foods low in cholesterol: cholesterol is a substance found in the body in charge of regulating functions such as the formation of bile acids or some types of hormones. Although it is necessary, if its presence in the blood is above the levels considered normal, it produces hypercholesterolemia, a risk factor for certain heart diseases.
Experts point out that this disease can be avoided if you lead a healthy lifestyle, which includes sports, and a balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean diet.
In fact, one of the first indications that is usually given when a patient has high cholesterol is to change the diet. “The most effective foods to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood are those that have a high amount of soluble fiber and peptine because they bind to cholesterol in the intestine, favoring its elimination through the feces”, explains Sergio Caja, a doctor in molecular biology from the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC) in Madrid, trained in Nutrition and Scientific Management by the Instituto de Empresa.
The expert points out that in addition, food must be rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids , since these lower cholesterol levels, must have stanols and sterols , which are plant compounds that prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. “Finally, they must contain anthocyanins that favor a lower production of cholesterol in the body,” he adds.
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Although there is not a single food that has all these characteristics in such important quantities that by itself it can be the key in reducing cholesterol, there is a wide variety that have some of the aforementioned characteristics and therefore should be consumed regularly.
What are the treatments for high cholesterol?
Treatments for high cholesterol are heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medications. Lifestyle changes include a healthy diet, weight control, and regular physical activity.
How can I lower my cholesterol with diet?
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a diet to lower cholesterol. The DASH eating plan is one example. Another is the diet of therapeutic lifestyle changes. These are the recommendations:
Choose healthier fats . You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from dietary fat , and less than 7 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending on the number of calories you eat per day, these are the maximum amounts of fat you should eat:
Saturated fat is a harmful fat because it raises your bad cholesterol (LDL) level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and processed and fried foods.
foods to lower cholesterol
Nine clinical studies have observed that including avocado in the diet, especially in those who have hypercholesterolemia, favors the reduction of total cholesterol levels between 9 and 45 percent, as well as LDL cholesterol.
“Although the reason is not very clear, it is known that they have a high fiber content, which reduces their absorption, and as they are very rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, they reduce LDL levels. On the other hand, avocado is the fruit with the most stanols and sterols, which favors a lower intestinal absorption of cholesterol. Consuming between a half and an avocado and a half a day during the main meal can be a very effective tool if you want to lower cholesterol ”, recommends the expert.
2) Whole grains
Whole grains also help regulate cholesterol. In fact, Caja mentions that there are several research works in which the consumption of whole grains has been linked to the reduction of cholesterol levels. And what cereal is better to take? The expert recommends oatmeal, since it is the most effective and after consuming it for six weeks it lowers LDL cholesterol.
“The incorporation in the diet of about 70-100 grams of oats every day, for example at breakfast, provides 63 percent of the recommended daily dose of fiber, which very significantly favors the reduction of cholesterol levels . In addition, other whole grains should be incorporated into the diet, such as whole-wheat bread, pasta or rice ”, he specifies.
“It is very interesting that plant foods with a high percentage of fat have the ability to regulate the cholesterol profile as well as nuts do,” says Caja, who points out that among nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios or the Brazil nut highlights the macadamia nut.
“On the one hand, this tasty dried fruit reduces LDL levels by 4 percent, while it increases HDL cholesterol by 7 percent after four weeks of taking it in the diet. A daily consumption of a handful (about 40 grams) of roasted nuts without salt is recommended, especially during breakfast ”.
Legumes are very rich in fiber, which favors a decrease in the absorption of LDL cholesterol. Lentils, in addition to reducing LDL, increase HDL, which is very beneficial for heart health.
Other legumes, such as peas, lower total cholesterol levels by 5 percent and LDL by 8. However, soybeans are the legume that most reduces cholesterol levels . “Its consumption mainly in the form of beans or as a derivative product ( milk or tofu), has the ability to lower total cholesterol by 11 percent and LDL by between 5 and 25 percent, which together with its ability to increasing HDL levels is very beneficial for heart health. “
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The expert explains that the general recommendation is to eat at least between 11 and 50 grams of legumes such as soybeans, peas or lentils (which provide 60 percent of the recommended daily dose of fiber) about three times a week.
Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, reduce cholesterol levels, especially when the diet is very rich in fat, since they favor a greater elimination of cholesterol in the stool.
On the other hand, these vegetables contain a high percentage of stanols and sterols, which also means that there is less intestinal absorption of cholesterol. Other vegetables, such as broccoli, have a very beneficial effect on hypercholesterolems, among other things due to their high levels of fiber.
6) Natural HMG-CoA Inhibitors
“The production of cholesterol in our body depends on the activity of an enzyme called HMG-CoA. Foods very rich in long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, also called omega-3s, have functions in inhibiting this enzyme, which favors a decrease in the production of cholesterol ”, explains the expert.
Some foods very rich in omega-3s are flax seeds, or chia, spinach, radish, germinated alfalfa ; some legumes and of course seed oils or nuts, to name a few examples.
Other inhibitors of the enzyme that is responsible for the production of cholesterol are lycopenes, or a series of chemical compounds that are part of some foods such as guava, watermelon, tomato (especially sun-dried tomato) or grapefruit . These lower cholesterol levels by around 10 percent. Therefore, the recommended amount of lycopene is between 25 and 35 milligrams per day (one hundred grams of dried tomato, for example, contains 45 milligrams).
7) Foods rich in anthocyanins
Finally, anna specifies that some fruits, vegetables and other products of plant origin contain a high concentration of certain pigments called anthocyanins, which give colors from red to orange and from blue to purple.
The interesting thing is that some studies have observed that incorporating anthocyanins has the ability to lower LDL cholesterol levels between 16 and 25 percent in individuals with hypercholesterolemia, and this effect is only specific in these individuals.
In other words, the body in the presence of anthocyanins produces less cholesterol. Some foods that contain these compounds are raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, acai or eggplant skin. Hypercholesterolemic patients should consume about 100 grams per day of foods rich in anthocyanins ”, he concludes.
OTHER CHANGES IN DIET For any of these foods to provide their benefits, it is necessary to make changes in the diet but also in the lifestyle. Trans fats, sometimes found in margarines and commercial cookies, salty bread, and cakes are particularly bad for cholesterol levels. Trans fats increase low-density lipoproteins (LDL), the bad cholesterol, and reduce high-density lipoproteins (HDL), the good cholesterol. In addition to changing your diet, remember that making additional …
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