Cholesterol might seem like a big word, but it’s pretty simple. It’s a waxy substance found in your blood. Your body needs it to build cells.
But too much cholesterol can cause trouble. It can stick to your arteries’ walls and cause heart disease.
Types of Cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein). LDL is often called “bad cholesterol” because it can stick to your arteries and cause problems.
HDL is known as “good cholesterol” because it carries the LDL away and helps to keep your heart healthy.
Foods Can Influence Your Cholesterol Levels
The food you eat can influence the amount of LDL and HDL cholesterol in your body. Many studies show that choosing the right foods can lower your “bad” cholesterol and increase your “good” cholesterol.
Foods to Help Lower Your Cholesterol
Here are some foods that can help you control your cholesterol levels:
Oats and Barley
These grains are packed with a type of fiber called beta-glucan. Several studies found that beta-glucan can lower LDL cholesterol.
One study showed that eating just three grams of this fiber every day (about one cup of cooked oatmeal) could lower your LDL cholesterol by 5-10%.
Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and veggies are a must-have for a healthy diet. They’re low in cholesterol and high in fiber, which can help lower your LDL cholesterol.
Apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits are especially good because they’re high in a type of fiber called pectin.
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are good fats that can lower your LDL cholesterol.
One study found that eating fatty fish two times a week can lower your LDL by up to 4%.
Nuts are another excellent source of healthy fats. Almonds, walnuts, and other nuts can help lower your LDL cholesterol.
A review of 25 studies found that eating a handful of nuts every day could lower your LDL by an average of 7%.
Soy foods like tofu, soy milk, and edamame are rich in protein and can help lower your LDL cholesterol. Research shows that consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day can reduce your LDL by 3% to 4%.
What Else Can You Do?
Remember, food isn’t the only thing that affects your cholesterol levels. Exercise and quitting smoking can also help you manage your cholesterol.
And sometimes, you might need medication. It’s important to talk with your doctor about the best way to lower your cholesterol.
You can influence your cholesterol levels by making smart choices about what you eat.
Foods like oats, fruits, fatty fish, nuts, and soy can help you lower your “bad” cholesterol and protect your heart. It’s never too late to start eating healthier and taking care of your body.
If you care about nutrition, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.
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