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5 best foods for lowering cholesterol

5 best foods for lowering cholesterol Illustrative photo (Freepik)
Author: Maria Kholina

Although a balance of substances is necessary for healthy functioning, elevated cholesterol levels pose a threat to the body. That's why it's essential to monitor its levels, and one of the ways to do so is through diet rich in foods that can help lower cholesterol.

Sources used in preparing the material: Public Health Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, EatingWell.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a substance similar to fat, synthesized by the liver and also consumed through animal-derived food. Cholesterol is conventionally divided into two categories: "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoproteins, HDL) and "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoproteins, LDL).

What is the normal level of cholesterol?

There should be a certain balance of cholesterol for a healthy body. Elevated cholesterol levels can lead to stroke and heart attack, as well as the development of ischemic heart disease and atherosclerosis.

To calculate the total cholesterol level, you need to know the levels of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides (a common type of fat in the body). After that, calculate the total cholesterol level using this formula: 1/5 triglyceride level + LDL + HDL.

Normal cholesterol levels:

  • "Good" cholesterol: over 1 mmol/L;
  • "Bad" cholesterol: up to 3 mmol/L or up to 1.8 mmol/L for people at risk;
  • Total cholesterol: up to 5 mmol/L or up to 4 mmol/L for people at risk.

5 foods that are most effective in combating cholesterol

Pistachios

These small nuts can improve the breakdown of fatty acids in the body and contain vitamin E, antioxidants, and potassium, which can reduce inflammation and improve blood vessel function. Additionally, pistachios contain phytosterols - plant compounds that lower cholesterol levels.

An analysis conducted in 2021 showed that consuming pistachios for approximately 12 weeks lowers total cholesterol levels by 7 points and LDL cholesterol levels by 4 points, with a decrease in triglyceride levels also observed.

5 найкращих продуктів, які допомагають знизити рівень холестерину

Pistachios are a healthy snack (photo: Freepik)

Flaxseeds

According to a clinical trial conducted in 2022, adults with hypertension who consumed about an ounce of flaxseed daily for 12 weeks experienced a reduction in systolic blood pressure by 13 points. Moreover, the total cholesterol level in people who consumed flax decreased by more than 20 points.

5 найкращих продуктів, які допомагають знизити рівень холестерину

Flaxseed also helps to lower blood pressure (photo: Freepik)

Avocado

A 2018 analysis by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that consuming avocados increases HDL cholesterol levels, the good cholesterol that removes LDL from arteries. Avocado is also rich in fiber, plant sterols, and monounsaturated fats, which together combat cholesterol.

5 найкращих продуктів, які допомагають знизити рівень холестерину

Avocados are a source of nutrients (photo: Freepik)

Plant oils

Oils rich in antioxidants that control cholesterol levels and plant sterols that lower total and "bad" LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides.

Researchers also found that olive oil is the best at increasing "good" HDL cholesterol levels. Other studies have shown that regular consumption of olive oil helps improve HDL cholesterol function.

Fatty fish

People who eat a lot of fatty fish have better HDL cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and blood pressure and lower the risk of blood clots.

5 найкращих продуктів, які допомагають знизити рівень холестерину

Fatty fish reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (photo: Freepik)

However, keep in mind that besides changing your diet, it's important to lead an active lifestyle and not smoke, as these factors also affect cholesterol levels.