Diet plays an important role in maintaining healthy cholesterol numbers. Although the level of cholesterol in a person’s blood is partly due to factors related to heredity, the foods one eats also affect cholesterol levels.
When doctors discuss cholesterol with their patients, they may refer to total cholesterol, bad cholesterol and good cholesterol. What does that mean? Total cholesterol is the combined number of cholesterol in the blood, and should be below 200. Good cholesterol is known as HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and ideally it should be above 60. Bad, or LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, should be below 100, says the Cleveland Clinic. A person who has a poor lipoprotein profile may be instructed to alter their diet. Learning which foods might help is an important tool in managing cholesterol and triglyceride numbers.
Oats and more
Individuals likely have heard that oatmeal is good for helping reduce cholesterol numbers. Oatmeal has soluble fiber, which lowers LDL cholesterol by reducing the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Oat bran and other high-fiber grains also are good to enjoy.
Legumes and produce
Eggplant, okra, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, pears, apples, and more also can be effective at lowering cholesterol levels. These foods tend to be lower in calories and saturated fats but high in soluble fiber.
Almond, walnuts and other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids can lower cholesterol levels by raising the levels of HDL cholesterol. Nuts like almonds also are high in vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that can keep the body healthy in a number of ways. Since nuts are high in calories, it is important to eat them in moderation.
Eating fish over other meat-based protein sources helps reduce caloric intake. It also means the body gains the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids that lower LDL and triglycerides in the bloodstream.
Sterols and stanols
Sterols and stanols are components of plants that gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food, says Harvard Health. Companies add them to foods like margarine and granola bars as supplements. Roughly two grams of plant sterols a day can reduce LDL by 10 percent.
Avocados and olives
Both of these foods are good sources of fiber and also monounsaturated fats that can help improve HDL and lower LDL levels. Substitute olive and avocado oils for lard and butter when cooking to improve cholesterol levels.