Foods that lower cholesterol - the ultimate guide


If you want to understand clearly which foods that lower cholesterol to include in your diet, you have come to the right place.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. where it is responsible for almost 1 in every 4 deaths. 

In the UK the picture is not much better with two out of three people having raised cholesterol levels but not many realizing it.

We will give you an overview of best foods to eat to control your cholesterol balance, which foods to avoid and look at other important factors that will assist you in lowering your cholesterol naturally.

Your body is made up of roughly 63 percent water, 22 percent protein, 13 percent fat as well as 2 percent minerals and vitamins. Every single molecule in your body is constructed from the food you eat and the water you drink.

In this post we will show you how a range of delicious foods can be cholesterol reducing, why the soluble fiber available in a juicing diet are good for your heart and how you can continue to eat foods like meat which are often excluded from diets that lower cholesterol.


list of healthy foodsThe soluble fiber in juice act like a sponge to mop up the cholesterol in bile acids.


Understanding cholesterol basics


Before we get going on explaining which foods that lower cholesterol to include in your diet, it is important to get a good understanding of the different types of cholesterol.

The cholesterol level in your blood  consists of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).

LDL is known as the "bad” cholesterol because it blocks your blood vessels and increases your risk of heart disease.

HDL is known as your “good” cholesterol. The higher your HDL, the better.

The total cholesterol numbers also includes a triglycerides count. This is another potentially dangerous type of fat that can accumulate in your body and increase your risk for heart disease.


Good cholesterol numbers


The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, have the following measures to identify the ideal cholesterol numbers.

Total cholesterol

HDL cholesterol

LDL cholesterol

Triglycerides

Good

Less than 200

More than 40

Less than 100

Less than 150

High

240 and higher

N/A

More than 160

More than 200

Low

N/A

Less than 40

N/A

N/A



The goal is to achieve the right cholesterol balance.


The aim of eating foods that lower cholesterol is to:

  • Keep your total cholesterol numbers within a normal range
  • Choose foods that lower bad LDL cholesterol
  • Find foods that elevate good HDL cholesterol


Signs of high cholesterol


One of the scary things about high cholesterol is that it usually does not show any symptoms.

If you have high cholesterol you obviously want to know this before a catastrophic event like a heart attack or a stroke strikes you.

Identifying high cholesterol

A blood test is the only way to know if your cholesterol is too high. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. where it is responsible for almost 1 in every 4 deaths so testing is very important.

We suggest that everybody should have blood cholesterol tests done by their GP every now and then but especially if you are a high risk candidate i.e.

  • over aged 40 years.
  • overweight or obese.
  • aware of a history of coronary heart disease in your family.


Getting to foods that lower cholesterol


To be successful in getting to the ideal cholesterol levels a two part strategy will be required: Eat more foods that lower LDL cholesterol and less foods that boost LDL. 



Understanding good fats versus bad fats


The wrong facts can kill you while the right fats will heal you

The Fat mystery

Between 1976 and 2000 the American nation reduced their fat consumption by 11 percent and lowered their calorie intake by 4 percent. But what has happened to the weight of this nation during that period? Obesity has increased by 31 percent. There is a lot of confusion about what we should eat.

During the last two decades we have started eating too much saturated fats, and sugar and not enough complex carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fats.

In creating a diet for high cholesterol there is some important insights in the Lyon Diet Heart study. This study started in 1988 and involved more than 5 years of continuous monitoring.

The study revealed that a diet rich in healthy fats rather than a diet that is low in fat have the greatest benefits.



Saturated (hard) fat and unsaturated fat


You get two basic kinds of fat - saturated (hard) fat and unsaturated fat.

All the traditional diets for high cholesterol gave a high priority to restricting your intake of saturated fats.

The main sources of saturated fats are fatty meats and full-fat dairy products.

However, new research through the important Framingtion Heart Study revealed no link between high cholesterol levels and saturated fat intake.

Therefor for people that have:

  • a normal weight
  • no significant family history of high cholesterol levels
  • a good intake of fruits and vegetables

can relax about avoiding saturated fats at all cost if they want to follow diet to lower cholesterol.

On the other hand------------


Fats to avoid: Trans fatty acids


When certain oils are hydrogenated in the production of cooking fats and margarine's, some of them are converted into an unhealthy fat that you will not find in nature.

