Many people wonder if there are foods that can help lower high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This is the “bad” cholesterol that can cause plaque to form in the walls of coronary arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. The answer is a qualified “yes” because high LDL can be the result of many factors. Including bad genes, obesity and lack of exercise. This is why not everyone reacts in the same way to a change in diet, and optimal LDL levels are different for each individual.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body uses to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest food. At normal levels, it’s essential for health, but if levels in the blood get too high, LDL, the so-called “bad” cholesterol, can build up in your arteries and form plaques that put you at risk of cardiovascular diseases. Including chest pain (angina pectoris), heart attack and stroke.
If these plaques rupture or tear, a blood clot can form there and block blood flow. Sometimes the clot breaks off and travels from the affected artery to smaller blood vessels. A heart attack can occur if the clot blocks blood flow to part of the heart. Similarly, a stroke can occur when a clot then blocks blood in part of the brain. People with high LDL levels are also at risk of developing peripheral arterial disease (PAD), an often undiagnosed condition in which plaque gradually forms inside the walls of the arteries that carry blood to the head, stomach, arms and legs. People with PAD are at increased risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke, even gangrene and amputation.
Often, excess LDL is the result of a diet high in saturated fats (usually from animal foods such as beef, butter, and whole-milk dairy products) and trans fats (found in processed foods and fast foods). Eliminating these foods from your diet is a good first step to improving your LDL levels. Then try adding some or all of the following LDL-lowering foods daily.
- 1 Foods that improve your cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- 1.1 1 Beans and legumes
- 1.2 2 Apples: High in Fiber and Beneficial Antioxidants
- 1.3 3 Nuts and seeds: Full of protein and good fats
- 1.4 4 Oats and oat bran: A little every day
- 1.5 5 Green tea: Antioxidants help lower LDL cholesterol.
- 1.6 6 Red grapefruit: Up to 20% difference
- 1.7 7 Red Wine or Grape: Resveratrol Toast
- 1.8 8 Plant Phytosterols and Stanols: Watch Your Portions
Foods that improve your cholesterol and triglyceride levels
1 Beans and legumes
All types of beans and other legumes: red, white, black, garbanzo, and lentil, for example, are excellent sources of soluble fiber. Fiber binds to cholesterol-laden bile salts in the small intestine and promotes their excretion with waste. When this happens, the liver has to use more cholesterol to produce more bile salts, which reduces the amount of cholesterol available to make LDL. Little is known about the cholesterol lowering benefits of beans. Eating half a cup of cooked beans a day can significantly lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in June 2007.
2 Apples: High in Fiber and Beneficial Antioxidants
As with beans, apples are an excellent source of LDL-reducing soluble fiber, primarily pectin. Research published in December 2014 in the European Journal of Nutrition also shows that eating an apple a day (or better, two) can slow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This health benefit is due to the antioxidant polyphenols found primarily in the skin of apples (so don’t peel them). Antioxidants are important because inflammation and plaque buildup in the arteries are more likely to occur when LDL cholesterol interacts with free radicals and oxidizes.
3 Nuts and seeds: Full of protein and good fats
Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are all great sources of protein, heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber . When replacing saturated fat in the diet, nuts and seeds help lower LDL cholesterol (and total cholesterol) without affecting levels of the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. It is good to know that by eating nuts, you reduce your risk of heart disease. As nuts and seeds are calorie dense, you will need to limit your daily intake to around half a cup and also make sure the nuts are not salted or sugar coated.
4 Oats and oat bran: A little every day
Oats and oat bran contain beta-glucan, a water-soluble fiber that helps lower the amount of LDL cholesterol circulating in the blood. A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in December 2014 found that a daily intake of at least 3 grams (g) of oat beta-glucan lowers total cholesterol and lowers LDL cholesterol levels. . This is the amount contained in half a cup of oat bran.
5 Green tea: Antioxidants help lower LDL cholesterol.
All varieties of tea rich in antioxidants (white, black, green, oolong) can help lower LDL. Green tea, which is particularly rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant, gave the best results. EGCG reduced LDL cholesterol levels by about 9 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) in 17 trials reviewed in the International Journal of Food Science Nutrition. Unlike other teas, which are made from fermented leaves, green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents EGCG from oxidizing. Although some studies have been done with drinking seven or more cups a day, drinking a few cups of green tea a day should help and keep you from consuming too much caffeine. Brewing your green tea with loose leaf tea, rather than tea bags, provides more EGCG.
6 Red grapefruit: Up to 20% difference
Eating just one red grapefruit a day for a month may help lower LDL cholesterol levels by 20 percent, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry in March 2006. This cardioprotective effect is most likely due to compounds called liminoids. and lycopene present in the pulp. Grapefruit also contains pectin, a soluble fiber, which helps lower LDL levels. But be aware that grapefruit may enhance the effect of certain heart medications, such as statins and calcium channel blockers. If you are taking any of these medications, consult your doctor before eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice.
7 Red Wine or Grape: Resveratrol Toast
Resveratrol, a plant-derived chemical found in red grapes used to make red wine, may help lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. It also appears to protect against coronary heart disease, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Also, a glass of red wine with a meal can help prevent the constriction of blood vessels that can follow a fatty meal and lead to atherosclerosis and heart attack. If you’re not drinking, don’t start now. You can find resveratrol in red, black, and purple grapes, as well as blueberries, cranberries. If you drink alcohol, limit your red wine intake to one or two 5 oz glasses a day.
8 Plant Phytosterols and Stanols: Watch Your Portions
chocolate which contains sterols which can help lower cholesterol. Plant sterols and stanols, called “phytosterols”, are substances naturally present in small amounts in vegetable oils (corn, soy), nuts, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and even dark chocolate. Daily consumption of plant sterols and stanols can reduce LDL cholesterol levels by about 14 mg/dl, according to an analysis of 20 trials published in Atherosclerosis in May 2016. Phytosterols block cholesterol absorption in the small intestine , which helps reduce LDL.