The answer to the question, “How to lower cholesterol?” greatly depends upon one’s diet. Lifestyle changes, including diet and eating habits make it easier. Most of us know that cholesterol patients shouldn’t consume hydrogenated vegetable oil (Known as ‘Dalda’ in most Indian homes.), butter, coconut oil, regular dairy products (Low-fat is fine.), fatty meats (Red meat that is not lean, bacon and sausages. Avoiding liver and kidney is wise too.) and so on, but are there any foods that help reduce cholesterol? Of course there are, and this is a list of them!
NUTS – Patients with high cholesterol/ triglycerides make the mistake of thinking that a low-fat diet is good for them, while a diet moderate in fats, the fats being cardiac-friendly unsaturated, may be twice as good. Nuts are an excellent source of these monounsaturated fats.
They are also rich in Vitamin E, and the dietary minerals, magnesium, potassium, & copper, all that play a vital role in cardiac-health. Nuts also come with the goodness of plant sterols, which are natural fatty substances, occurring in plants (all plants for that matter), similar in structure to cholesterol, but interestingly, help in controlling cholesterol levels.
While most nuts, including, almonds, cashew nuts and hazelnuts are good, walnuts are particularly beneficial for cardiovascular health, with their polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. However, moderation is the key. Don’t forget that nuts are high in calories.
OATMEAL/ OATS, BEANS, FRUITS & VEGETABLES – Of all the whole grains, oats have the highest amount of soluble fibre. The name of this soluble fibre, found in cell walls, is beta glucan. This cholesterol-reducing soluble fibre forms a gel when brought in contact with water, binding the cholesterol in intestines, and preventing it from being absorbed. This also reduces the risk of heart disease.
Soluble fibre is also found in barley (Jau), red kidney beans (Rajma), pinto beans (Chitri-wale rajma), chickpeas (Kabuli chana), and fruits & vegetables. Particularly good are apples, pears, brinjal (Aubergine) and lady’s finger. (Okra)
Apples are so effective as cholesterol lowering foods that they are as good as oats. They contain polyphenols, which, simply speaking, are a type of antioxidant. These prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (Bad cholesterol), precisely what causes fat buildup in arteries.