatmeal, porridge, barley, pearl barley, and oatcakes. To ensure you get the recommended daily amount of soluble fiber of five to 10 grams, add slices of fruit to the oatmeal or cereal. You can also increase your intake by choosing bread made with at least 50% oat flour. Consume brown pasta and rice rather than white additives-based products.
While many people include plants with pods such as peas, beans, and lentils as part of the vegetable group, they are officially of the legume family and deserve a separate mention. As one of the best sources of soluble fiber, legumes come in many forms. They are a useful tool for weight loss as well, because they give the feeling of fullness, or satiety. Find your favorite legumes to prepare with meals, in stews, and in casseroles. Try black-eyed peas, chickpeas, split peas, kidney beans, pinto beans, butter beans, lima beans, edamame beans, navy beans, red lentils, and green lentils.
The powerful sterols and stanols found in nuts could help lower the LDL cholesterol levels up to five percent when two ounces are consumed daily. Munch on walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans, cashews, and peanuts. The best type to choose for your heart are raw, unsalted, natural nuts.
Cooking with the right oils may reduce your cholesterol levels. Use olive, safflower, and other vegetable oils instead of shortening, lard, and butter.
You may have been told to stay away from dairy products due to the high-fat content. There are alternatives, with reduced fat cheese, high unsaturated fat soft butter spreads, and skim milk.
Still a powerful tool in the fight against high cholesterol, soybean products such as soy milk and tofu may lower your levels by five to six percent with a daily intake of 25 grams.
Choose fish referred to as fatty or oily fish to lower harmful LDL levels as part of your meal plan at least twice each week. They should be high in omega-3 fatty acids. Consume trout, salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring. Be creative in the kitchen and make dishes like baked trout with almonds, mackerel with Moroccan spices, or a fish pie.
Cinnamon is another useful spice for those wondering how to reduce cholesterol naturally with home remedies. Add one-half tablespoon of cinnamon to your meals daily to reduce cholesterol up to 26%. Sprinkle it as a topping on your yogurt, cereal, and in low-fat cottage cheese.
As with any diet management plan, it is important to still be able to indulge in your favorite treat once in a while—to prevent an uncontrollable binge. This is where alternatives come in. You may want to curb the salty taste of chips with tortilla chips and make your own salsa with no chemical additives. Use fresh tomatoes, coriander, garlic, onion, and chilies. If chocolate is your go-to treat, grab a handful of chocolate-covered nuts rather than a chocolate bar.
Other Ways to Lower Cholesterol
Make a few lifestyle changes and habits to regulate your cholesterol levels.
- Read nutrition labels to check for the amount of saturated fats.
- Know your vitamin D levels with regular blood work tests, as low levels lead to high cholesterol.
- Monitor your blood sugar levels to prevent LDL cholesterol levels from rising.
- Exercise regularly to help lower cholesterol and protect your heart. Taking a brisk walk for one hour each day is the best physical activity to lower cholesterol.
- Use a plant sterols supplement to boost your intake of this natural cholesterol-fighting compound. It is also in legumes, vegetables, fruits, grain products, nuts, and seeds. Sterols are added to manufactured food, but are usually accompanied by chemicals.
- Get adequate sleep every night with an aim of eight to 10 hours. Denying your body sleep can increase the bad LDL cholesterol.
- Add a red rice yeast supplement to get the same benefits as the active component in statin drugs, which doctors prescribe for high cholesterol levels.
Today, you can start making a change for the better by following a cholesterol-lowering diet plan. High cholesterol can lead to serious heart diseases, stroke, and may even trigger a heart attack. To prevent a chemical imbalance or side effects of prescribed cholesterol drugs, you may be able to lower your cholesterol with the natural properties of raw, fresh food. There are also lifestyle tips that will enhance the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol levels.
Plant-Based Diet: Cholesterol-Lowering and Now Blood Pressure-Lowering?
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