Are you keeping track of your cholesterol? More than 102 million Americans have cholesterol levels above the normal level. Any number over 240 mg/dL puts you at high risk of heart disease. Does this ring a bell?
If so, something tells me you need to change your diet. There’s plenty of great foods you can eat to lower your cholesterol levels.
Can tea do the trick? How about some avocado? Wait, chocolate? Did I hear that correctly? Let’s discuss 8 Foods You Can Eat to help lower your cholesterol levels!
1. Dark Chocolate
You didn’t think we meant just any chocolate, did you? Dark chocolate is known for having several health benefits. This puts it at odds with the average candy bar you see at the gas station.
When it comes to high cholesterol, dark chocolate carries a powerful weapon. And that weapon is cocoa, believe it or not. Cocoa is the main ingredient in dark chocolate. The reason it is so effective is that it protects the bad cholesterol in your bloodstream from oxidation. If it didn’t, you would only be at further risk of heart disease.
A study from 2015 focused on adults who drank cocoa twice daily for a whole month. By the end, they were shown to experience a reduction of bad cholesterol, with their level of good cholesterol improved. They also saw their blood pressure decrease. So if you’d like to try a healthier option, put down the Snickers and eat some dark chocolate instead.
You’re hipster friend has probably been trying to get you on avocado for a while now. If you’re suffering from high cholesterol, maybe it’s time you listen to them. Avocado packs a powerful punch of both fiber and monounsaturated fats. These nutrients battle against bad cholesterol, ultimately making you healthier.
A study from 2015, focused on obese adults with dangerously high LDL– that’s that medical term for bad cholesterol. By the end, those who ate avocados experienced a greater decrease in LDL than those who didn’t.
Other studies have gotten more specific. Some have shown avocado to decrease LDL cholesterol by 22%, as well as an 11% increase in HDL, the good cholesterol. Even if your cholesterol level is healthy, you should still eat avocado. They hold a ton of other great nutrients, including potassium.
Avocados are known to boost the health of your eyes. They are even shown to help lower your risk of certain cancers. People who eat avocados are said to be healthier in general.
Let me guess, you’re more of a coffee person… Well, listen closely because this drink may save your life. If your cholesterol is at an unhealthy level, it’s best you start drinking tea.
Now I know you’re used to hearing about the benefits of green tea. But we’re going to focus our attention on black and white this time. You don’t need to go on this crazy, healthy tea binge to benefit your cholesterol. You can find a remedy in simple regular cups.
The tea carries an ingredient known as catechins, which inhibit cholesterol synthesis, keeping your blood pressure at a normal level.
Studies have indeed supported that tea assists in lowering levels of bad cholesterol. So if your doctor is warning you to watch your LDL, get that kettle ready.
This is where the real fun begins! Kale’s definitely the one you’ve all been waiting for… Right? Seeing kale on any list of recommended food makes you want to shut off immediately.
But if your cholesterol is bad, you’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Kale contains lutein. This is a type of carotenoid known for lessening your risk of heart disease. Carotenoids in general serve as antioxidants that relieve your arteries and kill free radicals.
Research from 2011 indicated that the lutein located in kale and other leafy greens decreases your LDL cholesterol, preventing it from accumulating along your artery walls.
5. Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is another cooking item strongly recommended for high cholesterol prevention. It contains monounsaturated fatty acids. The consumption of which is linked to the state of your cholesterol. If your olive intake is healthy, it can increase your HDL, as well as lower your LDL.
An experiment was conducted back in 2013, where seniors at risk of heart disease were given 4 tablespoons of olive oil a day along with other healthy foods. In the end, those that committed to the olive oil displayed a 30% lower risk of heart issues.
These included heart attack and stroke. So the next time you scour underneath your cupboard or reach into your pantry, try and grab the olive oil. Incorporating it into your next cook could really do wonders for your health.
Here’s a food you are well acquainted with, but probably aren’t thrilled over. Carrots are a staple vegetable for those trying to get healthy. A frequent intake of carrots has been linked to lower cholesterol levels. Carrots are rich in fiber and antioxidants. Just a single cup of chopped carrots carries almost 4 grams of fiber. That’s over 13% of your daily recommended intake. Just under 3 grams of this fiber is soluble.
Soluble fiber lowers your bad cholesterol. This helps you maintain a healthy heart. Let’s focus on a different kind of study this time. One with a rat. In 2003, scientists wanted to see what would happen if they fed this rat a 3-week supplementation of carrot nutrients.
As it turns out, carrots change the way our body absorbs cholesterol. This, in turn, prevents us from developing cardiovascular diseases as time goes on.
So if you enjoy vegetables, and don’t have the mental energy for kale, just keep it simple and have a bowl of baby carrots.
Let’s sink our teeth into some meat. Fish contain Omega-3 fatty acids. While they have several functions, one that is particularly beneficial is the acid’s ability to increase your level of good cholesterol.
This especially applies to salmon and mackerel. Just a 3-ounce portion of canned salmon carries between 1000 and 1500 mg of Omega-3 content. The same portion of canned mackerel carries roughly the same. Tuna is also renowned for its benefits in this area.
Researchers have confirmed that if you eat tuna at least once a week, you have a 27% less chance of cardiovascular disease.
A 25-year study focused on a group of adults who consumed a steady diet of non-fried fish. By the end, those who stuck with it showed less risk of developing metabolic syndrome. This meant that their cholesterol level was steady, and their blood pressure was low.
It might make your breath stink, but boy can it help your cholesterol. Many of us see garlic as nothing more than a simple cooking ingredient. In reality, it’s that and so much more.
For centuries, garlic has been used as a medicine as well. Garlic contains plenty of powerful compounds. The most important of which is allicin. Allicin is a plant compound that is produced when garlic is crushed down or chopped up. Allicin has been linked to lower levels of cholesterol.
Many pieces of research have confirmed this. A 2001 study placed 46 people on observation. Over the course of 12 weeks, the subjects were given tablets of garlic powder. Each contains 10 mg of allicin. By the end of the study, 22 of the participants displayed a reduced level of bad cholesterol. Scientists also observed a 38% reduction in heart issues after 50 years of age.
So here’s a tip. The next time you’re cooking dinner. Add a little garlic. I don’t mean scarf down a whole loaf of greasy garlic bread. That just opens a whole new window of health problems. I’m talking about foods like prime rib with roasted vegetables. Maybe some sauteed spinach. Some garlic sprinkled into a roast chicken is also a winning recipe.
Garlic works well with a home-cooked Sunday meal. Just make sure you have some breath mints on hand.