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12 Top Foods to Naturally Lower Cholesterol (#7 is Insane!)
When you have high levels of LDL cholesterol, the bad type of cholesterol, your doctors will call it hypercholesterolemia. According to the CDC, more than one third of Americans suffer from this condition. People of all ages, genders, and ethnicities can have high cholesterol levels.
The problem with high cholesterol is that it greatly increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and heart attacks. Since high cholesterol levels are a problem that shows no symptoms whatsoever, you should have your levels checked regularly and work diligently to keep them under control to limit your risk of developing serious cardiovascular problems.
Certain factors are out of your control, of course, such as genetics or hypothyroidism; however, many other factors which contribute to high cholesterol are completely under your control such as:
- Poor diet
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Large waist circumference
Simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can help you lower your cholesterol levels. There are also foods that naturally lower your cholesterol levels. Imagine how great that would be, lowering your cholesterol simply by eating!
Keep reading and find out which of the top 12 foods you should be eating more of in order to lower your cholesterol levels naturally.
1. Dark Chocolate
Wow. Lowering your cholesterol levels has never tasted so sweet! The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study which found that theobromine, a substance found in dark chocolate, lowered LDL cholesterol levels while improving the good type of cholesterol. Dark chocolate has flavonoids and high levels of powerful antioxidants that prevent blood platelets from sticking together, which will help to keep arteries clear. This can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. Eating just one ounce of dark chocolate (which contains at least 60 percent cocoa) on a regular basis will help to keep your arteries clear and your cholesterol levels down.
Although this isn’t actually a food, this type of fiber supplement is quite effective and regular consumption can lower your LDL cholesterol levels as much as 10 percent. Psyllium is a powdered fiber that is mixed with water and consumed as a beverage. Always consult with your physician before consumption since it can interfere with the absorption of certain types of prescription medications. Begin with 3 grams of psyllium each day and gradually increase the amount until you are consuming 10 or 12 grams each day. Psyllium is available at all drug stores and most health foods stores.
This is perhaps the best known way to naturally lower cholesterol levels. Oatmeal works by reducing the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed into the blood. The high fiber content of oatmeal will also lower LDL cholesterol levels. As an added bonus, eating oats regularly has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. So make your breakfast a cholesterol lowering one by eating a bowl of oatmeal! You can also add oatmeal to smoothies or consume baked goods that contain oatmeal to lower your cholesterol levels as much as possible.
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This superfood fights heart disease by decreasing cholesterol levels, preventing blood clots, and lowering blood pressure. The National Institute of Integrative Medicine issued a press release in 2013 which showed that an extract from garlic was an effective and safer alternative to pharmaceutical cholesterol lowering medications. Garlic is at its most effective when consumed raw. Slightly crush one or two cloves of organic garlic, wait 10 minutes, then swallow whole. If you can’t stomach that much garlic, try chopping and slicing garlic and use it in your salads, veggie dishes, soups, and stews. Stir fry it as little as possible to keep all the active ingredients from being cooked out of your garlic.
This is another great snack that can help to lower your cholesterol levels. Almonds contain plenty of polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and fiber, which can not only reduce your LDL levels but they help to raise your HDL levels. Nutrition Review published a study in 2011 which found that eating almonds reduced LDL cholesterol by as much as 19 percent. Another study, published in the Journal of American Heart Association this year found that daily consumption of almonds can be a simple way to prevent cardio-metabolic diseases! Just one ounce each day (about a handful) is all you need to get all the healthy benefits almonds have to offer us.
Wow, this list just gets tastier, doesn’t it? Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats, which are helpful for reducing the LDL levels for those who are overweight. These types of fats not only lower bad cholesterol, but they raise the good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Avocados are also a rich source of protein and fiber. Guacamole, anyone?
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7. Red Wine
This might sound crazy, but red wine can actually increase your good (HDL) cholesterol by as much as 15 percent! Research shows that red wine contains polyphenol antioxidants, which lower LDL levels. If you aren’t a fan of wine, grape juice can provide many of the same benefits. Excessive alcohol consumption is very bad for your health, so stick to one 5 ounce glass of wine each day for women and two glasses each day for men. Snacking on red or purple grapes is also a great way to help lower your cholesterol levels and add much needed fiber in your diet.
8. Orange Juice
Orange juice for breakfast is as American as apple pie! According to a study published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition journal in 2000, research showed that orange juice improves the overall cholesterol levels for those with high cholesterol. This is due to the folates, flavonoids such as hesperidin, and vitamin C content in oranges. You can eat two oranges each day or drink two or three cups of freshly squeezed orange juice each day to lower your overall cholesterol levels.
9. Olive Oil
This popular oil is high in monounsaturated fats, which can help to lower those LDL cholesterol levels. It is also high in vitamin E, an important antioxidant which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Just 2 tablespoons of olive oil each day can lower your cholesterol levels and is a tasty addition to any diet.
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Salmon, and other fatty fish, contain essential omega-3 fatty acids, which can provide you natural relief from high cholesterol. It improves your good cholesterol while lowering your triglyceride and LDL levels. Salmon is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Baked or grilled salmon is your best option. Aim to eat two servings of three ounces each several times per week.
11. Green Tea
One of the simplest ways to reduce total cholesterol levels is to drink a few cups of green tea each day. This type of tea will lower fasting serum total as well as LDL cholesterol levels, according to a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials which was published in the 2011 journal of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Green tea prevents the absorption of cholesterol as well as helping to remove it from the body. Drink 3 to 4 cups of green tea each day.
Consumption of soybeans and products made from soy can lower LDL cholesterol levels. The Journal of American College of Nutrition published a study which found that eating 30 grams of soy protein each day had a significant impact on cholesterol levels. Eat more tofu, soy flour, enriched soy milk, and edamame in your diet to naturally lower cholesterol levels.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
- Avoid fried foods and processed sugar
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, 5 days each week
Enjoy life! Eat healthy foods directly from Mother Nature and she will reward you with good health and lower cholesterol levels, naturally.