Cholesterol is a type of fat, also known as a lipid, that’s found naturally in the body where it’s needed to perform many vital functions. It is present in the brain, the liver, our nervous system, the blood, and bile – in both humans and animals. This is why experts recommend avoiding the consumption of animal products if a person is diagnosed with high cholesterol.
The liver generates most of the body’s cholesterol, while the remainder is consumed through our diet. Low-density lipoprotein, which we know as bad cholesterol or LDL, is what’s responsible for clogging our arteries because it’s deposited in the arterial walls and causes serious cardiovascular problems and other diseases. The good cholesterol that the body needs is known as HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, and it helps remove the bad cholesterol clogging our arteries and liver, making it possible for the body to eliminate it.
Although high cholesterol can be caused by various disorders or genetic factors, most people tend to develop it as a result of a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. So to control and prevent high cholesterol, it’s important to change certain habits and the foods we eat.
Food to control high cholesterol
As mentioned above, the food we eat plays a very important role in preventing and controlling high cholesterol. A healthy diet can help eliminate bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise HDL levels. Here we’ll discuss some of the foods that help control your cholesterol.
The consumption of vegetable fiber, especially soluble fiber, is essential for controlling cholesterol because it binds to the fats and helps remove them through the bowels. Vegetable fiber is present in foods like beans, oats, barley, and fruits like apples. The most recommended foods for lowering cholesterol are oat bran and brown rice.
Experts recommend eating fish at least twice a week because it’s rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for helping remove bad cholesterol and triglycerides present in the blood. Obviously there are other foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids, but fish is one of the richest sources. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring, and trout are especially recommended.
Olive oilOlive oil can help remove the bad LDL cholesterol without altering our levels of good HDL cholesterol. Experts recommend consuming 2 tablespoons of olive oil a day.
Fruit and vegetable juices
Natural fruit and vegetable juices as a mid-morning snack can help lower levels of bad cholesterol. These can be made with fresh vegetables combined with fruit, or only fruit – whatever you prefer. This important thing is to make them with fresh foods and preferably without any added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Consumer Reports indicates that 25 grams of soy protein consumed every day can help lower your cholesterol by up to 10%. That amount is equivalent to two or three servings of products like soy milk, soybeans, or tofu.
Nuts and whole grainsNuts and whole grains contain ingredients that prevent cholesterol from being absorbed into the blood. It’s recommended to eat three servings per day, equivalent to about one pound.
Healthy habits for controlling high cholesterol
The following habits are also very important when it comes to controlling and preventing high levels of bad cholesterol. Leading a healthy lifestyle won’t just help you avoid bad cholesterol, though – it will also give you a better quality of life.
Give up smoking
The use of tobacco products lowers levels of good cholesterol, increasing the risk of blood clots. Smokers also tend to have serious problems like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Avoid excessive alcohol consumptionExcess alcohol consumption increases the levels of triglycerides in the blood and makes heavy drinkers more prone to cardiovascular diseases. People who drink in moderation have a lower risk of these problems.
Regular physical activity helps increases the levels of good cholesterol, while eliminating the bad stuff. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, five days a week. Obviously those who exercise longer will see greater benefits.
Get rid of junk food
Eating lots of junk foods inevitably will raise levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. Avoid consuming French fries, burgers, potato chips, fried and breaded meats, fatty meats, oils, and any food that’s high in saturated or “trans” fats. The consumption of all kinds of junk food inevitably raises levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.