It is no secret that an avalanche of cholesterol is floating in the blood of millions of people. No thanks to the Western diet which encourages the consumption of animal products. Red meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy foods are the main dietary sources of cholesterol. In addition to containing an abundant amount of cholesterol, these animal foods are also high in saturated and trans fats, which trigger the liver to make more cholesterol. For most individuals, these additional amounts of cholesterol from the liver and diet can send their cholesterol concentrations soaring from a normal, healthy level to one that is high and unhealthy.
High blood levels of cholesterol are one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Despite the fact that heart disease is the number one killer disease in the United States, many cases of heart disease are preventable, especially those types for which high cholesterol is a major factor. An individual's choice of foods may raise or lower those cholesterol levels, up or down. So instead of consuming foods that increase the amount of cholesterol floating in the bloodstream, individual's should consider these healthier cholesterol-lowering foods:
1) Beans and Legumes
The findings of a 2014 study show that a 5 percent reduction in the concentrations of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (bad cholesterol) is associated with daily intake of beans and other legumes. Legumes are excellent sources of soluble fiber. This form of fiber promotes the excretion of cholesterol via the feces by binding to bile acids the body produces to help digest foods. The body uses cholesterol to make bile acids. As more bile acids are excreted, more cholesterol is used to produce more bile acids, resulting in a decrease in plasma levels of cholesterol. This action of soluble fiber helps to reduce the concentrations of cholesterol floating in the bloodstream.
2) Citrus Fruits and Apples
Pectin is a gummy, cholesterol-binding, and hard-to-digest carbohydrate that is found in the cell walls of fruits, such as oranges, lemons, and apples. The gummy and cholesterol-binding characteristics of pectin make it suitable for ridding the body of excess cholesterol. As rich sources of pectin, apples, oranges, and lemons have long been recognized as a vital cholesterol-lowering component of every healthy diet. One recent study reveals consistent consumption of foods rich in pectin decreased plasma cholesterol levels by 7 to 10 percent in individuals with high cholesterol levels.
3) Oats and Other Whole Grains
Oats and other fiber-rich whole grains are a powerful arsenal that should be deployed in every fight against high cholesterol. Oats are packed with beta-glucan—a type of soluble fiber that help to mop up and ferry cholesterol out of the body. Adding more oats and other whole grains to breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates can go a long way to flush out unhealthy cholesterol from the body and reduce heart disease risk.