- Enough has already been written about the ill effects of cholesterol.
- A major (though not the only one) contributor to the build-up of plaque in our arteries is the elevated levels of cholesterol.
- And the level of cholesterol in our blood is largely governed by the food we eat.
The biggest contributor to heart disease is cholesterol-caused blockages in the blood vessels that hamper the heart’s smooth working. Cholesterol is that waxy (sticky) and light substance that is produced by our lives. Our body needs some cholesterol but not too much.
Famed US nutritionist Joy Bauer told Today.com about foods that can help your heart, spotlighting foods that can help lower your cholesterol, including apples, lentils and avocados. .
Joy Bauer says, “When we eat junk food diets that are high in saturated fats, trans fats and sugar, our livers get prompted to produce way too much cholesterol. This cholesterol then travels throughout the body, collecting all sorts of inflammatory substances and dumps it all on the inner walls of our arteries in the form of plaque.”
Joy says that the good news is that you can eat foods that can help lower cholesterol.
How to tweak your diet to lower cholesterol?
Indian diet is well balanced and extremely appetizing. The spices and additives such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, chilli peppers etc only add to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory base. But during the preparation process, people usually tend to put a lot of oil, ghee, sugar or spices which robs it of its goodness.
Changing what foods you eat can lower your cholesterol and improve the armada of fats floating through your bloodstream. If you eat a low-cholesterol diet, you need not worry about artery-clogging atherosclerosis.
Add these foods to lower LDL cholesterol:
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol, say Harvard experts.
- Apples: A study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating two whole apples daily can lower blood cholesterol, helping to prevent a heart attack or a stroke. The study found that when participants ate two fresh apples a day they had lower blood cholesterol than when they drank apple juice. Clearly, the fiber in whole apples that one retains when the fruit is not juiced is the key factor here, playing a promising role in promoting heart health. Apple skin contains a carbohydrate called pectin – buried in its skin. Pectin latches on to the LDL cholesterol and drags it out of the body when the unabsorbed solids are thrown out of the body. Pectin in apples — along with the other types of fiber, is a good food source for the healthy bacteria in the human gut known as the microbiome, which has been linked to everything from weight loss to mental health. Apples, oranges, carrots, peaches, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits – all contain this pectin – the type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.
- Beans: Whether farm-fresh green or sun-dried, beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for those of us who are trying to lose weight. You are really spoilt for choices when it comes to the various types of beans available: navy beans, kidney beans, lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas are just some of the types of beans and you can cook them in a manner best suited to your taste buds. Just be mindful of not overdoing the fats and calorie bit while you chase taste.
Okra: Also known as ladyfinger, bhindi etc, the okra seedpod may substantially lower levels of LDL lipids, claim a few studies. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber. Science Direct reports on a study carried out by the researchers at Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran. In their quest to confirm the cholesterol-lowering properties of Okra, researchers administered okra seed oil to hypercholesterolemic rats. The researchers of this study published earlier this year in the journal Food Science and Technology said, “Okra seed oil plays a crucial role in the maintenance of lipid profile in the body”. The okra pods contain a gel-like substance known as mucilage which could help the body excrete dangerous LDL cholesterol when passing stool. Eggplant: Eggplant, aubergine or brinjal is a plant species in the nightshade family Solanaceae. A story carried out at the Faculdades de Ciências Médicas, UNICAMP, Campinas, in Portugal aimed at studying the effect of eggplant on endothelium-dependent relaxation, and plasma lipids in hypercholesterolemic rabbits. 13 male rabbits were randomly assigned to control (C), hypercholesterolemic (H) and eggplant (E) treated groups (n = 10 each). The H and E rabbits were fed a diet supplemented with cholesterol (0.5 per cent) and coconut oil (10 per cent) for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, the E group rabbits had a significantly lower weight, plasma cholesterol, LDL, triglyceride and aortic cholesterol content than group H (p < 0.05).
- Vegetable oils: There are two main types of fat (saturated and unsaturated) and we need some of each. Eating a healthy balance of fats can help to lower your cholesterol levels. Excessive consumption of saturated fat will raise your cholesterol. How does one tell which is good and which is the bad type of fat? Heart.org says saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature. Avoid consuming more than the recommended amount of fats derived from animals and from coconut products. Stay away from dairy foods such as cream, cheese and full-fat milk and yogurt, butter and other solid fats such as ghee, lard and hard margarine. Also bad for your heart are fatty and processed meats such as sausages and bacon coconut and palm oil. Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or at the table helps lower LDL. Unsaturated fats (different types of unsaturated fat known as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) are found in plant foods and oily fish, and they are usually liquid at room temperature. That is why nuts, avocados, oil from seeds of sunflower, safflower, rapeseed, olive, peanut, walnut and corn oil, oily fish such as herring, pilchards, mackerel, salmon and trout that contain omega 3 fats are good for you.
(Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet.)