What is High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid) or waxy substance that your body uses to perform many important functions. However, having too much cholesterol in your blood is harmful for you and can increase your risk of heart disease.
Diets high in saturated fat, mainly animal fats, can increase a “bad” type of cholesterol in your bloodstream known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL). In extreme amounts, LDL starts to build up plaque in your artery walls. This can slow down your blood flow and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
High cholesterol is a “silent” killer. It travels through your blood silently over the years. You may not even know it’s there or exhibit any symptoms until you have a stroke or a heart attack. By this point, it has already caused severe damage to your body.
For this reason, it is crucial to have your cholesterol numbers checked on a routine basis. This is done by a simple blood test. Keeping your numbers in a “heart-healthy” range can help you to lower your risk for heart disease.
What Foods Can I Eat to Lower My Cholesterol?
Although high cholesterol can be inherited, it is oftentimes the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and a healthy diet can help you to lower the cholesterol in your body. Depending on your medical history, sometimes medication is also needed.
Foods that lower your cholesterol:
Oatmeal is high in fiber and contains more soluble fiber than other grains. According to Mayo Clinic, intaking five to ten grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol. (“How to Lower Your Cholesterol Fast | Everyday Health”) Eating oatmeal is not only an easy way to lower your cholesterol, but you can also sprinkle some fruit or cinnamon on it for some extra flavor.
In May 2010, an analysis of 25 trials published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that you can lower your cholesterol by just eating an average of 67 g, only 2.4 ounces, of nuts a day. This can reduce your total cholesterol by 5 percent and your LDL cholesterol by 7 percent. Almost any type of nut will help you to lower your cholesterol, but walnuts are a top choice.
Salmon and Fatty Fish
The next time you are dining out, chose salmon over steak. According to the American Heart Association, adding fish to your diet is beneficial to your health. By replacing meat with salmon and other types of fatty fish, such as Mackerel, Herring, Tuna, and Trout, you are not only lowering your LDL-raising saturated fats but are also getting the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. This can lower your triglyceride levels, a type of fat that circulates in the blood, and can reduce your risk of developing blood clots and high blood pressure. If you have already had a heart attack, omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of sudden death.
Bananas are rich in fiber, especially soluble fiber, and are one of the healthiest and most inexpensive fresh fruits available. They not only contribute to a healthy body (reducing inflammation and blood pressure) and stronger immune system, but they can also significantly lower the bad cholesterol in your body.
Almonds are heart healthy, and one cup of almond milk contains only 30 to 40 calories. It has no cholesterol or saturated fat. Fortified almond milk has the same amount of vitamin D as cow’s milk (skim), and certain brands can even provide up to 50 percent more calcium.
All berries are good for you and contain antioxidants, but blueberries also contain 5 g of fiber in every cup. They are a good way to help you to lower cholesterol fast. You can cook blueberries, eat them dried, or enjoy them raw. If you buy them frozen, make sure you eat them as soon as you thaw them out, so they are still firm. Blueberries can make a delicious parfait dessert when you layer them with a fat-free or low-fat yogurt.
Researchers in Canada found that eating a daily serving of cooked beans lowers your “bad” cholesterol by 5 percent over a six weeks’ time. The study also concluded that there was no difference in the cholesterol lowering effects of the different types of legumes: Beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas.
Whole Wheat Grains and Pasta
Whole grains are the healthiest grains to eat and are linked to lowering cholesterol. They also lower your risk for heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and other health-related issues. One of the reasons for their benefit in lowering cholesterol is that they are high in fiber. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans (PDF) for 2020 – 2025, recommends eating half of your grains from whole-grain foods and the rest from enriched grains. According to Mayo Clinic, by replacing your refined foods: white rice, white bread, and white flour, with whole grains: brown rice, whole wheat bread, and whole wheat pastas, you retain important iron, many B vitamins, and dietary fiber which can lower the absorption of cholesterol in your blood stream.
Believe it or not, when consumed in moderation, red wine can raise your High-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol). A study published in BMC Medicine in 2021 found that drinking alcohol in moderation could be “cardio-protective among healthy individuals”. Healthy drinking is defined as having no more than one drink a day for women and two for men, or even less if you are over the age of 65. One drink is considered as 5 oz of wine.
With a little persistence, dedication, and a few life changes, you can lower your LDL cholesterol and live a longer and healthier life!
Isabella Boston is a multi-talented writer and the Founder of Bella’s Attic Studio. She has several years of experience in content writing, copywriting, and social media strategies. She is a diarist and the author of Passion of Flames. She has special interests in fashion and beauty, health and wellness, and natural healing as it pertains the body, mind, and soul. When Isabella is not writing, she enjoys playing the violin, learning new languages, and reading books of substance.
 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, January 11). High cholesterol. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/symptoms-causes/syc-20350800  E;, S. J. O. K. R. (n.d.). Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: A pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Archives of internal medicine. Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20458092/  Shah, M. (2023, March 1). Do bananas affect cholesterol levels? HealthifyMe. Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://www.healthifyme.com/blog/do-bananas-affect-cholesterol-levels/  McPherson, A., & By. (n.d.). 5 whole grain foods that lower cholesterol and the best ways to eat them. EverydayHealth.com. Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/heart-health/high-cholesterol/8-whole-grain-foods-lower-cholesterol/  Ding, C., O’Neill, D., Bell, S., Stamatakis, E., & Britton, A. (2021, July 27). Association of alcohol consumption with morbidity and mortality in patients with cardiovascular disease: Original Data and meta-analysis of 48,423 men and women - BMC medicine. BioMed Central. Retrieved March 8, 2023, from https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-021-02040-2