If you have high cholesterol, the easiest way to keep it in check is through developing the right diet, but how do you know what the best foods for lower cholesterol are? When you are trying to figure out what dietary changes you need to make to improve your cholesterol, the most important elements to focus on are your fat and fiber intake.
Bad fats can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood stream, but good fats and fiber will reduce it.
The Bad Fat: Saturated Fats and Trans-Fatty Acids
Saturated fats are the fats you find mainly in meat, dairy, and most processed foods. They are unhealthy fats that raise your cholesterol levels and therefore your risk of heart disease. They are also bad for your overall health and have been known to exacerbate, or even cause, other degenerative diseases.
Trans-fatty acids are an especially bad type of fat. These are man-made fats that are produced by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, and they are mainly found in fried foods like french fries and donuts. These fats are incredibly bad for your cholesterol levels and should be avoided as much as possible.
Good Fat: Unsaturated Fats and Omega-3
Unsaturated fat, however, is considered to be “good” fat, although it should still be consumed in moderation. Unsaturated fats are generally split into two main categories: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
Monounsaturated fats are most commonly found in nuts, avocados, and olive, peanut, and canola oils. Polyunsaturated fats are usually found in vegetable and plant oils, such as corn, sunflower, and soy. Both of these unsaturated fats are healthy in moderation and can protect against heart disease by lowering the bad cholesterol in your body and boosting the good kind.
An important type of polyunsaturated fat is Omega-3 . This fatty acid, found mainly in fish, has an outstanding ability to improve your cholesterol levels. For this reason, fish is one of the best foods for lower cholesterol. Try to make fish your main course as a substitute for red meat and chicken, which are high in saturated fats.
Fat is a main source of energy for our bodies and a necessary component of our diets, but only in moderation. Overall, your dietary fat intake should not exceed 35% of your daily diet, and most of this should be “good” fat, that is, unsaturated fats. Your intake of saturated fats should be kept at less than 10% of your daily diet, if possible.
The Necessity of Fiber
If you are trying to find the best foods for lower cholesterol, look no further than your section. Not only do fruit and vegetables often contain the good, unsaturated form of fat, but they also contain another essential cholesterol reducer: fiber.
Almost all fruits, vegetables, and grain products contain at least some fiber, but the best foods for lowering your cholesterol are legumes, citrus fruits, and oats. These foods are rich in soluble fiber, a subcategory of fiber that is especially good for fighting cholesterol.
Soluble fiber works by reducing the re-absorption of bile salts into your intestines, which in turn causes the liver to create more bile. Bile salts are produced using cholesterol, so the more bile salts your liver produces, the more cholesterol it uses up. This of course reduces the amount of cholesterol in your blood stream.
In summary, if you want to lower your cholesterol and keep your circulatory system healthy, then fruit, vegetables, fish, and grains should make up a much larger portion of your diet than red meat, dairy, and processed foods. Just try to remember to stay away from saturated fats and trans-fatty acids, and to gravitate more towards unsaturated fats and fiber. With this basic guideline in mind you will have a much easier time determining what the best foods for lower cholesterol are.