10 Foods That Support Cholesterol Levels and Ways to Enjoy Them
Here's a list of 10 foods that help maintain good cholesterol levels, along with tips on ways to enjoy them.
You might be surprised to know that some of the best foods for your heart are actually the ones you're already eating! If you're looking for a way to support your cholesterol levels, these 10 foods are a great place to start.
What is the Link Between Diet and Cholesterol Levels?
Diet is one of the most crucial factors in maintaining cholesterol levels. The Heart Foundation recommends that people be proactive around preventative checking and management of cholesterol. They also suggest that we enjoy foods rich in fibre, and healthy oils. So what foods are helpful in managing our cholesterol?
Let's Take a look now!
Beans & Legumes
Beans and legumes are rich in soluble fibre, which helps lower cholesterol levels. There are many different you can enjoy beans and legumes. The easiest way is to buy canned beans and legumes. This is a good option when you don't have time to cook. You can also buy dried beans and legumes that you need to soak overnight before cooking them. You can also make a bean soup with vegetables or add beans and legumes to your salads, tacos, burritos, or pasta dishes.
The fibre in fruit helps to lower cholesterol levels and keep them at a healthy level. Fruit is also a great source of vitamins and minerals. Eating fruit regularly will give you an added boost of nutrients for your body, which will help you feel more energised!
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats, protein, and fibre. They are also high in unsaturated fats that can help lower cholesterol levels. There are many ways to eat nuts and seeds. You can add them to your yogurt, cereal, or salad for some extra crunch. You can also use them as a topping on your favourite dessert or mix them in with some dried fruit for a quick snack. Eating nuts and seeds is a great way to get the healthy fats our bodies need. They are packed with nutrients like magnesium, vitamin E, iron, folate and omega-3 fatty acids.
Margarines with Plant Sterols
Plant sterols are a family of compounds found in small quantities in many plant-based foods. Plant sterols lower cholesterol by blocking the absorption of dietary cholesterol from the gut. This helps support healthy cholesterol levels within the body, which is integral to maintaining good heart health. You need about 2g a day of plant sterols to see any benefit to cholesterol levels, and there aren't enough of these compounds in plant-based foods to lower cholesterol on their own.
The good news is there are many products available in supermarkets like margarine and milk with enough plant sterols added. Read our guide here for more information.
Oats are a type of cereal that is high in fibre. They're cheap and can be eaten as a breakfast cereal, added to a smoothie, cooked into a porridge, or chewy oat slice.
Oily fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish lowers cholesterol mainly because they contain high omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and research has shown that they can reduce the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood. Foods like salmon, sardines and mackerel are excellent options and are more affordable at the supermarket. Enjoy them on toast, in a sandwich or on your favourite pasta.
Tofu is a food made from soybeans. Soybeans are rich in protein, fibre, iron and other nutrients. Tofu is a popular meat substitute for vegetarian and vegan eaters because it contains all the essential amino acids. Soy products such as tofu can help lower cholesterol levels by decreasing LDL or "bad" cholesterol and increasing HDL or "good" cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Enjoy tofu in your favourite curry or stir-fry. Tofu is also delicious, crumbed with a tasty sauce and rice. My son gets me to fry some tofu and add a sprinkle of pepper and salt.
Vegetables are a great way to support cholesterol levels. They are high in fibre, which helps to lower cholesterol. Vegetables also contain potassium, which helps to balance the effects of sodium and is vital for lowering blood pressure.
Vegetables also contain antioxidants and other nutrients that help prevent heart disease. Check out these ways to add more vegetables to your meals.
Vegetable oils are plant-based fats that have been shown to help reduce cholesterol levels. The most common vegetable oils are soybean, canola, corn, olive, sunflower and peanut.
Vegetable oils provide an alternative to animal-based fats for cooking and eating. A good guide when choosing good oils to use in your cooking is to look for oils that are liquid at room temperature instead of solid. Read more about oils here.
Wholegrain bread is made using all the parts of the grain. The outer layer, or bran, is rich in fibre and other nutrients. The high amount of fibre in wholegrain bread is excellent for supporting cholesterol levels in your body. When you're at the supermarket, look for bread labelled with wholemeal, wholegrain, multigrain, or rye.
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