If you’ve seen your primary doctor recently, chances are she checked your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance our bodies need to function, but too much can lead to serious heart disease and chronic illness.
The American Dietetic Association recommends that healthy individuals consume no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol on a daily basis. Fortunately, the foods that lower cholesterol are fresh, light and full of flavor.
What Is Good Cholesterol?
Good cholesterol is known as high-density lipoprotein or HDL. Having a higher level in your bloodstream is healthy because HDL helps carry bad cholesterol and triglycerides (fat) to the liver to be eliminated. This helps prevent fat from building up in our arteries and leading to blockages and heart disease.
What Is Bad Cholesterol?
Bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is responsible for those fatty buildups in our arteries. When this happens, our blood vessels narrow and become hardened, putting us at increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Foods That Lower Cholesterol
The best foods for lowering cholesterol are plant-based and high in fiber. Dietary fiber can bind to LDL cholesterol and help your body eliminate it. Yes, please! Look for fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains to lower your cholesterol naturally.
- Oatmeal: A bowl of oatmeal contains both soluble and insoluble fiber to bind with fat and flush it out of your system.
- Apples: Apples (especially their skin) are rich in soluble fiber to satisfy your hunger and lower cholesterol.
- Berries: Berries are rich in antioxidants and fiber, both of which are linked with lowering LDL cholesterol levels.
- Salmon or Trout: Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids to increase HDL and lower LDL.
- Olive Oil: Cook with heart-healthy olive oil instead of butter or lard to lower cholesterol and increase healthy fats.
High Cholesterol Foods to Avoid
The cholesterol in our diets comes from meat and animal products. To lower your cholesterol level, cut down on the amount of high-cholesterol foods like red meat, pork, poultry, dairy and eggs you consume.
- Beef: Prime beef is fattier than other types, so opt for a leaner cut of meat.
- Animal Fat: Animal fat is incredibly high in cholesterol, so be sure to collect the fat and drippings when cooking bacon or burgers and discard it.
- Duck: Duck and goose are fattier and higher in cholesterol than lean turkey or chicken.
- Deli Meats: Try to avoid processed meat like bologna, salami and hot dogs.