Cardiovascular disease is the world’s most common chronic illness and cause of death. Approximately 92.1 million people in the United States have at least one form of heart disease, including a history of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), heart attacks, or stroke. Most blood vessel and heart diseases are caused by a build-up of waxy, fat-like material called cholesterol. High total cholesterol and/or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels narrow the pathway for blood to travel from the heart, raising the risk of high blood pressure levels, heart valve issues, chest pain, and other ailments. High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for CVD, including atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), which is a specific form of CVD.
According to some studies, approximately one in six people is susceptible to having high cholesterol levels due to a hereditary disease called “familial hypercholesterolemia.” However, by practicing the following five healthy eating habits on a daily basis, most individuals may control their cholesterol levels.
1 — Eat a low-sodium plant-based proteins.
Protein does not solely imply animal flesh, poultry, or fish. It also refers to getting a lot of plant proteins such as beans and lentils, soy and split pea soup, black-eyed peas or split peas, unsalted nuts and seeds with meals and snacks. The majority of us should aim for half or more of our protein sources to come from plants, and the majority of that amount should be produced as little as feasible. Consider switching out your next burger for a vegetarian lentil patty rather than a “beef-like” meat imitation, or nutritional yeast for non-dairy “cheese shreds.”
2 — Make at least half of your grain consumption be whole grain.
Whole grains exist in all three parts of the grain kernel: endosperm, bran, and germ. These layers of grains offer a variety of nutrients to our diets. Refined grains have removed at least one layer of these components in processing, and they are very likely only comprised of the starchy endosperm layer. Fortunately, there are healthy whole grain alternatives like oatmeal, whole grain spaghetti, whole wheat bread, quinoa, and brown rice that are excellent stand-ins for refined options that may be eaten. Whole grain diets are linked to better controlled cholesterol levels and grains like barley and oats include soluble fiber to help reduce total cholesterol levels.
3 — Eat healthy fats.
Although cholesterol is a fat-like substance, we still need to consume fats in our diets! Choosing the proper sorts of fat, on the other hand, must take precedence. A greater proportion of beneficial unsaturated fat sources like nuts and nut butter, canola oil, seeds, olive oil, and avocado instead of detrimental saturated fat sources such as tropical oils (palm oil, coconut oil, etc.), hydrogenated oils, or high-fat dairy and meat has been shown in studies to result in better cholesterol results.
4 — Increase variety of vegetable and fruit intake.
Hopefully, it’s no news that eating fruits and vegetables is good for us. To minimize blood cholesterol, most people should consume at least three servings of fruit and vegetables each day, and the objective is for us to eat a variety of fruits and veggies to reach this goal.
Fresh fruit is frequently consumed, because it is sweet and can be used as a tasty snack or simply added to a dessert. Vegetables might be more difficult. Try adding more vegetables to foods you already enjoy in order to get them more often. Experiment with adding broccoli to your mac and cheese or topping your usual sandwich with extra lettuce, tomato, onion, and cucumber.
5 — Drink beverages that are unsweetened.
Sweetened (and caffeinated!) beverages are frequently useful as a pick-me-up during the day. Excess added sugar, on the other hand, might contribute to increased cholesterol levels. Water should be our first beverage of choice; however, other flavorful and healthy drink options include tea, flavored seltzer waters or coffee that is unsweetened or sweetened with a sugar substitute, 100% juices and unsweetened smoothies made from fruits such as berries or melon pieces.