If you are looking to lower your cholesterol, then some simple changes to your diet can really help knock your numbers down to size. Why not try these healthy, heart loving foods to give your body the TLC it deserves.
1) Oatmeal / Oat bran – high fibre foods
Stock up on porridge and you will notice a difference in your cholesterol levels, as oatmeal contains the very helpful soluble fibre, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) – also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol. Also found in kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes, soluble fibre can minimise the absorption of cholesterol into your blood stream, making it a useful addition to your diet.
2) Fish and omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are usually found in fish, are brilliant at reducing your blood pressure and decreasing your risk of developing blood clots. If you have already suffered a heart attack, then fish oil can also combat the potential for a sudden death. It is recommended that you eat at least two servings of baked or grilled fish a week to see the benefits. You could take a fish oil supplement if you aren’t a fish fan, but this means you will miss out on other nutrients this food group provides.
Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Lake trout
- Albacore tuna
3) Walnuts, almonds and nuts
Nuts are ideal for keeping your blood vessels healthy, as they are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which work to reduce blood cholesterol. By eating just a handful a day you can minimise your risk of heart disease, although make sure to steer clear of salted or coated versions. Nuts are high in calories however so be careful not to munch on too many if you don’t want to gain weight. They are a great replacement for cheese, meat or croutons in a salad.
Why not try:
- Pine nuts
4) Olive oil
Combating ‘bad’ cholesterol but boosting the ‘good’, olive oil includes a potent mix of antioxidants. Extra virgin olive oil is especially beneficial as the oil is less processed, however again it is high in calories so don’t have more than the recommended amount. You can swap other fats in your diet to olive oil, and it is ideal for sautéing vegetables or forming a salad dressing with vinegar. You can even use it instead of butter when basting meat or as a dip for bread – very Italian.
5) Foods with plant sterols or stanols
Plant sterols or stanols are substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol. You can now buy foods that have been fortified with these extracts, and they won’t affect the ‘good’ cholesterol in your system either. Margarines, orange juice and yoghurt drinks that include plant sterols can reduce your ‘bad’ cholesterol by more than 10% so it is worth looking in to.
What else should I consider when changing my diet?
Cutting back on fat, including saturated and trans fats, is a good start when adapting your diet to lower cholesterol.
Saturated fats include:
- Full fat dairy products
- Some oils
Trans fats include:
- Store bought cookies
Other lifestyle changes to consider would be increasing your exercise, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.