Since the foods we choose to eat are the root cause of high cholesterol levels in most people who have this problem, eating lower cholesterol foods is one way to maintain lower levels of cholesterol and manage the proper balance of LDL and HDL levels in your body. Therefore it is important to know which foods can increase or decrease your cholesterol levels.
Knowing a little about the fats you consume is a big step towards controlling your cholesterol levels. The major foods that have an adverse affect on increasing cholesterol levels are those containing saturated fats and trans fats. These are the animal products and dairy products, and also the vegetable oils that have been turned from liquid state to solid state typically found in many margarines, processed and convenience foods. This group of foods should either be avoided or be only a small part of your overall diet.
On the other hand, foods containing unsaturated fats have a beneficial affect on lowering your cholesterol levels. These include vegetable oils, seed oils and oily fish.
So by simply making wise choices about the fats in your diet can make a huge difference in controlling and maintaining your cholesterol levels. Including more fish and minimizing processed and convenience foods will make even more difference. These days food labeling on packaged foods is helpful to you in that it shows you the saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol content of the food.
Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet is another important step in lowering cholesterol levels. The source of fiber is plant foods and there are basically two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is dissolved by water and insoluble fiber is not. Your body doesn’t break down and digest fiber but it is of great benefit to your health as it can speed the movement of foods through your intestines.
Whole grain foods like wheat bran and also many fruit and vegetables contain insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is present in beans, lentils, peas, apples, oats, citrus fruits, and sweet root vegetables. Soluble fiber is more efficient at removing cholesterol than insoluble fiber. Oat bran is an excellent food for lowering cholesterol as it has the effect of binding bile acids in the intestines which promotes the loss of more bile acids, which in turn causes more cholesterol to be used in replacing the bile acids.
There have been many studies done on oats and cholesterol which support it as one of the super lower cholesterol foods for cholesterol management. Another super-food for cholesterol control is garlic which has also been the focus of many studies.
Vitamins also play a role in managing cholesterol levels. Vitamins C, A and beta carotene can help prevent the accumulation of cholesterol in the blood vessels and lower cholesterol levels. Vitamin B3 (niacin) which is one of the B-complex vitamins has been found to have amazing effects on raising HDL (the good cholesterol) levels, and is usually one of the vitamins found in multi-vitamin supplements. Resveratrol an antioxidant found in grape skins and red wine has also been found to lower cholesterol levels. The real benefit of antioxidants is that they can help prevent cholesterol forming into deposits of plaque in the blood vessels.
Some other foods you may want to consider in lowering cholesterol include the following:
- Almonds – high in monounsaturated fats they can decrease LDL
- Apples – the soluble fiber pectin found in apples helps to remove cholesterol during the digestion process
- Artichokes – contain cynarin which can encourage the liver to produce more bile which helps eliminate cholesterol
- Avocados – high in monounsaturated fats and also oleic acid which both have a beneficial effect on lowering cholesterol
- Carrots – another good source of soluble fiber which removes cholesterol during digestion
- Olive oil – high in monounsaturated fats they can decrease LDL
Changing your dietary habits to manage your cholesterol levels may be difficult at first. But the secret is to take small steps. Try to eliminate or reduce foods that increase cholesterol levels, and at the same time introduce foods that lower cholesterol levels. There are many lower cholesterol foods to choose from, so the dietary changes can actually be quite enjoyable.