Cholesterol is a wax like substance that is present in the cell walls throughout your body. When serum cholesterol levels are in a healthy range, cholesterol is actually health-supporting. However, if your cholesterol levels get too high, your risk for atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke and even cardiac death vastly increase. Luckily, nature has provided us with 7 superfoods that will help to reduce cholesterol levels naturally.
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which binds to cholesterol and prevents it from being absorbed into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber also helps to reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. This is important because LDL is considered the bad, unhealthy cholesterol the type that clogs your arteries and increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. For optimum results, consume 1 ½ bowls of oatmeal per day.
Multiple studies have confirmed that soy helps to lower the unhealthy triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels, whilst also raising the healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. Mary S Johnson states in the Journal of Nutrition that the flavones found in soy help to reduce risk for cardiovascular disorders such as heart attack and stroke by preventing the reduction in blood flow that contributes to these disorders. For optimum results, the FDA recommends consuming 25 g of soy protein per day. Soy milk, tofu and fermented soy products such a miso and tempeh are all great sources to include in your diet.
3: Cold-Water Fish
Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, halibut and tuna are all excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s helps to lower your risk for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular disorders because they decrease platelet aggregation, lower inflammation, increase HDL cholesterol levels, reduce triglycerides and lower blood pressure. In fact, according the University of Maryland Medical Center, consuming just 2 servings of these fish per week can not only lower cholesterol but also lower your stroke risk by as much as 50%.
4. Almonds and Nuts
Consuming almonds and nuts in moderation can help you to reduce your cholesterol levels and keep your blood vessels healthy. The FDA recommends eating 1.5 ounces per day which amounts to approximately one handful of almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios or walnuts. However, be sure that you choose plain, unsalted nuts, and raw when possible.
Onions contain two powerful nutrients that help to lower cholesterol levels: sulfur and chromium. According to a study conducted on rats and published in The Journal of Nutrition, when rats were fed a diet with sulfur containing amino acids their serum cholesterol levels decreased measurably. Research has also found that the chromium present in onions helps to prevent elevated triglyceride levels and support heart health, thereby reducing your risk for heart attack and stroke.
6: Olive oil
Olive oil contains potent antioxidants that can help to prevent free radical induced damage to your cardiovascular system. It has also been found to lower the unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels. For optimum results, consume 2 tablespoons per day and choose products that say “extra virgin” and “cold pressed” on the bottle. Also note that olive oil should be stored in an air tight container in a dark place. Finally, heating olive oil has been found to destroy many of its antioxidants and heart protective properties, so it is best to consume it right from the bottle, as a salad dressing or marinade, for instance.
Last but not least are apples. Studies suggest that eating apples daily will help to lower your cholesterol levels and thus reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke. Apples are so beneficial because they contain a soluble fiber called apple pectin, which helps to draw cholesterol out of your system and safely remove it. Apples also contain antioxidant dense nutrients called “flavonoids” which have been found to prevent LDL cholesterol from accumulating in your bloodstream. In fact, a recent study conducted at Florida State University found that that eating just one apple a day for a year reduces LDL levels by an average of 23%.