‘Tis the season of eating and being merry. So here I am with another blog about food, to help you try and make the right choices this holiday season. 🙂 Just kidding, but for some people, high cholesterol is a serious problem and even if it’s not something you’re worried about, it’s always helpful to be aware of the right choices to make in helping lower or maintain low cholesterol.
First thing’s first. Here’s a quick TL;DR about cholesterol. There are 2 main types of cholesterol that your body makes: HDL (high-density lipoprotein), which is the “good” type of cholesterol that helps carry cholesterol out of your system. LDL (low-density lipoprotein), which is the “bad” type of cholesterol that deposits cholesterol into your arteries and is a risk factor for heart diseases.
Generally, it’s a good idea to have your cholesterol measured once every five years (for adults). But if you tend to have high cholesterol, obviously, it’s good to get that checked more frequently. Diet has a lot to do with your cholesterol, so what you eat does make a difference.
And with that said . . . here are some foods that are good for lowering your cholesterol:
- Fruits and vegetables: many are packed with soluble fiber. Some fruits like apples, grapes, citrus fruits, and berries, are high in pectin, which is a type of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Some vegetables that are high in pectin are okra, eggplants, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
- Legumes: Beans are very rich in soluble fiber and they also contain minerals and protein that are good for your body. They’re a great weight-loss food because they take longer to digest and thus keep you full for longer. Research shows that just half a cup of legumes a day can help reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
- Nuts: are good because they contain saturated fats, fiber, and a lot of other beneficial nutrients in addition to lowering cholesterol. They are very nutrient-dense but also calorie-dense, so serving size needs to be limited. About 1-3 ounces a day is enough to make a difference in your cholesterol. Try to get unsalted ones, by the way.
- Oats and barley: A great source of beta glucan, which is another type of soluble fiber. Oats and barley are more effective when it comes to lowering cholesterol than whole wheat and other whole grains.
- Soy: Yeah, look, not everyone is a fan of tofu, but it really does have its health benefits. Soy contains protein, fiber, unsaturated fats, etc., that help to lower your cholesterol.
The takeaway: limit your saturated fats and trans fats, eat foods high in fiber.
Try to incorporate these foods into your daily diet. It’s always a good idea to diversify what you eat because there are always other factors that will affect your health. Obviously, eating these foods won’t be a magic fix, either–you need to take care of your mental health and exercise regularly, too!