The CDC estimates that almost 30 million adults in the United States have high cholesterol levels. It is also becoming increasingly common in children and adolescents. High cholesterol can put you at serious risk of a number of conditions including atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries), stroke, heart attack, and PAD (peripheral arterial disease).
In many cases, high cholesterol is caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, and use of tobacco and alcohol. While medication can be used to lower cholesterol levels, there is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle, which can improve your life and lower your risk factors in numerous ways.
While most people know that they should stop eating fried foods and fast food when trying to lower their cholesterol, there are a number of foods that can help to actively lower it too.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a substance made of fat that is found in your bloodstream. In healthy people, it is found in low amounts and does not cause any issues. People with high cholesterol have too much in their bloodstream, and this can cause blood vessels to become blocked – leading to a stroke or heart attack.
As there are no direct symptoms of high cholesterol, you will need to have a blood test to determine your cholesterol levels.
Foods That Help Lower Cholesterol
Improving your diet is an effective way to lower cholesterol and boost your overall health. There are some foods that work within the body to actually help lower it.
That’s right, a humble bowl of oatmeal can do wonders for your cholesterol levels. Top it with some sliced fruit and heart-healthy nuts to give you the perfect start to your day.
Full of soluble fiber, whole grains can lower your cholesterol and risk of heart disease. Look for whole wheat, brown rice, and quinoa to give your heart health a boost.
Another great source of soluble fiber, beans are low in fat and keep you fuller for longer. There are many different types of beans, including black beans, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans. Find creative ways to add them into recipes (salads and soups are a great place to start).
Fruits such as citrus, apples, strawberries, and grapes are full of pectin, which is a soluble fiber that can reduce LDL cholesterol. Try to incorporate more fruit into your diet. Have it on whole-grain cereals, with yogurt, or even just as a snack by itself.
If you eat meat regularly, swapping it out for fish a few times a week can have a positive impact on your health. Fatty fish is full of healthy fats, which are known for lowering the number of triglycerides found in the bloodstream and reducing cholesterol. Aim to eat two or three servings per week of fish like salmon and tuna.
Cholesterol levels can be an indicator of your lifestyle. By making changes to your diet and exercise routine, you can keep yours at a healthy level and reduce your risk of certain diseases.