What you eat can be very important in lowering cholesterol levels, so here are 10 tips for lowering cholesterol with diet. For some people, high cholesterol runs in the family, especially where diabetes is involved, because high triglycerides can raise cholesterol levels. Other factors that cause cholesterol to rise are a lack of exercise, the type of foods you eat, being overweight and hormones.
To lower your cholesterol with diet, you will need:
- A list of foods you plan to eat
- A notebook to keep track of your daily cholesterol intake
- Knowledge of nutrition labels and how to read them
- Know which foods will help in lowering cholesterol. The Mayo Clinic recommends five specific types of foods that will help in lowering cholesterol. The recommended foods are foods high in soluble fiber, fish or other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, nuts like almonds or walnuts, olive oil, and foods that contain plant sterols or stanols.
- Eat foods high in soluble fiber. Some of the best foods that will help add soluble fibers to your diet are oatmeal or oat bran, apples, barley, kidney beans, prunes, and pears. Check the nutrient labels on your foods to check fiber content.
- Eat fatty fish at least twice per week. Eating fatty fish helps in lowering cholesterol levels, but also helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of blood clots. There are certain fish that contain more omega-3 fatty acids than others. Salmon, sardines and albacore tuna are perhaps the simplest because you can buy them in a can and serve them immediately. Other fish that are healthy are trout caught from a lake, mackerel, halibut and herring. Fish should be baked or grilled and not fried in unhealthy oils. If you don’t like fish, take an omega-3 supplement or throw some flaxseed on your salads and in your cereals, and cook with canola oil. You won’t get as much omega-3 as you would in fish, so if you are taking a supplement, be sure to add vegetables and lean meat to your diet.
- Add a handful of nuts to your diet to get some polyunsaturated fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fatty acids help in lowering cholesterol and are important to your blood vessels’ health. The best nuts to eat are walnuts and almonds, but peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans and some of the pine nuts work well, also. Eat these nuts sparingly because they are high in calories.
- Use olive oil for cooking or in your salad dressing. No one wants to slurp down two tablespoons of olive oil each day to get their antioxidants. Olive oil aids in lowering bad cholesterol without lowering good cholesterol. Easy ways to get your olive oil are to sauté your vegetables with it or use it for your salad dressing with vinegar. Olive oil is also high in calories, so be sure to stay within the recommended amount. Extra-virgin olive oil contains the most benefit. Don’t be fooled into thinking light olive oil contains fewer calories, because it is only referring to the color!
- Add some food with plant sterols or stanols. Add some margarine, liquid yogurt or orange juice that contains these added sterols. Two eight-ounce glasses of orange juice per day will give you the recommended amount.
- Make a list of healthy foods when you go shopping and stick to it. When you go to the store, check nutrition labels and avoid things that contain saturated or trans fats. Fill your fridge and cupboards with healthy fruits and vegetables, fish and other nutritious, high-fiber, low-fat foods. Use canola or olive oil for cooking.
- Start your day out by eating a bowl of oatmeal. A healthy breakfast works wonders for getting your body ready to face the day.
- Use egg substitutes or make your omelets with only the white of the egg. Eggs are a controversial food when it comes to cholesterol, so consume them with care.
- Avoid butter, sour cream and other rich sauces and use spices to flavor your food instead. This will also keep you healthier in general, but can help lower your cholesterol specifically.
Lowering your cholesterol with diet may just be enough to eliminate the need for cholesterol medication. Eat healthy and be well!