Know These Cholesterol-Buster Foods to Maintain Your Cholesterol Levels

What is cholesterol? It’s a waxy, fat-like substance that's found in all cells of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs.

Elevated cholesterol levels in your body are one of the risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. Blocked arteries due to high cholesterol can block blood flow to your brain. It doesn't take long before brain cells begin to die.

Eating too much saturated fat increases cholesterol levels. This is why it is best to limit the amount of foods we eat that are high in saturated fats such as:
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Hard margarines
  • Lard, dripping and goose fat
  • Fatty meat and meat products such as sausages
  • Full fat cheese, milk, cream and yogurt
  • Coconut and palm oils and coconut cream

Choosing a healthy diet, low in saturated fat  is important in helping to improve your cholesterol levels. You can maintain your cholesterol levels by including below foods in your every day diet which lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and leaving the good HDL cholesterol largely unaffected:

Soya Foods
Being naturally low in saturated fat, soya foods help lower cholesterol. The special proteins in soya also appear to influence how the body regulates cholesterol too. Studies show you can lower your cholesterol by around 6% by including as little as 15g soya protein per day. Choose from: soya alternatives to milk and yogurt, soya desserts, soya meat alternatives, soya nuts, edamame beans and tofu. 

Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
Substituting saturated animal fats and other high cholesterol foods with healthier fats like olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and avocados is the most powerful thing you can do to achieve a drastic reduction in your LDL cholesterol.

Oats and Barley
Both oats and barley are rich in a form of soluble fiber called beta glucan. Once eaten, beta glucan forms a gel which helps bind cholesterol in the intestines and prevent it from being absorbed. It is recommended that we eat about 3g of beta glucan per day.

Studies have shown that less than half a clove (900mg) of raw garlic a day can lower cholesterol by 9-12%. Raw garlic is best and can be added to olive oil salad dressings, or as a garnish on soups and sandwiches.

All nuts are rich in vegetable protein, fiber, heart healthy unsaturated fats, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, natural plant sterols and a host of beneficial plant nutrients.  30-35g a day of nuts (a handful) has the potential to lower cholesterol by an average of 5%.

Green Tea
Green tea has long been a staple in East Asia where it is believed to wash oil (fat) out of the body. Studies suggest this may be true as green tea can lower cholesterol by 2-5%. Green tea without sugar also has few calories (typically less than 10).

Fruits and Vegetables
All fruits and vegetables are low in saturated fat, so eating more helps to keep saturated fat intake low.  Fruit and vegetables are also a valuable source of cholesterol lowering soluble fibers. Try to include at least one pulse (beans, peas, lentils) everyday.  Other rich sources of soluble fiber include sweet potato, aubergene, okra (ladies finger), broccoli, apples, strawberry and prunes.

Dark Chocolate
Cocoa flavanols in dark non-milk chocolate have been shown to reduce cholesterol by 2-5%.


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