High cholesterol levels in the blood can lead to the artery clogging process, atherosclerosis, that drastically increases the chance of heart attacks. There are two main types of blood cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol and (HDL) or ‘good’ cholesterol. Too much LDL in the blood can lead to depositions of this bad cholesterol on the walls of coronary arteries leading to atherosclerosis. HDL on the other hand has a protective effect against heart disease.More HDL than LDL in the diet make it less likely that excess cholesterol in the blood will be deposited in the coronary arteries. By eating a healthy diet, including the right kind of fats, you can maintain healthy total cholesterol levels and lower LDL’s, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lower unhealthy fats
One of the most important determinants of blood cholesterol levels is fat in the diet, not total fat, but the specific types of fat consumed. Saturated fat and trans-fats are the main dietary factors that raise blood cholesterol levels. Trans-fats are the worst offenders, being one of the prime culprits in heart disease, having an even greater impact than saturated fats. The consumption of trans-fats actually raises ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels and lowers ‘good’ HDL cholesterol levels. Reduce your intake of these unhealthy fats by limiting processed foods, and greasy fast foods, which are notoriously high in these types of fats; choose low-fat dairy products; cook with healthy oils such as olive oil instead of vegetable oils; use flaxseed oil instead of butter; and trim fat from meat and skin from poultry.
Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, beans, and peas are a perfect food for people with high cholesterol levels. Legumes are low in fat and extremely rich in heart friendly nutrients such as vitamins B, iron and unsaturated fats. Legumes are also a rich source of soluble fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol levels. Tip: Try soaking dried legumes for around 6-8 hours for quicker, more even cooking, and add a strip of kombu (seaweed) to new cooking water to help breakdown the compound that commonly causes gas when you eat legumes.
Cook with olive oil
Olive oil is a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fats. Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils to cook with as it has a higher oxidation threshold than a lot of other monounsaturated oils. Olive oil remains stable at higher cooking temperatures making it more resistant to hydrogenation and the formation of trans-fats. Scientific studies have shown monounsaturated fats have a lowering effect on total cholesterol and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels, as well as reducing triglyceride levels (blood fats) and blood pressure. Diets containing monounsaturated fats are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease
Have oatmeal for breakfast
Whole oats are the perfect way to start the day, packed with heart healthy dietary fibre and nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin E and iron. Oats are an excellent source of soluble fibre, which has been scientifically proven to lower total cholesterol and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Soluble fibre is found in many other foods, including legumes, oat bran, brown rice, fresh and dried fruit, vegetables and seeds. Choose fibre-rich whole oats over quick oats, and make a wholesome breakfast like oat porridge, bircher muesli or natural muesli, with a variety of fresh fruits, nuts and seeds and a good spoonful of natural yoghurt
Garlic has been consumed in many Asian and European countries for years, not only for its powerful immune boosting powers but also for it’s heart protective properties. Many studies show that garlic as part of a healthy low-fat diet can help reduce high cholesterol levels -lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and raising ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, as well as reducing triglyceride levels. Garlic also helps to thin the blood which helps reduce the risk of heart attacks. Studies have also shown that countries that eat more garlic have less incidence of heart disease. Give yourself a good dose of garlic each day, try adding it to curries, stir-fries, pasta sauces, pesto, hummus, bruschetta and salad dressings