Most people know that there are two types of cholesterol: the “good” and the “wrong” types. The right kind is High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL), and it protects against heart disease by transporting excess cholesterol out of the body.
The wrong type, Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), circulates in the blood, blocks our veins and arteries, and causes a build-up of plaque -- a sticky, gooey substance that sticks to our vessels and eventually hardens and becomes rigid and inflexible.
This constricts our blood flow and can lead to a host of health problems: heart attack, stroke and accelerated aging.
This is due to a lack of oxygen going to the heart and the brain, two organs that absolutely must be saturated with oxygen. The takeaway? The less LDL, the better.
But if your LDL cholesterol levels are high, before you start gobbling down dangerous statin drugs, with all of their risky side effects, keep reading.
The Good news: Foods can Work Wonders in Lowering Your LDL Levels.
There's no question that, for many people, statin drugs work wonders in lowering cholesterol. But they come with a plethora of possible side effects: muscle weakness, liver problems, memory loss, and increased risk of diabetes are just some of the potential problems that these drugs may cause.
And the scary part is that it is impossible to know exactly who will benefit from them, and who will feel the full results of these side effects.
Therefore, you owe it to yourself to make a few adjustments to your eating patterns before beginning a drug regimen.
Don't despair! The good news is that many of the foods that will help you lower your LDL cholesterol levels not only taste great but are also convenient and easy to add to your menu. Let's take a look at them:
- Dark Chocolate: Who can say no to chocolate? Dark chocolate is loaded with flavonoids, which act as scavengers on excess LDL. We are talking about the dark, unsweetened cocoa powder, so make sure that you are not eating candy bars and expecting good results.
- Avocados: This tasty treat delivers oleic acid, which lowers the bad cholesterol. Put a few slices on your sandwich, or add them to a salad.
- Red Wine: This relaxing, fun stuff is stacked with resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant that is found in the skin of red grapes. Resveratrol protects our veins and arteries by lowering the risk of blood clots and reducing LDL. Just don't overdo it, as excess alcohol consumption can lead to a host of other health problems.
- Tea: Green and black teas are loaded with antioxidants, and this gives them the ability to decimate LDL levels. But don't overdo the cream and sugar.
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are convenient and delicious snacks and come with a load of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can help reduce LDL levels. Eat them alone, or sprinkle them on a salad and remember to choose the low-salt option.
- Nutritious Whole Grains: Grains get a bad rap, but we are not talking about refined, over-processed white bread. Oatmeal, barley, and brown rice are packed with fiber, which has been proven to lower LDL levels by reducing the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. And these goodies taste a lot better than bland white bread!
- Fish: In addition to being “brain food,” fish like salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, and halibut are flush with omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream. Be smart: load up on fish.
- Olive Oil: It is widely known that olive oil is considered “heart-friendly,” and the reason is, is that it is very effective in lowering LDL levels, even better than animal fats. Forget about those sugar- and fat-loaded salad dressings! Olive oil is great in salads, especially when mixed with red vinegar. Make the change and do it today.
- Beans: All kinds of them: Lentils, black beans, kidney beans...all of these are chock-full of fiber, which attaches to the cholesterol in the blood and escorts it to the exit. Recent studies show eating 4.5 ounces of beans a day can reduce LDL levels by five percent.
- Fresh Fruit: Here again, there is a wide variety of great-tasting, nutritional powerhouses to choose from: Apples and pears contain pectin, which is a fiber that sweeps away LDL. Same with citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, etc.) and berries. It's great to eat these fruits fresh, raw, or added to a smoothie.
- Vegetables: These nutritional jewels are the gift that just keeps on giving. The good news is that just about any kind of plant will pack a wallop of fiber...again, ideal for lowering your LDL levels. Try to eat them fresh or steamed.
- Individual Fortified Foods: Granola, orange juice, and yogurt are loaded with plant sterols, which are natural chemicals that come from plant foods. Plant sterols have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels by 6% to 15%. Just be sure to read the labels and be on the lookout for too much-added sugar and too many calories.
This is not by any means a comprehensive list of cholesterol-lowering foods.
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