These fats are known as trans fats and they lurk in fried food, frozen dinners, salad dressings, a whole range of baked goods and many more foods.

Many studies have found a undeniable link between trans fatty acids and coronary heart disease.

Recent research also revealed a link between trans fatty acids and the development of type 2 diabetes so it safe to avoid these type of fats at all cost.


unhealthy foodProcessed food like this fried chicken often contain "hardened" fats also called "hydrogenated fats".


These fats are even worse for your health than saturated fats.

So it is important to limit these foods in a high cholesterol diet or even better to avoid it altogether.


The unsaturated fats we need for optimum heart health.


Unsaturated fats comes in two forms

Monounsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats

Monounsaturated fats can lower bad LDL cholesterol and may even raise good HDL cholesterol levels.

Good sources are almonds, macadamia oil, avocado oil as well as olive oil.

Some polyunsaturated fats lower LDL cholesterol.

Good source is nut and seed oils and fish but avoid sunflower and corn oils because they are highly processed and therefor very unhealthy.


Olive oil


One of the most important foods that lower cholesterol is extra virgin olive oil.

This is because olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids.

Olive oil is proven to increase healthy HDL cholesterol levels and lower unhealthy LDL cholesterol.


healthiest foodsOlive oil is a great source of monounsaturated fats


Omega 3 is associated with a healthy heart because it increases HDL cholesterol and also reduces the risk of stroke.

Good omega 3 food sources include fatty fish, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds.


Fatty fish


Some of the best omega-3 fatty acids you can be found is in fatty fish.

It is therefor a good idea to include fish like salmon and mackerel in your diet for high cholesterol.

The healthiest ways to prepare fish for heart health is to bake, broil or grill it.

Frying your fish is not the best way to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Walnuts also  contain a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids.


Soaking up cholesterol with soluble fiber


Fiber absorbs water in your digestive track which makes the food you consume bulkier and easier to pass through your body.

High fiber foods also help lower your risk of cancer, heart attack, and high blood pressure.

You should ideally not get less than 35 grams of dietary fiber in per day.


Fiber foods that lower cholesterol


Foods that lower cholesterol include healthy fats inclusion in your diet.

This provides you with a degree of flexibility to also include fats in your diet to lower cholesterol but how much proteins should you have for optimum heart health?

Protein is vital for the growth and the repairs of your cells.

You also need proteins to make hormones, enzymes, antibodies and neurotransmitters.

The quality as well as the quantity of protein sources you eat impacts your heart health.

The best quality protein comes from eggs, quinoa, meat, fish, beans and lentils.


healthy foods high in protein


Navy beans are at the top of the list when it comes to high fiber foods and one cup can provide a whopping 76% of your daily requirement.

Next on the list you get turnip greens, beet greens and mustard greens.

Also consume plenty whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds as well as lentils.

Our list of high fiber foods.


Water intake


Because two thirds of your body is made of water it is obviously very important for you health.

It is especially important when you increase your fiber intake as part of your diet to lower cholesterol naturally to drink plenty of water.



Avoid excessive alcohol, coffee and tea.




Protein food


The problem with protein sources from animal products is that they contain a lot of undesirable saturated fats.

If you source your protein from plant sources you will include complex carbohydrates that are much more beneficial to your health.

They are also less acid forming than meat.


Best protein foods that lower cholesterol


Beans, lentils, quinoa and "seed" vegetables like peas and runner beans.

In addition to healthy proteins vegetable proteins also have complex carbohydrates that boost your health.

These are less acid forming than meats.

Acid forming foods

Alkaline forming foods

  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Liver
  • Avocado
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Dried fruit
  • Almonds

Protein foods to avoid/limit


Excessive intake of animal source protein.


Risk associated between carbohydrates and increased cholesterol levels


Cholesterol can increase from a conditioned known as "metabolic syndrome"

This occurs when both glucose and insulin levels are raised.

If this happens your risk of heart disease increases. 

It happens when you have insulin resistance and your pancreas makes more insulin to overcome this insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance causes your blood pressure to increase. High levels of insulin and glucose have the potential of damaging coronary arteries.

This stimulates your liver to produce LDL cholesterol.

To make this even worse your body's production of HDL cholesterol is reduced.

In addition to this, another harmful blood fat triglycerides increases.


Fats and protein are your long-term fuel source, while carbohydrates meet your body's sort-term, most immediate energy requirements.

