If you are here, probably your doctor tested you with high blood cholesterol. If this is so, then he must have also asked you what to eat and what not to. And the list might have mentioned meat and dairy products especially to steer clear of.
Now while you already know what not to eat, this article will give you a proper insight into what kinds of foods can help lower your cholesterol and how they do that. Even if your cholesterol is under control, consuming foods high in unsaturated fats will keep a check on it.
Fats and their role in cholesterol
You might have heard of fats and their importance in your diet. Although many people are afraid of the word fat due to incomplete knowledge, the internet is breaking that stereotype against fats.
The two kinds – saturated and unsaturated fats – also known as bad fat and good fat respectively, are present in the daily foods we consume.
The bad fats are what are responsible for the increased blood cholesterol also known as LDL. Good fats (unsaturated), however, help you lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and help increase the good cholesterol (HDL) as well.
Let us talk about these. These are monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fats – the two types of unsaturated fats. These are healthy fats since they help you to reduce your blood cholesterol. Their elaborated individual roles are:
The healthiest in the category, this works by lowering your bad cholesterol (LDL) while maintaining the good cholesterol (HDL) side by side. You can find these fats in almonds, cashews, and avocados, oils such as olive oil and canola oil, peanut oil, and sesame oil.
This type of fat has a somewhat different working mechanism for your cholesterol. It lowers your overall blood cholesterol, i.e. lowering both bad and good cholesterol. Since the lowering of both cholesterols is not as recommended, you should consume them in moderation only.
You can consume PUFA through mayonnaise, corn oil, sunflower oil and through a group of omega-3 fatty acids found in them come through fish fat such as mackerel, tuna or salmon. Seafood like oysters, trout, shrimp, shellfish and plant sources such as butternuts, flaxseed oils, hempseed oil, walnut and soybean oil are also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
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Five heart-healthy or cholesterol-lowering foods
Walnuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts – a source of healthy fats and fiber – these are perfect for a low-fat diet for your heart. These are a rich source of vitamin E, magnesium, phytochemicals, that keep the heart healthy. If you want omega-3 fatty acids rich nuts, then walnuts are your friend.
A handful of nuts a day will make for your healthy diet but be careful about salted or sugarcoated nuts since they are not as healthy.
Packed with MUFA and beta-sitosterol, cholesterol smashing plant-based fat, avocado helps to reduce the absorbed amount of cholesterol from food. The MUFAs present in it help to raise HDL while lowering the LDL.
Get as creative as you want with avocados and add them to your desserts, smoothies, egg recipes or even use as a spread on bread – the options are endless.
As high, as these olives are in flavor, they are also a good source of MUFAs. Green, black, kalamata olives known for their ability to be versatile with food preparation, make sure you use them in as many recipes as possible.
For preparing a lipid-lowering diet, fish is the best candidate. Rich with omega-3 fats, you can have fish like mackerel, tuna, salmon, herring, anchovy, sardines, and halibut.
Include fish in your diet as at least two servings per week. Just know that you cannot fry fish since this leads to an increase in its caloric amount and trans fats, which are the unhealthiest fats for your cholesterol.
Replace using butter and margarine with unsaturated fats rich oils like olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, and soybean oils. Make better use of these oils for cooking for a heart-healthy approach.
You can go snacking on seeds as well along with healthy nuts. The seeds are rich in fiber, protein, and unsaturated fats where sesame seeds are high in MUFAs and chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are higher in PUFAs. Just make sure that these do not undergo preparation with salt.
Along with avoiding saturated fats and trans fat in your diet, just remember to up your intake of healthy unsaturated fats that replace the intake of saturated fats in your diet, and you are off to a good start.