Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced by the liver and found in certain foods, is needed to make vitamin D and some hormones, build cell walls, and create bile salts that help you digest fat. It’s hard to avoid cholesterol entirely because so many foods contain it. Too much cholesterol in the body can lead to serious problems like heart disease. Ideally, you want to shoot for total cholesterol under 200, with LDL (the bad one) under 110 and HDL (the good one) greater than 35. Many factors can contribute to high cholesterol. Good news is that there are things you can do to control them, through your healthy diet.
A healthy diet is the first line of defense against rising cholesterol. Try to incorporate more of these foods into your daily diet.
Here are the 5 foods ideal to fight your Cholesterol:
Almonds:Eating just a quarter cup of almonds a day can lower your LDL by 4.4 percent. Eating nuts, especially almonds, which are high in good-for-you monounsaturated fat, is better than simply eating a low-fat snack like pretzels. They may be high in calories; so choose a small serving and choose almonds that are dry roasted, without oil.
Oatmeal:You’ve seen the commercials with people proclaiming dramatic drops in their cholesterol numbers. Those great results are due to the high levels of soluble fiber found in oatmeal. The soluble fiber binds to the bile acids that are the precursor to the development of cholesterol and help flush it out.
Fish:Omega-3 fatty acids are widely considered to be the best of the “good” fats, and the best place to find them is in fish—especially fatty fishes like salmon, halibut and tuna. According to Dorfman of the ADA, you want to get 1.5 to 3 grams per day of omega-3. A 4-ounce piece of salmon will give you close to 3 grams, and you can also get these fatty acids from walnuts and flaxseed (two tablespoons of flaxseed provides 3.5 grams) and in fish oil supplements.
Red wine:A glass of red wine, which contains flavanols, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that may help lower cholesterol and stave off heart disease. In this case, more is definitely not better. “For women, the recommendation is one drink a day and for men it’s two,” says Bonci. More than that will, literally, dilute any potential benefits. These flavanols can also be found in red grape juice and dark cocoa.
Soy:Soybeans, soy nuts and edamame, plus any products made from soy (like tofu, soymilk, etc.) can help to reduce the production of new cholesterol. A little can go a long way—aim for about 25 grams of soy protein a day (the amount in a cup of edamame).
Now that you know the good stuff to add to your diet, try to reduce—or better yet, eliminate these bad for you foods from your repertoire.