Carbohydrates comes in two forms

Fast releasing carbohydrates

Slow releasing carbohydrates

Sources are sugar, honey, malt and most refined foods

Whole grains, vegetables and fresh fruit.


The problem with fast releasing carbohydrates ate that it gives you a sudden burst of energy which will typically be followed by a slump.

Your best strategy for peak energy is to get in more slow-releasing carbohydrates because they will present you with a more sustainable level of energy.


Carbohydrate foods that lower cholesterol


Dark green leafy and root vegetables.


Carbohydrate rich foods to avoid


Any form of sugar.



Also limit or avoid white and refined foods.



This allows to the fiber to do its work with maximum effectiveness.

Also remember that fruits and vegetables consists of around 90 percent water.


Vitamin and heart health


Vitamins turn on enzymes. 

Vitamins are necessary to balance hormones, produce energy, boost your immune system, make healthy skin and is very important to your brain and nervous system. 

Vitamins in the form of antioxidants neutralize free radicals.

When free radicals come into contact with LDL cholesterol it oxides the cholesterol.

This cholesterol than  is more likely to the hardening of you arteries.

Vitamin A, C and E are antioxidants that protect your body from cancers.

Vitamins B and C are necessary to turn the food you eat into mental and physical energy. These vitamins are in their most potent form in living foods like fresh fruit and vegetables.

Vitamin D controls your calcium balance.

Vitamin E is found in seeds, nuts and their oils.


Suggested best sources of vitamins


Dark green leafy and root vegetables.


best vitamin rich foods


Also target fresh fruit as well as nuts and seeds.


Mineral foods that lower cholesterol.


You need minerals for every bodily process.

Calcium, magnesium and phosphorus builds your bones and teeth.

Your nerve signals used by your brain and muscles to function depend on magnesium, sodium and potassium.

To maximize your mineral intake you should avoid processed food which are stripped of this vital nutrient necessary to control cholesterol

Zinc is vital for body repairs and renewal.

You need large amounts of calcium and magnesium from your food.

They can be found in abundance in vegetables such as kale, cabbage and root vegetables


Copper


Copper lowers cholesterol and can also prevent high blood pressure.

Some of the best sources of copper can be found in:

  • lean meats
  • tea
  • coffee
  • cocoa
  • nuts
  • green leafy vegetables
  • most sea foods
  • legumes


Manganese and magnesium


For optimum heart health you will need to consume magnesium rich foods.

A lack of manganese can results in reduced levels HDL - the good cholesterol in your blood.

It may also promote the binding of LDL cholesterol to artery walls which off course increase  the risk of heart disease.


Best sources of this important mineral is fruit, green vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Your most nutrient dense magnesium foods are:

Pumpkin seeds

48% of your daily value (per cup)

Spinach

39% of your daily value (per cup)


Calcium


Then you will have to look at some calcium foods. Your best calcium rich foods are:

Collard greens

Supplies 27% of your daily value (per cup)

Spinach

Supplies 24% of your daily value (per cup)


Potassium


Finally to ensure getting sufficient minerals in your diet you will need potassium. Here some of your best choices include:

Beet greens

Supplies 37% of your daily value (per cup)

Swiss chard

Supplies 27% of your daily value (per cup)


Many more fruits and vegetables contain high levels of potassium with low levels of sodium in the perfect ratio.


Shopping


From all the information above it is clear  you need to include plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and shift to protein mostly from plants when you go shopping. 


Figuring out food labels

Food labels usually focus on fat, saturates, sugar and sodium which are things that concern people who are trying to prevent or control heart disease.

But labels can mislead you:

  • Food that is low in fat may be high in sugar.
  • Low fat foods is not always good for you because it can be high in calories.
  • Even very small amounts of trans fats can be harmful to your heart health.
  • Food labels are not required to provide information on the amount of cholesterol present in the food.


Wrapping up your diet for foods that lower cholesterol 


If you include these foods in your diet you will consume all the healthy fats, protein, carbohydrates, water, vitamins and minerals you need in a diet with plenty foods that lower cholesterol. In the process you will:

  • Keep your total cholesterol numbers within a normal range
  • Choose foods that lower bad LDL cholesterol
  • Find foods that elevate good HDL cholesterol

A further bonus to this type of diet is that it will also:

  • boost your immune system
  • increase your energy and fitness levels
  • turn back the aging clock
  • lower your blood pressure



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