Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance produced in the liver and is also found in certain foods that come from animals including dairy products and meat. Some cholesterol is needed by the body to function properly but too much cholesterol can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Since cholesterol can't dissolve in the bloods, transport proteins called lipoproteins and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) carry it where it needs to be. Over time, the LDL cholesterol particles can lead to plaque growth made of cholesterol, cells and debris that block the walls of arteries. This blockage causes heart disease and can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. Here are some heart healthy foods that you can add to your diet that will help lower your cholesterol:
1. Black Beans:
Black beans are high in folate, antioxidants, magnesium, and fiber. These are heart-healthy nutrients that help to control cholesterol. Mild, tender black beans make a great addition to soups and salads. Canned black beans should be rinsed off first to remove the excess salt.
2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is especially rich in heart-healthy antioxidants and is made from the first press of olives. It contains antioxidants, healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants called polyphenols that protect blood vessels.. You can lower your cholesterol by substituting butter with olive oil instead. The cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is great for salads or cooked vegetables.
Walnuts by the handful, about 1.5 ounces a day, can help lower cholesterol and also to reduce inflammation of the heart's arteries. Replacing bad fats such as chips and cookies with omega-3s, monounsaturated fats, and fiber, walnuts can benefit the body. At just 300 calories per handful walnuts are great for use in salads.
Almonds are a nice addition to many foods, including vegetables, fish, chicken or desserts and are great for heart health. Aside from being rich in heart-healthy fats, almonds contain plant sterols and fiber. Toasting almonds enhances their creamy, mild flavor.
Edamame are green soybeans packed with soy protein, which help to lower blood triglyceride levels. One half cup of edamame contains 9 grams of cholesterol-lowering fiber, equivalent to four slices of whole wheat bread.
Oranges contain pectin, the cholesterol-fighting fiber, and is also a good form of potassium, which helps control blood pressure. Orange juice contains an antioxidant called hesperidin, which may improve blood vessel function and modestly lower blood pressure. One medium orange contains an average of 62 calories, and 3 grams of fiber.
Carrots are one of the top cholesterol-fighting foods, as they contain large amounts of soluble fiber, the kind found in oats. Shredded carrots in spaghetti sauce or muffin batter are great ways get additional carrots into your diet.
All forms of oats help your heart by lowering the bad cholesterol known as LDL. Oatmeal is also good for people who have diabetes, as it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. A warm bowl of oatmeal keeps you feeling full for hours to reduce the urge to snack. Oatmeal is a great substitution for bread crumbs and can substitute one-third of the flour used when making pancakes or muffins.
This whole grain packed with fiber can help lower cholesterol levels, hulled or "whole grain" barley contains are more nutritious. It can be used in place of rice with dinner or can be added to soups and stews. Barley grits are toasted and ground, making it great for cereal.
Flaxseed contains three key heart-healthy ingredients which are fiber, phytochemicals called lignans, and also alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. The body converts ALA into the more powerful omega-3s acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).