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Tuesday, 4 February 2020

40 Tasty Foods That Can Help You Lower Your Cholesterol

Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a naturally sweet treat you should feel great about; it contains more cocoa than other chocolate products, which provides higher amounts of flavonoids in each serving (a boon for your cardiovascular system!). A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that eating dark chocolate (as well as almonds!) improved blood lipid profiles over time. Try to select a dark chocolate product that is at least 75% concentrated or higher, says Stefani Sassos, MS, RD, a registered dietitian with the Good Housekeeping Institute.

Strawberries
Polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds that naturally help to regulate your cardiovascular system, are found in high amounts in strawberries. Research has linked strawberries to a lower risk of heart disease due to their high polyphenol counts.

Okra
A low-calorie veggie that's perfect as a healthy weeknight side, okra is an especially heart-healthy soluble fiber. It's another good source of polyphenols, which fights inflammation naturally as part of a balanced diet.

Potatoes
A baked potato actually provides more heart-healthy potassium than a banana. Getting an adequate amount of this all-important nutrient can also lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Tomatoes
Here's another potassium all-star, with vitamins A and C to boot. Tomatoes also contain the antioxidant lycopene, a compound linked to reducing LDL cholesterol levels in higher doses.

Tuna
Whether you go fresh or canned, eating at least two servings of tuna per week can help slow the growth rate of plaque, according to the American Heart Association. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can also decrease triglyceride levels, another risk factor for heart disease.

Raspberries
With 8 grams of fiber in just a cup, raspberries can move your numbers in the right direction. Eating adequate fiber (at least 25 grams per day) decreases LDL levels and supports healthy digestion.

Black Beans
Black beans are even more fiber-dense, with 8 grams in a half-cup, 100-calorie serving. You'll get plenty of filling plant-based protein too.

Kale
Potassium, magnesium, antioxidants, fiber: Kale hits the heart-healthy jackpot. The minerals in cruciferous vegetables (including cabbage and Brussels sprouts) especially can counterbalance the effects of sodium, warding off hypertension.

Apples
Science agrees: An apple a day may in fact keep your cardiologist away. Evidence has shown that frequent apple consumption may reduce total cholesterol. That’s thanks to the phenolic compounds found in apple skins — a.k.a. the antioxidant compounds that promote healthy cellular function and proper blood flow.

Pecans
Pecans are chock-full of monounsaturated fatty acids, a type of fat linked with improving total cholesterol levels. Another benefit of these tasty tree nuts: Pecans are filled with plant-based antioxidants — including beta carotene and vitamin E — that protect cells from damage from chronic inflammation.

Sweet Potatoes and Squash
Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, parsnip, and other good-for-you tubers are lower in calories, filled with fiber, and chock-full of potassium and beta-carotene, both of which protect against heart disease.

Oats
Oats contain a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which is linked with lowering LDL levels, according to the British Journal of Nutrition. It does this by absorbing water in your GI tract and removing excess saturated fat before it enters your bloodstream.

Lentils
Lentils are pulses, a.k.a. the dry edible seeds of certain crops (like beans, chickpeas, and peas). Pulses are just everywhere these days because they’re packed with plant-based protein and fiber, not to mention antioxidants, minerals, and B vitamins. All of those compounds help protect you from plaque buildup while optimizing blood flow and assisting your body in efficiently using the nutrients you consume.

Walnuts
Eating walnuts regularly was linked with a reduced risk of heart disease, according to data from the Nurses' Health Study. Eating as little as one serving of these nuts each week can lower your chances of cardiovascular disease by up to 19%! Consider swapping walnuts for croutons in salads and soups; add ‘em to breakfast cereal or yogurt; or nosh on walnuts with fruit to reap the cholesterol-lowering benefits.

Avocado Oil
Extracted from the pulp of the avocado fruit, avocado oil carries many of the same benefits; its loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats which can help reduce high-blood pressure and cholesterol.

Flaxseeds
A great source of fiber, flaxseeds are also chock full of omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, which is another plant-based compound that can holistically lower your risk of stroke, per research published in Nutrition Reviews. These are all nutrients that the American Heart Association recommends for improving heat health. Plus, flaxseeds contain phytosterols which can help reduce LDL cholesterol in the body.

Herbs and Spices
Flavor foods with herbs and spices whenever you can. It’ll help you cut back on condiments high in saturated fat while maximizing flavor. Spices and herbs also pack antioxidants, which can help improve cholesterol levels when combined with veggies. Ones we love: basil, cilantro, rosemary, sage, ginger, garlic, tarragon, black and red chili pepper, mint, and oregano.

Avocado
Because they're rich in heart-healthy unsaturated fats and fiber, avocados can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Clinical trials have consistently found that eating avocados can lower your LDL cholesterol, with a beneficial effect on lipid and lipoprotein profiles.

