Has your doctor told you that you need to start keeping a closer eye on your diet to better manage your cholesterol? You may know that it is important to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products to help reduce your chances of developing heart disease. What you may not know is that there are certain foods that could help reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (also known as “bad” cholesterol) when eaten as part of an overall heart-healthy diet.
The next time you head to the grocery store, consider adding these foods to your shopping cart:
Oats and oat bran –
The soluble fiber found in oats and oat bran has been shown to help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol when eaten as part of a heart-healthy diet. Find out how eating 3 grams of oat soluble fiber daily from Quaker Oatmeal may help you lower your cholesterol.
Nuts, including almonds and walnuts –
Certain types of nuts, including almonds and walnuts, have most of their fat as mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Some studies show that eating a small amount of nuts (1.5 ounces) every day as part of a low saturated fat and cholesterol diet may help reduce LDL cholesterol. Nuts are fairly high in calories, however, and should be eaten in moderation, and replace other sources of calories in the diet.
Fatty fish, including tuna, salmon, mackerel, lake trout and halibut, are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and some studies show that consumption of these types of fat may help support heart health. The American Heart Association recommends that people consume at least 2 servings of fish per week.
Foods fortified with plant sterols or stanols –
These substances, found in plants, help block the absorption of cholesterol. Margarines and orange juice are two of the foods that are most commonly fortified with sterols and are available at most supermarkets. Proper use of these types of foods requires that two servings per day be consumed.
Beans and lentils –
Rich in fiber and protein, beans and lentils may also help reduce LDL cholesterol levels. According to a report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2005, cholesterol levels fell nearly twice as far in participants who added beans and lentils, along with more whole grains and vegetables, to a low-fat diet.
Foods low in saturated fat –
One of the most important things that determine your cholesterol levels is the amount of saturated fat you eat. Food sources that tend to add the most saturated fat to your diet are animal products, particularly fatty meats and full-fat dairy products. These foods should be limited if you are trying to lower your cholesterol levels.
Body weight and physical activity –
In addition to diet, your cholesterol levels can be affected by excess body weight and a sedentary lifestyle. Conversely, reducing you body weight towards a more healthy level and becoming more physically active can help reduce cholesterol levels.