Cholesterol Levels Causing Worry? Opt For These Foods
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease accounts for 31% of all worldwide deaths. One contributing risk factor of heart disease is having high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol leads to the buildup of fatty deposits within the arteries and this can heighten the risk for heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.
Causes of high cholesterol
Despite various studies debunking the myth that dietary cholesterol is correlated with an increased risk for heart disease in most cases, it is still seen as a dirty word. Nonetheless, the body needs it more than we think. Made by the liver, the body uses cholesterol ensure the functionality of the cells, nerve and hormones. Aside from genetics, other contributing factors for high levels of cholesterol include a sedentary lifestyle, stress and diabetes. However, the biggest contributing factor is definitely diet choice. If your diet happens to be highly inflammatory, this can potentially elevate the levels of LDL cholesterol as well as lower HDL (good cholesterol).
Cholesterol doesn’t become a problem until inflammation occurs. As it’s already in our body, cholesterol takes the form of lipids (fatty acids) and it travels through the bloodstream. When inflammation occurs, the LDL lipids buildup in the arteries, which is where the problem begins. This build-up leads to plaques which later cut off blood flow and this will soon results in a heart attack or stroke. Moreover, inflammation can also cause the arteries to both harden and stiffen. It’s no wonder that inflammation is a common precursor for most cardiovascular diseases. Fortunately, your cholesterol levels can be regulated through your diet choices. Aside from staying clear of processed foods, you can also choose the right foods to help you naturally lower your LDL levels. Read on to find out exactly what those foods are.
An apple a day could keep the bad cholesterol away. Aside from containing various other nutrients, apples are also rich in the soluble fiber pectin. Being a soluble fibre, pectin forms a gel when it comes into contact with water. When this happens in the body, the pectin gel binds to excess fatty acids, preventing the body from absorbing it.
One study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that consuming whole apples could decrease your LDL levels by at least 6%.
Avocados are extremely dense in monounsaturated fats, which means they’re perfect for heart health. Being rich in the right type of fats allows for them to help decrease your LDL cholesterol as well as increase your HDL cholesterol. One meta-analysis study concluded that using avocados over other fats helped to significantly lower LDL levels. Avocados also contain soluble fiber and the phytochemical beta-sitosterol. This phytochemical helps to regulate the amount of cholesterol absorbed by the body.
Chocolate lovers rejoice. Whether you’re enjoying a dark chocolate cube or getting lost in a steaming cup of cocoa; it’s clear that cocoa powder contains compounds that can help to lower LDL cholesterol. The cocoa prevents LDL from oxidizing which lessens the risk for heart disease. A study from the European Journal of Nutrition highlighted the positive impacts that cocoa can have on LDL levels. A separate study revealed that healthy adults who consumed cocoa beverages twice a day for a month saw a reduction in their LDL levels, blood pressure and an increase in HDL cholesterol. Before you start to stock up on all things cocoa, however, remember that most chocolates are rich in added sugars. Opt for dark chocolate with a cocoa content of +75%.
Fatty fish are extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids and this helps to protect and maintain large aspects of one’s health. The content of omega-3s found in fatty fish, that include salmon, mackerel and herring, help to lower both LDL levels and boost HDL levels as well as easing inflammation. In doing so; fatty fish helps to lower the risk of stroke and heart disease. One study found that older adults who consumed tuna or other baked or broiled fish at least once a week faced reduce risk of stroke by 27%.
Certain nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, are extremely dense in healthy fats and this provides heart-protective abilities making them the perfect snack food. One study found that nuts can help to lower cholesterol as well as protect the artery walls against the formation of plaque buildup. The compounds found in some nuts also contain anti-inflammatory properties.
Olive oil is a main proponent in the Mediterranean diet, which makes it perfect for protecting heart health. Being rich in monounsaturated fats, olive oil is both anti-inflammatory and it can also help lower LDL cholesterol.
By including these foods in your diet, you’re to lower both your cholesterol and your risk for heart disease. Moreover, be sure to avoid inflammatory foods in order to maintain your heart health. Such foods include processed foods, sugar, excessive alcohol, and refined grains.
Want to put this knowledge this good use?
Click on the link for our delicious recipe on tuna steak with romesco sauce and garlic leeks – perfect for healthy cholesterol levels as well as great eating!