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Has the doctor told you that your cholesterol levels are too high? The biggest reason people diet is to reduce their cholesterol, though many people think it’s to lose weight. While losing weight is surely a benefit of changing your diet, getting your health on track is far more important.
That weight loss will be a nice side bonus to getting your cholesterol levels back to a healthy place. However, reducing cholesterol is important for your longevity. Even though HDL cholesterol is beneficial, the LDL cholesterol in high levels, especially when oxidized, can increase your risk for heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.
LDL cholesterol sticks to the walls of your arteries, creating plaque that eventually blocks the flow of blood through them. Something as simple as changing what you eat can save you from this fate. That is why the biggest reason people diet is to reduce their cholesterol.
Here’s what you can do to lower cholesterol levels through your diet with ease and live a long and healthy life!
Put soluble fiber into your diet
Because we don’t have enzymes to break down soluble fiber, it moves through the digestive tract. As it does, it soaks up water which makes it into a thick paste of sorts. This paste soaks up bile produced from your liver and then out it goes when you have a bowel movement.
That bile, which helps digests fats, is made from cholesterol. When your liver needs to make more bile, it draws cholesterol from the bloodstream, naturally lowering it. So, when you eat more foods with soluble fiber, you can lower your LDL cholesterol in a short amount of time.
This is the ideal place to start in your diet to reduce cholesterol. Soluble fiber is plentiful in whole grains, apples, citrus, beans, flax, and legumes. To get the right amount to make a difference in your cholesterol levels, try eating 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber every day.
- Add more colorful produce
Since the biggest reason people diet is to reduce their cholesterol levels, you can do so by eating more colorfully. Those fruits and vegetables are a quick and easy way to lower LDL cholesterol. They also have more antioxidants which prevents oxidizing and creating that plaque buildup in the arteries.
Add a salad on the side of lunch and dinner. Cut up veggies to snack on rather than reaching for chips, or bite into an apple which also has that soluble fiber to really help your cholesterol levels lower.
- Start using more herbs and spices in your meals
So many people use salt to flavor foods. While a little is fine, the vast majority put too much in their meals. Changing this bad habit by swapping in more herbs and spices will not only help reduce your cholesterol but also add more flavor.
Garlic, ginger, and turmeric are incredibly helpful for lowering cholesterol when you consume them regularly. Along with other herbs, you’re getting a bounty of antioxidants to help keep those arteries free and clear of that clogging plaque.
Use thyme, mint, sage, oregano, cinnamon, and all the spices in your spice rack. Buy fresh herbs and add them as a finish on your meals. Cook with the aromatics too, and you’ll be treated to big flavors that make your meals healthier without sacrificing flavor.
- Eat the right fats
For ages, we were told fat was a bad thing. But unsaturated fats are a very good thing for you. If the biggest reason people diet is to reduce their cholesterol, then this is the way to help it along. Go for olives or olive oil. Have fatty fish, nuts, and avocados too. These unsaturated fats are good for your heart, and they taste great as well.
At the same time, you want to steer clear of artificial trans fats. There are trans fats that occur naturally in dairy and red meat, but the problematic ones are artificial, made by hydrogenating to solidify them. Read your food labels so you can avoid choosing foods that list ‘partially hydrogenated’ which will tell you that it has that artificial trans-fat.
- Beware of added sugars
Added sugars can also cause big problems for cholesterol levels. Things like high fructose corn syrup in your beverages go down easy, but they complicate matters for your health. Fructose increases LDL cholesterol particles too which puts you at a greater risk for heart disease. You should read labels to watch for any hidden sugars while taking steps to reduce how much sugar you consume.
- Consider supplements
Some supplements may even be an ideal option for you. Niacin, psyllium husk, and L-carnitine are the most popular to add to the diet to reduce cholesterol. However, you should make sure you consult your doctor before trying them to make sure they won’t pose any problems for any medication you may be taking.
Since the biggest reason people diet is to reduce their cholesterol, you should not only focus on cutting things out of your diet but also shift to what you can eat instead. In particular, adding more soy may be beneficial because it can lower bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. However, the less processed forms of soy are most ideal. That means eating soybeans, which make a great snack, or drinking soy milk to keep your health on track.
Swap out your sodas and sugary drinks for green tea to help reduce your cholesterol. It is rich with antioxidants and making this switch can help you more quickly regain control over your health.
Overall though, when it comes to reducing cholesterol through your diet, you need to be as diverse as possible. Eating more of the foods that lower your cholesterol will give you better results. It’s possible to eat healthfully without feeling like you’re depriving yourself or suffering through bland platefuls of food.
Diet solution to reduce your cholesterol
An easy way to do so is by choosing a more Mediterranean-style of diet. It amplifies the use of fresh foods like vegetables, nuts, fruits, and beans to help you lower your cholesterol and keep your heart healthy. This is based on the cuisine that those in the Mediterranean countries eat which consists of an array of vibrant flavors that will make you rethink those traditional restrictive diets.
If the biggest reason people diet is to reduce their cholesterol, then the Mediterranean diet may be the best one to choose for such purposes. It is known for being heart healthy as well as allowing for delicious foods. By following the ways of the Mediterranean eating habits, you can lower your LDL cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease and death.
For the Mediterranean diet, you should make your meals based with vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Fish is also an important part of Mediterranean meals, so make sure you add it to your plate at least twice a week. Don’t fry it either – try grilling it or baking it with lemon, olive oil, and herbs.
Speaking of olive oil, make it the chosen fat for preparing your foods over butter or other oils. However, make sure you measure out a tablespoon which equates to 120 calories. While it is heart-healthy, adding too much olive oil can put you over your calorie requirement for the day without you even realizing it.
If you regularly eat desserts, swap them out for fresh fruits instead. A juicy slice of watermelon, a bowl of fresh berries, or apple slices will hit the spot.
Think of the tips above as you diet to reduce cholesterol. That soluble fiber will fill you up and leave you satisfied while helping your heart health. Those fruits and vegetables will give you the nourishment and antioxidants you need, and those herbs and spices will elevate the flavors while improving your health profile.
It also helps to think of the word ‘diet’ as something other than a punishment. Remember, we refer to what an animal eats as a diet, but we don’t see them measuring out foods, do we? Diet shouldn’t be a form of torture but a way of life. By making your diet one that isn’t restrictive and lowers your cholesterol, you’ll have the best of both worlds. Plus, you’ll likely lose some of that added weight in the process which will make you look and feel better too!