When you visit the doctor and hear the words, “You need to get your cholesterol under control,” it’s a good idea to be proactive. While you could be prescribed medication, there are also foods you can eat to help bring your numbers into a healthy ratio. Even if your cholesterol is in good shape, the following foods will be good additions to your diet to maintain your health because they work to keep your numbers low:
1. Fatty Seafood
Seafood is the one place where you can opt for a fatty piece of meat without any guilt. Why? Because fish that are high in fat are high in omega-3, which is one of the best nutrients you can give your body. Researchers have linked omega-3 to preventing dementia and heart disease, not to mention lowering your cholesterol.
Further, scientists at Loma Linda University conducted a study and found that people who swapped saturated fats for omega-3s were able to raise their levels of good cholesterol by up to 4 percent. Next time you’re at the store, pick up some herring, salmon or sardines.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture did a little research and found that black tea can reduce the number of fatty acids and bad cholesterol in your body by eliminating blood lipids. In fact, the USDA reports that drinking black tea could lower these numbers by as much as 10 percent over the course of just three weeks.
As a bonus, black tea is also rich in antioxidants that fight cancer and has been linked to reducing coronary heart disease. Consider starting your day with a cup of black tea instead of black coffee.
Yes, chocolate! As long as you are reaching for the bittersweet, dark chocolate, you are actually doing your heart a favor. Dark chocolate has more than thrice the amount of antioxidants that milk chocolate does. These antioxidants will keep the platelets in your blood from sticking together and have been found to possibly prevent clogging in the arteries.
Dark chocolate can build up your HDL – or healthy cholesterol – levels. One study found that over 12 weeks, people who consumed cocoa powder saw a 24 percent jump in their HDL levels, as opposed to a 5 percent increase among control group participants.
Spice up your next meal with a little bit of garlic, which studies have found can do the following:
Lower blood pressure
Keep blood clots from forming
Lower your cholesterol
Experts suggest having as much as two to four cloves of fresh garlic every day.
You might already know that spinach is great for you as a source of iron and other vitamins. The green, leafy vegetable also has a lot of lutein, which helps to prevent macular degeneration, which can cause blindness. Lutein may also play a role in encouraging the walls of your arteries to reject cholesterol invaders that try to create clogs. Throw some spinach on your next salad to help ward off unhealthy cholesterol.
Providing monounsaturated fat, which is heart-healthy, avocados could pull double-duty by lowering your LDL cholesterol and raising your HDL levels. The fruit also contains beta-sitosterol, which is another fat that can actually reduce the cholesterol that the body absorbs when you eat. Keep in mind that the average avocado has 30 grams of fat, so you can add these to your diet, but do so in moderation.
The American Journal and Clinical Nutrition published a study that found amazing results for people who spent a month eating whole walnuts in 1.5-ounce servings for six days a week. These individuals were able to lower their LDL cholesterol numbers by 9.3 percent. This is another food that, while healthy, should be eaten in moderation.
Consider eating oatmeal for breakfast every day. Experts say that having two servings of oats a day will reduce your LDL cholesterol significantly in just six weeks, cutting the number by 5.3 percent. That’s because beta-glucan, found in oats, will absorb LDL and allow your body to excrete it.
9. Red Wine
Oh, red wine, that wonderful beverage that allows us to drink to our health. Red grapes called Tempranillo are high in fiber and are often use to make wines such as Rioja. Spain’s Universidad Complutense de Madrid launched a study into nutrition and metabolism. Researchers there found that when people ate these grapes, LDL levels were lowered by about 9 percent. Further, participants in the study who already had high cholesterol saw an even bigger decrease at 12 percent.
As the song goes, beans really are good for your heart. When you add half a cup of beans to that soup you’re eating, you can lower your overall cholesterol by as much as 8 percent. That’s what researchers from Arizona State University Polytechnic discovered in a recent study.
Beans are high in fiber, and fiber can actually slow cholesterol’s absorption rate in your body. Fiber will also reduce the amount of cholesterol that your body absorbs. Next time you want to add a little variety to your meal, reach for beans like pinto, kidney or black. One serving of each of these will give you about a third of the fiber you are supposed to consume every day.
Changing your diet is not always easy, but it can definitely be worth it. At PurMedica, we pride ourselves on encouraging people to take a comprehensive look at their health and use nutrition to combat medical problems. Talk to your physician today about how these additions to your diet can be beneficial.
There are also natural supplements that can benefit someone with elevated cholesterol levels. Natural supplements can be a step before pharmaceuticals. Discuss with your physician.