Let me tell you the truth.
I’m doing the best I can. I exercise as often as my schedule allows, I make a conscious effort to avoid processed foods and keep a bottle of water with me at all times – you must see the looks on clients faces when I walk into meetings with my active water bottle.
But it turns out it’s not enough.
Staying healthy is less about what the scales says and more about what goes in you. Lowering your cholesterol or keeping it at normal, safe levels is a struggle for millions of people.
Perhaps you’re struggling with a high cholesterol yourself.
Perhaps you’ve thoughts of getting statins to control it or you’re already a natural supplement as per your doctor’s advice.
But you want to be able to control your cholesterol naturally. No chemicals. No fifteen-syllables long ingredients you can’t even pronounce. You want the real thing.
So here’s my truth.
One I live by in the last three years.
You Can Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally
I keep my cholesterol in check by eating these five classes foods. And so far, I’ve managed to keep the doctor and her statins at bay, so it must work.
There’s no magic recipe. no fancy cholesterol-lowering strategy to speak of. Just a traditional, old-fashioned approach in which you make your best to include all five of these foods into your diet.
Before delving into the dream team of cholesterol-lowering foods let’s clear up a thing or two about cholesterol.
LDL is the bad guy, the low-density lipoprotein that increases your risk of cardiovascular disease because of its atherogenic ability, it’s ability to create a plaque around your arteries.
And then, there’s the good guy, the HDL, the high-density lipoprotein which protects you against CVDs and even works hard to transfer cholesterol to your liver.
Am I in a high risk for high cholesterol?
If you smoke, are overweight, do not exercise and have a family history of high cholesterol you might be at risk yourself.
To check your cholesterol levels, you take a simple lipoprotein profile blood test that shows your levels of total, LDL, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
An LDL of less than 100mg/dL is optimal while 190mg/dL or higher is considered high and you should make lifestyle changes to lower it.
Here’s the LDL cholesterol levels according to the NIH Mediline PLus
Now as promised here are the five foods/classes of foods that can help you lower your cholesterol naturally
#1 Soy and Soy-derived products to lower your cholesterol
Think tofu, soy milk, soy nut butter, and soy beans. These little fellas can help reduce your cholesterol by a significant amount should they become part of a consistent diet.
Phytosterols which are essentially proteins with minimum traces of cholesterol are abundant in tofu, so it’s no brainer that substituting meat and fish at least once weekly could help decrease your cholesterol levels.
The Harvard Medical School suggests that 25gr of soy protein per day lowers your LDL cholestrol by 5-6%.
However be smart about it.
There’s no soy protein in soybean oil and soy sauce. So consume these in moderation.
#2 Fish and Polyunsaturated monounsaturated fats
What’s that you say? These are fats that are good for you – as opposed to trans fats and saturated fats.
Let me explain.
Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are proven to lower your bad cholesterol (LDL). So where do you get these cholesterol lowering fatty acids then? In one word fish. Think salmon, herrings, tuna, mackerel and trout.
You might think that eating more fats while your trying to lower your cholesterol is counter-intuitive but it’s not.
Healthy fats like those found in fatty fish, soy and nuts improve your metabolism so essentially increasing body fat is less likely compared to following a low-fat diet high in carb-derived calories.
The idea is clear.
Include good fats in your diet to lower your cholesterol and improve your metabolism and avoid fatty acids that send your cholesterol levels through the roof.
These include foods we all consume on a weekly if not more regularly; margarine and shortening, French fries and chips, ice-cream and non-dairy coffee creamers, diary products and highly processed foods like store-bought cookies, cakes, biscuits and other salty and sweet snacks.
#3 Going Nuts for Nuts
There’s no shortage of studies that have shown nuts can lower your bad cholesterol. Overall, it is recommended that 2 ounces of nuts every day can reduce your LDL by up to 5 percent.
Substitute store-bought snacks like crackers and cakes with walnuts, almonds, and peanuts to protect your heart and reduce your cholesterol.
#4 Oats and other high-fibre foods
Anything with oats in it is good for your cholesterol. Have a bowl of hot oatmeal for breakfast, sprinkle it with cholesterol-reducing cinnamon and some dried berries and you’ve gotten off a great start to your day.
Apart from the fact that oats can be used in foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner and in a number of foods, (think oatmeal, oat-based burgers, muffins or pancakes), oats are high in fibre which are beneficial as they can lower both your total and LDL cholesterol
Oats lower your risk for cardiovascular disease says the FDA while it was also found that it specifically lowers your risk for coronary heart disease. A study in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found exactly that. And then some more. The researchers discovered that as part of a healthy lifestyle, a diet rich in oats can apart from improving your lipoprotein profile can have other health benefits too.
#5 Beans and Lentils
Beans are great for your heart. Whether it’s kidney, black or white beans, these legumes contain almost zero fats and ensure you get a healthy dose of fibre, vitamins and minerals while at it.
A healthy and cheaper alternative to meat, beans and lentils can lower your cholesterol because of their high concentration in soluble fibre.
To better grasp the power of beans to lower your cholesterol consider this.
A cup of beans per day can in just 6 weeks lower your cholesterol by as much as 10%!
So what’s the trick here?
None. Beans – because they’re high in soluble fibre – when in your stomach they form a gel substance that acts as a magnet for cholesterol preventing its absorption back into your body.
Both the FDA and the National Cancer Institute say getting 20 grams to 30 grams of fiber a day is ideal for adults.
A cup of cooked black beans gives you almost 20gr!
#6 It’s Apples And Oranges
Fruit and vegetable should be a stable food in your quest to lower your cholesterol.
Colourful fruit and vegetables are rich in fibre and have the power to lower your cholesterol levels because as opposed to processed foods they are have none of the bad fats of animal-derived foods. Think trans and saturated fats.
On the contrary.
Fruit like apples work like magic lowering your cholesterol.
The saying, “an apple a day” is no coincidence. Apples contain polyphenols that have been proven to prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol, the process which is the starting point for the clogging of your arteries with plaque.
But even if you’re not an apple fan, many other foods can give you the fibre and cholesterol-fighting goodness. Choose pears, prunes, grapefruit and vegetables like spinach, okra and broccoli.
Don’t forget avocados though!
They’re an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, fats that improve your good cholesterol and lower your bad one. Could avocados be any greater? We don’t think so!
Lowering Your Cholesterol Doesn’t Have To Be Hard
Reduce your daily intake of diary products and meat and go for more vegetables, fruit and legumes. Use olive oil for cooking, substitute meat with soy products and welcome more fatty fish with omega-3 into your diet.
Combined with mild exercising, these foods can naturally reduce your bad cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease.