If you have unhealthy cholesterol levels (or want to prevent them), one of the first things you should examine is your diet. Are you eating foods that help reduce cholesterol? Or avoiding the ones that cause unhealthy cholesterol levels to creep higher? If not, here are 10 cholesterol-lowering foods you should grab next time you’re at the grocery store.
Lowering your bad (LDL) cholesterol can make your Real Age 3.3 years younger if you’re a man, 0.6 years younger if you’re a woman!
Almonds are hardworking nuts when it comes to lowering your cholesterol. First, they are rich in unsaturated fats that help raise healthy HDL cholesterol while lowering unhealthy LDL. Second, these fats also help make LDL cholesterol less likely to oxidize.
A review of 84 scientific studies revealed that getting 2 grams of phytosterols a day - the amount in a couple 8-ounce glasses of sterol-fortified OJ -- could help lower harmful LDL levels by more than 8 percent.
In fact, in a study of people with high cholesterol, blood samples showed less potential for harmful clotting just two hours after the study subjects ate a meal with olive oil. That’s because olive oil is rich in phenolics, plant substances that makes blood less likely to clot.
There’s nothing wrong with a platter of crudités or a salad if you want to improve your diet, but steaming may help improve the cholesterol-lowering capabilities of some produce, including asparagus. Other veggies that get better after a short bout in the steam: beets, okra, carrots, eggplant, green beans, and cauliflower. Researchers think steaming these veggies may help them do a better job of binding bile acids, which means your liver needs to use up more LDL cholesterol into order to make bile.
Your mama was right. Starting the day with a bowl of warm, toasty oatmeal is a smart move. Of all the whole grains, oats are the best source of soluble fiber -- the kind that forms a gel to prevent cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream.
Next time you make chili, add pinto beans to the pot. They’re packed with soluble fiber to help drive down cholesterol. And in a study, people who ate a half-cup of pinto beans a day lowered their total cholesterol by 8 percent in just 12 weeks. Ole! (Tip: If you use canned beans, rinse them to wash away excess sodium.)
You’ve heard by now that blueberries are a nutritious super food. One reason why they’re so great? They help keep your arteries clear by reducing blood levels of artery-clogging LDL. Researchers suspect it’s because the berries support liver function so well. The result: cholesterol is swept out of your system much more easily.
Researchers think the lycopene in tomatoes inhibits LDL production while at the same time helping break down this artery-clogging fat. You’ll need to consume at least 25 milligrams of lycopene a day for cholesterol benefits. That’s about a half cup of tomato sauce. Bring on the marinara!
Mash avocado into guacamole, add slices to a sandwich, chop it up in a salad, or -- for a tasty snack -- simply spread a little on whole-grain crackers with a tiny pinch of coarse sea salt.
If you’re a chocoholic, here’s some good news. Study after study confirms dark chocolate is amazing, healthy stuff.
It’s full of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that help lower cholesterol. It also has oleic acid, the same type of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. To improve your cholesterol, just have a little nibble -- up to 1 ounce of dark chocolate a day. And check the label to make sure your chocolate is at least 70 percent cocoa. Cocoa is the stuff with all the heart-healthy ingredients.