About 50% of adults have high cholesterol, which increases their risk of heart disease and stroke.
By eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, you can help to lower the level of cholesterol in your blood.
Here are 12 food, drinks and eating habits you can try out to lower your ‘bad’ i.e. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol level.
Rich in soluble fibre beta glucan, oatmeal can reduce your LDL by 12% to 24% if you eat a bowl of oats everyday, combined with other foods rich in soluble fibre such as beans and pulses.
Choose old fashioned (those that you need to cook) oats rather than instant oats.
May studies has found that eating one avocado a day as part of a healthy diet can lower your LDL cholesterol by as much as 17% and the same time, raising your HDL.
Some studies suggest that drinking two glasses of orange juice a day helps to cut total cholesterol, and a Canadian study found that drinking 3 glasses a day for 4 weeks raised healthy HDL level 21% and improved ratio of good to bad cholesterol by 16% !
Cutting back on simple carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice and eating more complex carbohydrates, including wholemeal bread, can increase HDL levels slightly and significantly lower triglycerides, another type of blood fat that contributes to heart disease.
Studies suggest that eating products enhanced with plant sterols and stanols-naturally occurring substances similar to cholesterol in terms of their chemical strucmre-may help to reduce levels of harmful LDL cholesterol.
Consuming around 2g of plant sterols/stanols can lower LDL levels by 10% to 15%, although the amount varies from one person to another.
So seek out sterol-enhanced margarines, yogurts and other milk products and eat some everyday.
A large study of British adults found that people who ate six or more small meals daily had significantly lower cholesterol than those who ate twice a day, even though the ‘grazers’ got more kilojoules and fat.
In fact, the differences in cholesterol levels were large enough to reduce thc grazers’ risk o£ heart disease by 10% to 20%.
Cranberries are rich sources of anthocyanins, proanthocyanidins and flavonols, plant chemicals that prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidising, a process that makes it more likely to stick to artery walls.
These chemicals also keep red blood cells from getting too sticky. Not only do they decrease LDL cholesterol level, but, according to one American studies, 3 glasses of cranberry juice per day can raise HDL cholesterol levels by up to 10%.
Oily fish such as mackerel, herring, tuna and salmon provide the richest source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, which help to reduce the level of triglyceride fats in your blood?
Note : High triglyceride levels lead to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
Eat a grapefruit (Citrus ×paradisi) everyday as this fruit from the citrus family contains high level of pectin, a soluble fibre that can help to reduce cholesterol levels.
But do note that grapefruits also interferes with the absorption and processing in the liver of several medicines – check with your doctors first if you are on medication, before comsuming grapefruits.
As an alternative, other good sources of pectin include apples and berries.
Pour soy milk over your cereal instead of dairy milk. A Spanish study of 40 men and women found that those drank around 2 cups of soy milk a day for 3 months reduced their LDL cholesterol levels while increasing their HDL levels. Do make sure that you buy soy milk fortified with calcium.
Scientists found that drinking 5 cups of black tea a day for 3 weeks reduced cholesterol levels in people with mildly high levels.
A daily glass of wine or beer can boost levels of HDL cholesterol. Opt for red wine as it is 3 to 10 times higher in plant compounds called flavonoids, believed to be responsible for much of wine’s beneficial effects on cholesterol.
Well, if you do not like red wine, you can there is always grape juice, which is also rich in cholesterol-lowering flavonoids.
Adopting healthy habits greatly helps in preventing your cholesterol from becoming high in the first place.