Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) are two types of cholesterol-transporting lipoproteins in the body. Because higher amounts of LDL have been linked to an enhanced risk of heart disease, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is sometimes known as “bad” cholesterol. HDL is referred to as “good” cholesterol because it carries bad cholesterol to the liver, where it is then removed from the body.
Fortunately, diets that promote good general health and weight loss are also those that can help improve your cholesterol levels and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
“A heart-healthy diet that helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels includes foods high in fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and healthy proteins, with little salt and saturated fats like fatty meats and butter,” explains Lisa Young.
Here are some dietary patterns that people who have achieved desirable cholesterol levels tend to follow:
1 — They eat oatmeal for breakfast.
“I’m aware of my diet and have been able to keep my cholesterol in a healthy range without using medicines” said nutritionist Christina Laboni.
Breakfast is typically steel-cut oats for her. “Steel-cut oats have soluble fiber, which is a type of fiber that helps reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood,” she explains. “A lot of people will tell you to quit eating foods high in cholesterol, which has its place, but it’s usually better to concentrate on what you can eat instead of eliminating anything.” Steel-cut oats are the most unprocessed and take longer to cook, so I frequently make a big batch that I may reheat throughout the week.
Three to four gm of soluble fiber per day, according to studies, has been shown to aid in lowering LDL cholesterol by almost 10% over the course of several weeks.
Oatmeal isn’t the only soluble fiber-rich food out there. “Breakfast is a great way to start your day off with a bang, as you may eat many plant-based sources of fiber to help lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and increase HDL ‘good’ cholesterol,” said Amber Ingram, RD, a registered dietitian. “Fiber is present in the skin and peels of vegetables, fruits, and legumes.”
2 — They stay away from sugary drinks.
“It’s becoming more apparent that genetics have a bigger role in cholesterol metabolism, but there are still certain dietary behaviors that can cause high cholesterol, such as drinking lots of sugary beverages,” Trista Best, an RD and professor of nutrition at Balance One Supplements, tells us.
Making a habit of avoiding sugary beverages (SSBs), such as soda, fruit juice cocktails, sweet alcoholic drinks, and sweet tea and coffee, may help your cholesterol levels. According to a 12-year study involving 6,000 participants, high SSB consumption was linked to high cholesterol, including unfavorable changes in triglyceride and good HDL cholesterol levels.
3 — They take a psyllium supplement.
The average American eats less than the recommended 21 to 25 gm of dietary fiber daily for females and 30 to 38 grams daily for males, according on the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Furthermore, obtaining an adequate amount of the soluble kind is difficult. Taking a fiber supplement like psyllium husks might be one solution if you’re having problems getting enough fiber.
Psyllium husk, like oatmeal and beans, is a wonderful source of soluble fiber, which binds to cholesterol in the gut and prevents it from being reabsorbed into the body.
You can use psyllium husk powder in juice or other beverages. It produces a thick gel in the stomach, keeping you fuller longer. Psyllium husk is also available in capsules and bars. In a 2018 publication of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers conducted 28 clinical trials and discovered that people who consumed 10 gm of psyllium husk every day for three weeks had a 13 mg/dL LDL cholesterol reduction (as measured by blood tests).
4 — They snack on walnuts and avoid doughnuts.
Fats are required in a healthy diet, however a particular type of fat called a trans-fatty acid is bad for your cholesterol levels. Trans-fatty acids found in prepackaged and highly processed meals such as cookies, fried foods, pastries, crackers, and other baked goods that are made to last on the shelf increase total and LDL cholesterol levels while lowering good HDL levels, explained Alyssa Burnison, a registered dietitian.
By contrast, walnuts are high in a heart-healthy plant-based form of omega-3 fatty acids that have been found to lower both total cholesterol and triglycerides, according to Dr. Gorman. They’re ideal for munching during times of hunger. Just be aware that nuts are calorie dense.