Some foods, including legumes and nuts helps to lower your cholesterol. Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death, Having high cholesterol levels especially “bad” LDL is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Low “good” HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides are also linked to increased risk . Your diet has a powerful effect on your cholesterol and other risk factors.
Here are foods that can lower cholesterol.
Legumes also known as pulses are a group of plant foods that includes beans, peas and lentils. It contains a lot of fiber, minerals and protein. Replacing some refined grains and processed meats in your diet with legumes can lower your risk of heart disease.
Eating of legumes per day is effective at lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and are a good source of plant-based protein.
Avocados are an exceptionally nutrient-dense fruit. Avocados provide monounsaturated fatty acids and fiber, two heart-healthy and cholesterol-lowering nutrients.
They’re a rich source of monounsaturated fats and fiber — two nutrients that help lower “bad” LDL and raise “good” HDL cholesterol. Clinical studies support the cholesterol-lowering effect of avocados.
3. Nuts — Especially Almonds and Walnuts
Nuts are another exceptionally nutrient-dense food. They’re very high in monounsaturated fats. Walnuts are also rich in the plant variety of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat associated with heart health.
Almonds and other nuts are particularly rich in L-arginine, an amino acid that helps your body make nitric oxide. This in turn, helps regulate blood pressure.
What’s more, nuts provide phytosterols. These plant compounds are structurally similar to cholesterol and help lower cholesterol by blocking its absorption in your intestines. Calcium, magnesium and potassium also found in nuts, may reduce blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease.
4. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are excellent sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s bolster heart health by increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering inflammation and stroke risk. Keep in mind that the healthiest ways to cook fish are steaming or stewing. In fact, fried fish may increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Fish is a major part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been extensively studied for its benefits on heart health. Some of the heart-protective benefits of fish may also come from certain peptides found in fish protein.
5. Whole Grains — Especially Oats and Barley
Extensive research ties whole grains to lower heart disease risk.
Whole grains keep all parts of the grain intact, which provides them with more vitamins, minerals, plant compounds and fiber than refined grains. While all whole grains may promote heart health, two grains are particularly noteworthy:
Oats: Contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol. Eating oats may lower total cholesterol by 5%
and “bad” LDL cholesterol by 7%.
Barley: Also rich in beta-glucans and can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Whole grains are linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Oats and barley provide beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that is very effective at lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol.
6. Fruits and Berries
Fruit is an excellent addition to a heart-healthy diet for several reasons.
Many types of fruit are rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels. It does this by encouraging your body to get rid of cholesterol and stopping your liver from producing this compound. One kind of soluble fiber called pectin lowers cholesterol by up to 10%. It’s found in fruits including apples, grapes, citrus fruits and strawberries.
Fruit also contains bioactive compounds that help prevent heart disease and other chronic diseases due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Eating berries and grapes, which are particularly rich sources of these plant compounds, can help increase “good” HDL and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
7. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa
Cocoa is the main ingredient in dark chocolate.
It may seem too good to be true, but research verifies the claims that dark chocolate and cocoa can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Cocoa and dark chocolate also seem to protect the “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood from oxidation, which is a key cause of heart disease.
However, chocolate is often high in added sugar — which negatively affects heart health. Therefore, you should use cocoa alone or choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 75–85% or higher.
Garlic has been used for centuries as an ingredient in cooking and as a medicine. It contains various powerful plant compounds, including allicin, its main active compound.
Garlic lowers blood pressure in people with elevated levels and may help lower total and “bad” LDL cholesterol although the latter effect is less strong. Because relatively large amounts of garlic are needed to achieve this heart-protective effect, many studies utilize aged supplements which are considered more effective than other garlic preparations.
Vegetables are a vital part of a heart-healthy diet. They’re rich in fiber and antioxidants and low in calories, which is necessary for maintaining a healthy weight.
Some vegetables are particularly high in pectin, the same cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber that occurs in apples and oranges. Pectin-rich vegetables also include okra, eggplants, carrots and potatoes. Vegetables also deliver a range of plant compounds which offer many health benefits, including protection against heart disease.
Tea harbors many plant compounds that improve your heart health. While green tea gets a lot of attention, black tea and white tea have similar properties and health effects.
Two of the primary beneficial compounds in tea are:
Catechins: Help activate nitric oxide, which is important for healthy
blood pressure. They also inhibit cholesterol synthesis and absorption and help
prevent blood clots.
Quercetin: May improve blood vessel function and lower inflammation.
12. Dark Leafy Greens
While all vegetables are good for your heart, dark leafy greens are particularly beneficial.
Dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, contain lutein and other carotenoids, which are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Carotenoids act as antioxidants to get rid of harmful free radicals that can lead to hardened arteries.
Dark leafy greens may also help lower cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids and making your body excrete more cholesterol.
Lutein lowers levels of oxidized “bad” LDL cholesterol and could help prevent cholesterol from binding to artery walls.
13. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
One of the most important foods in the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet is extra virgin olive oil.
The olive oil group had a 30% lower risk of major heart events, such as stroke and heart attack, compared to people who followed a low-fat diet. Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, the kind that may help raise “good” HDL and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. It is also a source of polyphenols, some of which reduce the inflammation that can drive heart disease.