8 Foods That Lower LDL Cholesterol
Image Credit: Almonds | Image Credit: Pexels.com

High cholesterol levels are bad for health, but it’s the levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) that are really important for heart health. LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, makes up most of the cholesterol in your body. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) absorbs the cholesterol in your blood and transports it back to your liver, which then flushes it from the body. Therefore, you want higher levels of HDL and lower levels of LDL. Too much LDL can build up on the walls of your body’s blood vessels—this is called plaque, which is the reason behind eventual heart attacks and strokes. LDL is of two types: large, buoyant particles and small, dense particles. The smaller, denser particles are considered more problematic because they can penetrate inside an artery’s wall. Studies indicate that these smaller, denser LDL particles pose a 3-fold greater cardiovascular health risk. And not all drugs are entirely effective at bringing down the levels of small LDL.

These, however, are manageable through diet. Here is a list of foods that can control the levels of (small, dense) LDL in your body:

1.    Extra virgin Olive oil

Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats. When we replace saturated fats found in cheaper cooking oils (vegetable oils, etc.) with these monounsaturated fats, we see a drop in "bad" LDL cholesterol. Extra virgin olive oil also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have long-term health benefits and ward off diseases. According to Harvard Health Publishing, "observational studies have shown a link between lower risks of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and even dementia in people who consume higher amounts of olive oil than those who use little or none." Extra virgin olive oil also has more phenols, which are thought to have higher antioxidant potency.

2.    Avocado

This fruit can reduce the small, dense LDL particles in your body. It is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which help reduce LDL levels. When consumed regularly, avocados may also help increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

3.    Pistachios 

Not only are pistachios tasty, they are also heart-friendly! Studies showed that consuming 20% of your daily calories from pistachios for 4 weeks reduced LDL levels by as much as 12%! Pistachios also help lower blood pressure. We’re talking about the unsalted ones, of course.

4.    Dark chocolate  

How can anyone not love dark chocolate? It has the best flavor in the world, and when it is eaten without added sugars, it is one of the most heart-healthy foods out there. Cocoa has a lot of powerful antioxidants that go into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage. Such oxidation makes LDL particles damage tissues like the lining of the arteries in your heart. Dark chocolate helps stop this damaging oxidation and reduces LDL levels.

5.    Almonds 

Almonds are superfoods and will appear on most healthy food lists. Research shows that almonds reduce LDL-C, which poses a threat to heart health. They also increase HDL, which makes them the perfect shield for a healthy heart. Eating 45 grams of almonds per day will benefit your cardiovascular health significantly.

6.    Walnuts 

Walnuts are packed with folate, vitamin E, and many good fats. They’re high in calories but don’t seem to contribute to weight gain. Similar to almonds, a handful of walnuts eaten daily can bring down your LDL levels considerably over time. They are high in calories, so watch the portions.

7.    Oats  

Oats are often prescribed for people who have high cholesterol levels. This is because oats have soluble fiber, which lowers LDL levels in the body. When you eat fiber, it becomes gooey in the digestive tract. This fiber sticks to cholesterol particles and stops them from being absorbed by the intestines. When the body purges the fiber from your system, it also expels the cholesterol. Just add oatmeal to your breakfast, and you’ll be well on your way to healthy cholesterol levels in a few months.

8.    Apples 

Once again, the apple comes to the rescue! Apples contain polyphenols, which stop the oxidation of LDL particles and help reduce LDL levels. Research shows that eating two or three medium-sized apples per day led to a big drop in cholesterol levels, between 5 percent and 13 percent. The pectin in apples may also reduce LDL levels and even lower blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk for heart disease.

Add these eight foods to your diet on a daily or weekly basis, and you’ll be giving your heart a boost in terms of health and vitality. These foods clean up the body, purge the bad cholesterol, and keep your heart and your arteries healthy for a lifetime.