In case you don’t know, cholesterol is an essential fatty substance your liver produces to help your body process vitamin D, break down food and make vital hormones.
There are two main types of cholesterol found in the body: high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). What most people call high cholesterol is a condition in which the level of LDL (sometimes called bad cholesterol) goes out of balance in your bloodstream.
High levels of LDL can block blood flow and cause blood clots, which increases the risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes. Luckily, there are many things you can do to lower LDL levels, including introducing more of the following ‘cholesterol busting’ foods into your daily diet.
Starting the day with a bowl of porridge or another oat-based cereal can do wonders for lowering your cholesterol. Oats contain something called soluble fibre, which absorbs bad cholesterol and prevents it from entering your bloodstream via the body’s digestive system. Previous studies suggest a large bowl of porridge can reduce cholesterol by as much as 23% while also lowering blood pressure.
As well as being naturally low in saturated fat, soya-based foods are high in protein, vitamins, minerals and from the all-important cholesterol lowering perspective, soluble fibre. Adding tofu to a stir-fry, swapping full fat milk for soya milk and snacking on edamame beans throughout the day is a great idea if you’re looking to reduce your levels of bad cholesterol.
A two-year Walnuts and Healthy Ageing (WAHA) study found that walnuts positively impact blood cholesterol levels. The reason? Walnuts are high in both soluble fibre and plant sterols, two key components for reducing harmful cholesterol. Therefore, snacking on walnuts and adding them to salads and other delicious meals can help you maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in your blood.
Research conducted by Florida State University proves that an apple a day really can keep the doctor away. The study added a daily dose of apples to the diet of 160 women for 12 months. Blood samples taken from the women at three, six and twelve-month intervals revealed that levels of bad cholesterol plummeted by as much as 23%. And better still, the extra fruity calories didn’t lead to weight gain for the ladies involved.
Few foods are as fibrous as beans. This means every type of bean is full of soluble fibre, which we already know is exceptional at lowering cholesterol. Adding kidney, black, chickpea, butter or any other type of bean that takes your fancy to salads, chilis, soups, pastas, burritos and tacos can help you battle bad cholesterol. What’s more, beans are cheap and tasty, so it’s win-win.
Spinach, the king of leafy greens, is packed full of lutein, which protects arteries and veins from hardening and clogging. Studies indicate that a diet rich in lutein can also help to lower levels of harmful cholesterol in the blood. If you’re looking for an easy way to introduce spinach to your diet, try adding half a cup of the veg to a suitable smoothie; after all, if it’s good enough for Popeye, it’s good enough for you.
Your body doesn’t produce essential omega-3 fatty acids naturally, which means you need to get them from your diet. Anchovies, salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel and trout are full of omega-3s, which can help you manage your cholesterol by lowering triglyceride levels. However, it’s important to note that deep frying your fish is likely to introduce harmful fats, so stick to low-fat preparation methods such as broiling or grilling.
A diet containing all the healthy foods listed above will help you keep your cholesterol levels in check. Nevertheless, for the best results, you’ll need to combine eating right with staying active. If you need a little help making the right healthy choices and sticking to them, come and join us at our beautiful Devon retreat.
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