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High cholesterol? These foods will lower it

Last updated on: March 26, 2010 20:59 IST

Consuming certain foods has been proven to help lower cholesterol levels, thus helping you to avoid cholesterol medications or take a lower dose of medicines.

We all are familiar with the idea that egg yolk, butter, and fried foods are bad for your cholesterol levels. But are you aware that in addition to cutting down on these bad foods, you can also add some foods to your diet to lower your cholesterol? Consuming certain foods has been proven to help lower cholesterol levels, thus helping you to avoid cholesterol medications or take a lower dose of medicines. Of course, these foods work only when taken as a part of an overall low cholesterol diet and alongside optimum physical exercise. We will tell you more about some of the best cholesterol lowering foods and how you can incorporate them in your diet plan.

Olive oil

Olive oil is good for you, not only because it does not raise your 'bad cholesterol' (LDL), but also because it actually lowers it without bringing down your 'good cholesterol' (HDL). Isn't that absolutely amazing! So if you're concerned about your cholesterol levels, get a bottle of extra-virgin olive oil on your next trip to the grocery store.

As per the scientific data available and the recommendations of the Food and Drug Administration, you should be consuming about 23 grams (2 tablespoons) of it every day. That is not at all difficult to manage. Mixed with some vinegar, olive oil makes a great salad dressing. You can also use it in place of other oils or butter while sautéing or marinating. Stick to extra-virgin olive oil, because it has more antioxidants than the further processed 'light' olive oils (light in this case doesn't mean less fat!).

Soluble fibres

You may think of soluble fibres like a sponge that soaks up the cholesterol in your diet and prevents it from getting absorbed. Oatmeal, apples, pears, barley and prunes are some of the foods rich in soluble fibres. Now this does not mean that you are free to eat cholesterol-rich food with a bowl of oatmeal. You need to take these good foods for that added benefit as a part of a low-cholesterol diet. About 10 grams or more of soluble fibre a day is required to decreases your total and LDL cholesterol. Having one and a half cups of cooked oatmeal for breakfast will give you about 6 grams of soluble fibre. Add a banana to it to get the remaining 4 grams.

Walnuts

Walnuts are a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids that keep your arteries healthy and supple. In scientific studies, regular walnut consumption was seen to significantly reduce blood cholesterol. A handful (about 10 to 11 halves) everyday is good enough to give you all the heart-health benefits. They make a tasty and crunchy snack and would surely be a pleasant addition to your diet. If you don't want to go for walnuts, try almonds, hazelnuts, or peanuts. They too can have a good effect on your cholesterol level. The most important factor is limiting the amount that you consume. Since nuts are calorie dense, too much will be counterproductive as your total calorie consumption will shoot up.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for your health in more ways than one. And their benefits include lowering blood cholesterol. Non-vegetarians can get their omega-3 fatty acids from two servings of fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring or sardines every week. Vegetarians can use flaxseed or canola oil for cooking to get omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 or fish oil supplements are also available in the market. You can discuss whether they're right for you with your doctor.

Plant sterols

Sterols are substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol. Margarines, orange juice and yoghurt are some of the sterol fortified foods that are available in the market. About 8 ounces (237 millilitres) of fortified orange juice can lower LDL cholesterol by 10 percent or more. The American Heart Association recommends foods fortified with plant sterols for people with levels of LDL cholesterol over 160 milligrams per decilitre. Sterol fortified foods do not have any adverse effect on 'good' high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol or the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) in your diet.

Courtesy: Healthcaremagic.com