While there are medications like statins to lower your cholesterol levels, like any other medicines they also have side effects. So you are better off trying to reduce the cholesterol in your body through natural means. One such means is eating the right foods. You have several options when it comes to choosing foods to fight or lower cholesterol levels.
Listed below are 10 of the best foods for such a purpose. Note that these foods should be consumed along with other regular foods to ensure you are taking a balanced diet, such as meeting your calorie requirements with the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Foods That Control Cholesterol
Fruits and Vegetables
Almost all vegetables and fruits help in lowering cholesterol. Those that are rich in beta-carotene or vitamin C are particularly more helpful. Foods high in beta-carotene include green vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and spinach, and yellow fruits like mango, yellow peaches and apricots.
Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruit, all the berry fruits, guava, mango, the whole cabbage family like cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli, and chilli peppers.
High-fiber Foods, Oatmeal and Oat Bran
Soluble fiber reduces absorption of cholesterol. About 5-10 g/day of soluble fiber reduces both total and LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol. Foods containing soluble fiber include apples, kidney beans, barley, pears and prunes. About 6 g of fiber is contained in one-and-a-half cups of oatmeal that is cooked. If you add to it fruits like banana, you will increase its fiber content by 4 g.
Eating about a handful of nuts (1.5 oz or 42.5 g) everyday can reduce your blood cholesterol. Make sure they are not salted or sugar coated. Do not eat more than a handful because they contain lot of calories.
The nuts you can eat for this purpose are almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, peanuts and pistachios.
Olive oil has high content of monounsaturated fats and also vitamin E, which have been shown to reduce the LDL cholesterol and increase HDL (or “good”) cholesterol. Take 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil per day over your salads or use it for cooking.
Some fish help fight cholesterol due to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids.
Eating fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, halibut and trout 3-4 times/week is very beneficial.
Foods Enriched with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Some manufacturers fortify foods like bread, milk and eggs with omega-3 fats. So check the food label. However, note that you should not eat the egg yellow more than 2 or 3 times/week since it is high in cholesterol.
Foods Enriched with Plant Stanols or Sterols
Sterols or stanols, which are found in plants, decrease the absorption of cholesterol. Usually orange juice, yogurt drinks and margarines are fortified with plant stanols or sterols. Check the food labels. You need to take about 2 or more grams of sterols per day for optimal results.
Curcumin, which is the active component in turmeric, has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol. You can use it in the cooking of practically all dishes.
Cereals and Grains
Cereals and grains that are unprocessed are high in insoluble and soluble fiber and low in cholesterol. Their regular intake can meet your nutritional requirements without increasing your cholesterol levels.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic help in reducing cholesterol and burn fat because they contain allicin, a sulphur compound. So use them liberally in cooking your meals.