By: Celeste Davie
You can reduce your cholesterol level by making better food choices. A high level of low-density lipoprotein and triglycerides is related to foods that are high in saturated fat and trans fat. Cholesterol is a steroid lipid (fat) found in the blood of all animals and is necessary for proper functioning of our cell membranes and production of hormones. Triglycerides are a blood lipid that helps enable the bidirectional transference of adipose fat and blood glucose from the liver. A blood test is used to measure cholesterol levels. A person’s total cholesterol level is determined from calculations and measurements of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, known as bad cholesterol), high-density lipoprotein (HDL, known as good cholesterol), and triglycerides.
Our bodies already manufacture all the cholesterol we need, so it is not necessary to consume more. High levels of cholesterol have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The first step to improving cholesterol levels is through lifestyle changes. Cholesterol lowering foods should be incorporated into everyone's diet for optimal health. This means consuming adequate amounts of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Cholesterol lowering foods have been clinically proven to promote removal of LDL cholesterol and elimination of waste products.
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.
Foods That Reduce LDL Cholesterol
Avocados: Contain significant amounts of oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat that helps boost good cholesterol and lower bad. They are also rich in a plant chemical called beta-sitosterol, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels by limiting the amount of cholesterol that is able to enter the body.
Lentils: The soluble fiber in lentils (black-eyed peas, kidney, lima and navy beans) forms a sticky substance that traps cholesterol and helps move it out of the body.
Soybeans: They are a protein powerhouse, rich in soluble fiber and high in isoflavones, a plant compound that brings down total blood levels of cholesterol.
Nuts: Contain a healthy unsaturated fat, not the artery-clogging kind that’s bad for you. Nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and pistachios) are high in plant sterols, substances that block the absorption of cholesterol.
Olive Oil: The unsaturated fats found in olive oil have the added benefit of helping to cut LDL cholesterol levels without affecting HDL. It also contains a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower your LDL cholesterol, but leave your HDL cholesterol untouched.
Oatmeal: Contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Eating whole oatmeal every morning, or switching to whole products like brown rice, can help you get more bran in your diet.
Flax Seeds: It reduces the LDL cholesterol in people with high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia). Flax seeds are a non-animal source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Lycopene Foods: The carotenoid pigment responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their red color is found in tomatoes, watermelon, and various other high lycopene foods.
Green Tea: This tea has long been a staple in East Asia where it is believed to wash oil (fat) out of the body. Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a very powerful antioxidant that has been known to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, effectively lower LDL cholesterol levels, and inhibit abnormal formation of blood clots.
Fatty fish: Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.
In addition to changing your diet, you should make heart-healthy lifestyle changes too. Regular aerobic exercise (walking, jogging or bike riding for 20 to 30 minutes at a time) may be the most effective way to increase HDL levels. Be sure to maintain a healthy weight to help keep your cholesterol level low. If you are overweight, reducing your weight should increase your HDL levels. This is especially important if your excess weight is stored in your abdominal area. Also, removing trans fatty acids from your diet will almost certainly result in a measurable increase in HDL levels. Trans fatty acids not only increase LDL cholesterol levels, they also reduce HDL cholesterol levels. Furthermore, if you smoke, giving up tobacco will result in an increase in HDL levels.
Celeste Davie is a member of BGR! Los Angeles. She is a freelance writer,traveler, marathon runner, foodie, and photography enthusiast. Celeste is passionate about fitness and promoting healthy eating. For more info on living a healthy lifestyle, visit her blog at www.courirwoman.com or follow her on twitter @courirwoman.