You have probably heard about cholesterol and its positive and negative effect on our health. This lipid molecule is part of all animal cell membranes and responsible for retaining the structural integrity and fluidity. There are two types of cholesterol in our blood – HDL and LDL cholesterol, with the later one known as “bad”.
More than a third of all American people suffer from hypercholesterolemia or high levels of LDL cholesterol, which significantly raises the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. Just about anyone can get high LDL cholesterol in their blood due to poor diet, smoking, unhealthy habits, physical inactivity or genetics. High cholesterol doesn’t manifest through specific symptoms, and the only way to check it is by doing regular blood tests. Here are the safe levels of cholesterol in your blood recommended by the CDC:
Total cholesterol – <200 mg/dL
HDL cholesterol – 40 mg/dL or higher
LDL cholesterol – <100 mg/dL
Triglycerides – <150 mg/dL
By not controlling your cholesterol levels, you are at an increased risk of heart attack, heart disease or stroke, but there are ways to reduce the levels and prevent further problems. Here are 10 superfoods which can regulate your cholesterol levels:
Almonds contain a host of healthy nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats as well as polyunsaturated fats which can lower your LDL cholesterol. According to a 2011 study, eating only 3 almonds a day can lower the cholesterol in your blood by 3-19%. Another study from 2015 found out that consuming almonds regularly has a cardio-protective effect on our health. Although healthy, however, you need to consume them in moderation just like any other food.
Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast choice – it contains a lot of fiber and other important nutrients that can boost your digestion and energy levels as well. The fiber can also lower your cholesterol and protect you from cardiovascular diseases. Scientists claim that consuming oatmeal for breakfast every day can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is why you should start eating it today.
Salmon is a healthy fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that can reduce the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. Experts recommend consuming 2 pieces of grilled or baked salmon every week in order to keep your heart health in check.
- Orange juice
Orange juice is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants that can improve your blood lipid profile and reduce the risk of heart disease. Drink 2-3 cups of fresh orange juice or eat a few oranges every day in order to regulate your LDL cholesterol.
- Green tea
Drinking several cups of green tea a day is one of the simplest ways of reducing your LDL cholesterol. A few years ago, one meta-analysis of 14 trials showed that green tea can reduce the total serum and bad cholesterol in adults thanks to its rich nutritional profile.
Besides regulating your cholesterol, green tea also prevents numerous cardiovascular problems and the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Drink 3-4 cups of tea every day, but make sure to consult your doctor first if you’re on some supplements.
- Soybeans and soy products
Soy contains plant-based protein which is great for reducing cholesterol. Besides that, soy and soy products also contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, saturated and polyunsaturated fats which are great for your heart health. One study discovered that consuming 15-30 gr. of soy protein every day can reduce the serum lipoprotein risk factors and regulate your cholesterol levels.
This tropical fruit is incredibly rich in monounsaturated fats that can reduce cholesterol in overweight and obese people and prevent numerous cardiovascular problems. Avocados contain a lot of vitamin B and K, fiber, protein and minerals which can boost your overall health, which is why you should start eating them every day.
- Olive oil
Olive oil is definitely among the healthiest liquids you can consume. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and other helpful nutrients which can regulate your cholesterol levels and protect your heart health. Replace the vegetable oils you use to prepare your food with olive oil and use it on salads as well to protect your heart and overall health.
- Dark chocolate
According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dark chocolate contains a compound known as theobromine which can increase the levels of HDL cholesterol and reduce your LDL cholesterol. Dark chocolate is also rich in flavonoids and antioxidants which can reduce the risk of clogged arteries, in that way preventing heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. However, this doesn’t mean that you should consume it all day long – just like with other foods, the key is to eat it in moderation. Take 1-2 small pieces every day and make sure to buy high-quality 60% cocoa dark chocolate.
Garlic is one of the most powerful vegetables you can eat. It contains a lot of healthy nutrients and is great for our heart and overall health. Studies have shown that consuming garlic on a daily basis can reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood, effectively preventing various cardiovascular problems. Use garlic in your meals, eat it raw if you can or buy a garlic supplement in order to boost your cardiovascular health.
Besides eating these foods, you also need to stop smoking, eat a diet low in saturated fats, exercise and keep your weight balanced, avoid fatty, fried and processed foods and avoid red meat, egg yolks and full-fat dairy products in order to keep your LDL cholesterol in check.