To maintain a healthy heart and body, eating foods which lower cholesterol is an important choice you should make. Since cholesterol in your diet is primarily from animal products, dairy products, trans fats, processed and convenience foods these are the obvious foods to avoid or minimize in your normal diet.
Apart from avoiding high cholesterol foods there are foods that can actually help to reduce your cholesterol levels. Some may counter the effects of excess LDL (the bad cholesterol), while others may increase the level of HDL (the good cholesterol). Here are some of the many foods and dietary choices that could help you to lower and control your cholesterol levels.
1) Oat Bran
Oat bran is high in soluble fiber content. Most probably the leading food in that area. Fiber is a complex carbohydrate which passes through the body’s digestive system and is mostly not digested. Being a soluble fiber the oats form a gel-like consistency which during the digestion process wraps around cholesterol preventing its absorption. This digestive process makes soluble fiber such as oats beneficial for many other things as well. It can also trap carbohydrates and harmful chemicals and prevent their absorption which means it will contribute to weight loss, controlling blood sugar, and lower your risk of problems in the digestive tract such as colon cancer and other chronic diseases.
2) Other Foods with Good Soluble Fiber Content
Although not as good as oat bran, these foods will work to lower cholesterol through the same digestive process as that described for oat bran. Many of these foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Although I have only included here those foods with a greater soluble fiber content. These include brown rice, rolled oats, psyllium husks, apples, apricots, grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, and pinto beans. That is not to say other high fiber foods are not good for your health. But for helping to target lower cholesterol specifically I have listed some of the primary foods to consider. Most other fiber foods will also contain some soluble fiber in any case so they will assist as well and are necessary for a balanced diet. Like many things it’s more a matter of balance than it is of extremes.
3) Fruit and Vegetables
These foods are very low in fats and do not contain cholesterol. Therefore their additional benefits for lowering cholesterol, apart from providing fiber content, is that they are excellent substitutes for a dietary habit of animal products, dairy products, processed and convenience foods. They are very easy to introduce into your diet, are very satisfying and tasty, and will mean you start to eat less of the high cholesterol foods. They can be eaten as main courses, desserts, accompaniments or even snacks during the day. They are good foods which lower cholesterol particularly by replacing other foods containing cholesterol.
4) Fish and Other Foods Containing Essential Fatty Acids
There have been many clinical trials done which prove without doubt that the oils contained in fish lower cholesterol levels. The main reason for this is that fish oil is very high in one of the essential fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid, which is contained in Omega-3. A similar alpha-linoleic acid is found in some other oils such as that from flaxseeds, linseeds, soy, and walnuts. So these are all good foods which lower cholesterol. The oily fish species such as salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, trout and kippers are the better choices. If you are unable to add these foods to your diet it is recommended that appropriate supplements be considered.
The foods mentioned above are all very good foods for general health. They not only can help you control your cholesterol levels but will assist in many other ways in promoting your health. Most important is to remember to always use common sense in making food choices. If you are better informed about the subject you will become aware of the foods which lower cholesterol and you can begin to adopt healthier dietary habits to manage your cholesterol levels and maintain your health.