Eat your way to healthier cholesterol
When it comes to keeping your cholesterol in good shape, food may be the best medicine. By adopting clever eating strategies, you can help keep the 'bad' (or LDL) cholesterol within a healthy range and promote heart health. The best news is they’re all foods you probably already have in your kitchen. And they taste good too!
A brazil nut a day…
Researchers in Brazil have found that eating just four Brazil nuts was enough to help lower LDL cholesterol. It was a small sample group but even a month after eating the nuts, cholesterol levels stayed down. If you don’t like chewing on them, try blending them up in with your smoothie.
Go mushy over avocados
MUFAs or monounsaturated fatty acids are a healthy type of fat that you might want to get to know better. MUFAs are a great addition to the diet as they help to lower LDL cholesterol, while increasing HDL – or the ‘good’- cholesterol levels. Avocados are a rich source of MUFAs and are delicious whipped up into a guacamole and drizzled with olive oil – another potent source of these healthy fats. Beware if you’re watching your weight, though, and use avocados in place of other fatty foods like meat or butter to balance your fat intake.
Eating more soluble-fibre-rich beans may help maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels. We’re not talking here about the fresh green variety but pulses such as kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils. Eating just three-quarters of a cup a day can help lower your blood cholesterol levels. Not bad when all you need do is have a satisfying breakfast of baked beans on wholegrain toast to start the day or easy-to-make chilli beans and rice for dinner. Just make sure you introduce these foods gradually as too much too soon can have some unpleasant digestive effects.
Go wild for oats
Oats contain a sticky type of soluble fibre called betaglucan which binds to cholesterol in the gut and may prevent it from being absorbed into the body. Studies suggest that eating oats every day can help reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood. Make oats into porridge with fibre-rich berries or banana, and in warmer weather serve them cold as a bircher muesli. Add some chopped walnuts to further boost the effects. Walnuts may help lower total cholesterol in people with high levels, thanks to the alpha-linolenic acid they contain, and they also have higher levels of antioxidants than other nuts.