The foodie way of fighting high cholesterol is the way I have chosen to go. I’ve mentioned in several posts that I have high cholesterol. It runs in the family. I follow a high fiber, mostly plant based diet to fight it.
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance found in the cell membranes of body tissues. It is carried in the blood plasma. Medically it is called “atherosclerotic plaque”. Despite what you may believe, your body needs cholesterol. It is used to form and sustain cell membranes. Cholesterol also helps with the production of bile and aids in the metabolism of fat soluble vitamins.
Over time, cholesterol builds up on the artery walls. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis was once thought to be a disease for just the elderly. But in the 1950’s a study found it in the bodies of deceased soldiers whose average age was only 21! Their findings shocked the scientific community. Now we know that practically anyone can have high cholesterol levels.
There are two different types of cholesterol – low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
- HDL is commonly known as ‘good’ cholesterol. It is thought to reduce the chance of a heart attack.
- LDL is recognized as ‘bad’ cholesterol. LDL has been markedly linked with heart disease. I call it my “lousy cholesterol” 🙁
The Foodie Way of Fighting High Cholesterol
Fiber-rich foods like oatmeal and bran can be eaten for breakfast or in smoothies. Apples and pears also have considerable amounts of soluble fiber. You should enjoy them a daily basis. Fiber-rich foods are said to be particularly beneficial. They not only lower LDL, but also help to lower the risk of colon and bowel cancer.
Beans and lentils are high in fiber and low-fat. They also contain lecithin, a nutrient that lowers cholesterol. Try to add the many different types to your daily diet. I enjoy beans and lentils in my soups and salads.
Avocado contains large amounts of monounsaturated fat that help to reduce LDL cholesterol. It has many other health benefits too, including fighting cancer.
Raw carrots are rich in a fiber called pectin that is renowned for minimizing cholesterol. There are a number of fruits that also contain pectin like apples, citrus fruits, strawberries, raspberries and other red or black berries.
Shitake mushrooms are widely used by the Japanese. The have a compound called lentinan. It is thought to lower cholesterol and fight cancer. It may also help to boost the immune system.
Garlic is a superfood. It is well known for its blood-thinning properties. It also contains a substance allicin that is thought to prevent the body from retaining LDL cholesterol. Research has shown that the equivalent of one clove per day can lessen LDL by 10-15% in most people. Garlic isn’t just for keeping vampires away 😉
Root ginger has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. It has numerous health benefits. Add it to stir-fry’s (using healthy sesame oil) and other vegetable dishes. I find that ginger root has a strong flavor and zing to it though. Add slowly until you discover the right amount for your taste buds.
Nuts are naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids. They are known to significantly reduce blood cholesterol. Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds are especially beneficial.
Sesame seeds are rich in phytosterols. These compounds are said to substantially lessen LDL cholesterol. Other foods containing phytosterols include celery, lettuce, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, ginger, squash and strawberries.
Safflower, canola, soybean, and olive oil have monounsaturated fat. And are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Research indicates that they can decrease plaque by up to 15% when eaten regularly.
Salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel contain considerable amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. They have many health benefits and are essential for brain and eye function.
Prunes are a wonderful source of antioxidants and fiber that are known to reduce LDL cholesterol.
Alfalfa sprouts contain a substance called saponin. It is thought to obstruct and inhibit the formation of plaque in the arteries.
Staying Healthy with High Cholesterol
If you have high cholesterol or a family history of it, it is best to avoid processed and prepared foods. Processed and already-prepared-foods are often made with oils containing trans fats. The WORST kind of fat you can eat! If the ingredients list says “partially hydrogenated oil”, that food has trans fat in it even if the label says “zero trans fats”. Hydrogenated Oil by it’s very nature is a trans fat. Everyone should avoid trans fats, not just those with high cholesterol.
The key to lowering LDL cholesterol is a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of soluble fiber and at least five portions of fruit or vegetables a day. This combined with regular exercise should help keep the heart healthy and provide many other health benefits too.
The foodie way of fighting high cholesterol is the way I fight my high cholesterol. A high-fiber-mostly-plant-based diet. And trying to get my 10,000 steps in every day.
I hope you found this post helpful. Are there other topics you would like me to cover? You can send your requests through the contact form on the right. I’d be happy to look into them for you and share the information with our community.