Blueberries
Some studies have connected eating blueberries regularly with decreased blood pressure. That’s thanks to their circulation-boosting effect on blood vessels (otherwise known as "vasodilation"), which slows the rate of atherosclerosis.

Quinoa
Cooking up more quinoa could lower your risk of heart disease by improving total cholesterol, triglycerides, and lowering LDL, according to recent research studies. That’s thanks to the wholesome grain’s antioxidant, fiber, and B vitamin content that may improve blood flow.

Salmon
As one of nature’s best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon has many health benefits, including reducing inflammation and triglycerides.

Spinach
Adding more leafy greens to your plate can help lower cholesterol by promoting your body production of nitric oxide (NO), which helps dilate blood vessels and reduce atherosclerosis.

Peanut Butter
Peanuts pack resveratrol and other phytosterols, compounds linked with blocking cholesterol absorption in the gut. The protein powerhouses also work in 8 grams in just 2 tablespoons of peanut butter!

Almonds
If you’re on the hunt for a snack, consider picking up some almonds. Population studies have shown that consistent intake of almonds reduces risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol levels — maintaining HDL and lowering LDL.

Olives and Olive Oil
This Mediterranean diet staple is chock-full of monounsaturated fatty acids, the type of fat linked with improving total cholesterol levels. Specific compounds in olives may also limit the initiation of the inflammatory process — another high cholesterol-promoting risk factor.

Grapes
Like other produce, grapes contain polyphenolic compounds that may reduce cellular damage. Eating about 1 to 2 cups of grapes per day can also help protect your tissues and decrease markers of inflammation.

Eggplant
This nightshade has been linked to reducing oxidative stress in a 2015 review article published in Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative MedicineStress can lead to high cholesterol by initiating chronic inflammation and plaque form.

Unsweetened Soy Milk
Filled with plant-based antioxidants and minerals, this protein-packed dairy alternative can help improve your lipid levels. That’s because it’s lower in saturated fat than other vegan swaps (ahem, coconut oil). Unsweetened versions cut back on sneaky sources of added sugar, so use it in your morning latté for a cholesterol-lowering caffeine boost.

Corn Oil
This overlooked cooking oil belongs in your pantry because it contains plant-sterols, compounds that decrease how much cholesterol-raising saturated fat your body absorbs. Plus, it’s packed with antioxidants like other plant-based oils: canola, olive, grapeseed, peanut, safflower, sunflower, and avocado.

Pistachios
Research has linked pistachios with raising HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL cholesterol. Since these nuts are fiber-rich and antioxidant-packed, they also protect your body's cells from oxidative stress, the damage that allows for plaque build-up in your arteries.

Hummus
Fiber, especially the soluble kind in beans, is linked with improved heart health. And chickpeas give one of the best cholesterol-lowering boosts. Just 1/3 cup of chickpeas contains about 12 grams of fiber — half your daily value. What's more, these hearty beans are packed with antioxidants and associated with lower LDLs.

Buckwheat, Barley, and Bulgur
These fiber-rich grains provide similar cholesterol-lowering benefits as oats, but our favorite thing about B grains is their versatility. Try buckwheat noodles or buckwheat flour in pancakes, barley in soups, and bulgur in salads and cereal for a healthy dose of soluble fiber.

Cherries
A cherry gets its color from anthocyanin, a type of phytonutrient with powerful antioxidant capabilities. Try adding frozen cherries to morning smoothies or tossing dried, unsweetened cherries with salads.

Edamame
While research has linked soybeans, tofu, and soy milk with lower cholesterol, this healthy snack is another delicious way to help decrease bad cholesterol by replacing other proteins typically high in saturated fat. Since edamame is also full of fiber, it can help curb cravings too.

Pumpkin
Low in calories but rich in fiber, pumpkin is an antioxidant-rich, seasonal swap for sweet potatoes.

Chia Seeds
Looking for a vegetarian form of omega-3s? Chia seeds are full of the fatty acid, as well as fiber, protein, and antioxidants. They can be consumed whole or added to soups, cereal, smoothies, puddings, and even baked goods.

Bananas
Bananas lower cholesterol by removing it from your digestive system, preventing it from moving into your bloodstream and clogging your arteries. For an extra heart-healthy boost, slice bananas on top of morning oats with a tablespoon of chia seeds.

Sardines
They may be small, but they're packed with omega-3s. Plus, sardines have less mercury than other fatty fish and come readily available in canned form. Just be sure to buy them packed in water, not oil.

Sesame Oil
Sesame oil is a lesser-known source of the monounsaturated fats typically touted in olive oil and avocados. Swapping it in for cooking oil gives any sauté or side dish a nutty flavor, so try it with snap peas, garlic, and ginger. Just remember, monounsaturated fats are still fats (i.e., excess calories), so make sure you're using a single tablespoon per serving.

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