Everyone knows that having too much cholesterol in your body is like setting up a date with heart disease. That doesn’t mean you completely avoid cholesterol rich foods, that’s because cholesterol is an essential oil based compound which makes up the wall of your cells and also aids in the manufacture of important hormones. There are two types of cholesterol present in the blood– the “good” cholesterol carried by high density lipoprotein and “bad” cholesterol carried by low density lipoprotein. High amounts of “bad” cholesterol cause blockages in the arteries leading to heart diseases. Thus food containing “bad” cholesterol should be taken moderately. While limiting such foods help a lot, including certain foods in your diet can work wonders in lowering LDL cholesterol levels while increasing the much needed HDL cholesterol levels. Here is a list of the most recommended superfoods which you simply can’t avoid in your diet if you are serious in maintaining a healthy cholesterol free life.
1. Oats and Barley
These whole grains are lifesavers when it comes to lowering LDL cholesterol levels. Not only are they a rich source of soluble fiber, they just don’t let your body absorb LDL cholesterol. Including these in your diet reduces the amount of “bad” cholesterol by ten percent, which is a big deal when it comes to lowering the risk of heart disease. Thus it is a super-food for heart disease. It is the presence of a soluble fiber called beta-glucen which makes oats and barley a powerful antidote. Beta-glucen acts like a sponge and absorbs excess amount of LDL cholesterol and carries it out of the body causing very less harm to the arteries in the process. Moreover they can be easily incorporated into any diet. Oatmeal can be easily included in your breakfast while barley goes well with salads and soups.
2. Dark Chocolate
Never expected chocolates in the list? Apparently dark chocolate is rich in procyanidins, which help in lowering cholesterol when levels are too high. It is very important to follow certain guidelines, though, when you include chocolate in your diet. Firstly, don’t overdo it. Too much of chocolate doesn’t equate to more reduction of cholesterol levels. Have it in moderate amounts. Secondly, choose the best organic raw dark chocolate. Milk chocolate should be avoided at all costs as it works in favor of increasing LDL levels. The purest of dark chocolates have very high content of procyanidins. Always go for quality rather than quantity.
3. Beans and other legumes
Your heart just found a new best friend! Recent studies have shown that beans are very effective in countering “bad” cholesterol thanks to the rich fiber content. They also keep the blood pressure stable. Thus it makes life easy for the heart in two different ways. Moreover beans are a well known staple food for diabetic patients as they keep blood sugar level under control. Including beans in your diet for twelve straight weeks has the potential to decrease LDL cholesterol levels by seven percent. Beans are the perfect substitute to meat which is known to shoot up cholesterol levels. It is rich in protein and fills the stomach. Beans can be easily included as a side dish along with any main course.
Thanks to Popeye the Sailor Man, every kid in the world knows that Spinach gives super human strength. While that might be an exaggeration, it is the one of those super healthy foods which makes the whole human system work better than ever, including cholesterol levels. Spinach contains considerable amounts of lutein, which is a pigment well known for protecting the arteries from accumulation of unwanted cholesterol. Moreover this leafy green is rich in minerals and vitamins which make it the best thing which you can include in your diet. They also help in lowering weight, thus reducing cholesterol indirectly. Obesity and too much fat is one of the primary catalyst in increasing cholesterol levels and heart disease. Thus spinach is on top of the list not just for a cholesterol diet, but for any healthy diet.
5. Green Tea
Everyone knows the wonder benefits of green tea. The best kept secret of ancient Chinese empires, green tea is well known for its antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. It is also a valiant crusader against cholesterol. It is the presence of flavonoids which makes green tea so good. There is a flavoniod called catechin which helps lower bad cholesterol levels. It is also known to keep your weight in check. The best part of this beverage is that it can be enjoyed in any season. Have a hot cup of green tea to keep you warm during winter and go for a chilled version during the hot summer months.
While garlic can gift you a bad breath, it makes sure that the cholesterol levels are in check. Garlic is one of the most flexible items to consider having in your diet as it can be coupled with anything in this list. It actually works better when paired with other cholesterol decreasing agents. Garlic contains Allicin which is the natural form of Statin – a class of drugs used to counter high cholesterol levels. The best part of garlic is that it can be added in your diet in powder form along with other spices. If you just can’t take the flavor then consider opting for garlic supplements which is a popular recommendation for cholesterol patients.
Avocados are the comeback kings when it comes to ruling health diets. They were mercilessly shunned during the low-fat diet ages. After the recent findings of how good they are for your body, there has been a shoot up in its popularity among health freaks. It is to be noted that while it is rich in fat, most of the fat is oleic acid which raises the “good” cholesterols while reducing the unwanted “bad” ones. They also contain a lot of fiber which work in favor of reducing excess cholesterol. An interesting fact is that while banana was thought to be the richest source of potassium, this wonder fruit has dethroned banana to claim the title. Avocados can be easily added as garnish to just about any meal.
You better start cracking if you want to lower your cholesterol levels! Almonds, cashews and walnuts are popular munches which you can snack around. They can also be used in smoothies and desserts. Nuts are a rich source of monounsaturated fats. Eating an ounce of any nut per day for a month can decrease “bad” cholesterol levels by a staggering twenty percent. You can always mix them up once you get tired of any one.
More the research done on apples, more the old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” seems to be true. After avocados, apple is the most important fruit to be added in your diet. Apple is a very good source of fiber which washes out the excess cholesterols out of your body. Basically any food rich in fiber lowers cholesterol. The vitamins and minerals present make it a valuable asset to any diet. It also contains polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants. Make sure to get organic apples. Presence of too much chemicals and usage of genetically modified seeds overshadow the benefits when it comes to the conventional apple available in any local grocery shop.
10. Flax seeds
Being a rich source of fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids, flax seeds are heart healthy superfoods. Omega 3 fatty acids go a long way in reducing cholesterol levels and also help in brain development apart from numerous other heart related benefits. Moreover the rich fiber content acts a supplementary effect in keeping cholesterol levels stable. Flax seeds also help in reducing stress levels while maintaining a healthy liver. The greatest advantage is that flax seed can easily disappear into curries, soups, stews and smoothies.