Certain foods can help bring down high cholesterol naturally, without the potentially dangerous side effects of medication. Here are some superfoods that can drive down blood cholesterol levels:
1. Oats. Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal or a cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios that deliver 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a sliced banana for even more heart-healthy fiber. Soluble fiber is broken down to form short-chain fatty acids that help block the formation of LDL cholesterol, which can cause arterial damage.
2. Beans. This healthy staple is rich in soluble fiber and takes longer to digest so you feel fuller longer. And there are many choices — navy, garbanzo, lentils, blackeyed peas — so you won’t run out of options.
3. Nuts. Studies have shown that eating just two ounces of nuts daily can lower LDL cholesterol. Although they’re 80 percent fat, it’s unsaturated fat that helps lower LDL levels, decreases your risk of developing blood clots, and may improve the lining of your arteries. Walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts are particularly heart-healthy.
4. Foods fortified with sterols. Sterols and stanols are plant extracts that help prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol from food. Many manufacturers add sterols to products such as granola bars, spreads, and yogurt.
5. Fatty fish. Eating at least two servings of salmon, trout, mackerel, or other coldwater fish instead of red meat has heart-healthy benefits. Meat boosts LDL cholesterol levels, while fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that drive LDL down and boost healthier HDL cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids also help prevent inflammation that causes plaque buildup in the arteries, leading to heart attack or stroke.
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