High cholesterol is considered the prime risk factor under human control as far as reducing the chances of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack, and coronary heart disease. Cholesterol comes in two forms—HDL (or good) cholesterol and LDL (or bad) cholesterol. As it travels through the bloodstream this waxy substance made up of triglycerides is usually safely eliminated from the body. However, when levels of LDL (low density lipoproteins and triglycerides) become too high, the risk of heart disease becomes higher as well.
While additional risk factors for high blood cholesterol and heart disease include smoking, obesity, a history of diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, and family history of increased cholesterol, diet also plays a large role in development. Here’s a few snacking tips to help you lower high cholesterol:
1. Citrus fruits
Oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes, and grapefruit all have something in common. They not only taste like summer; they also help lower high cholesterol naturally. Citrus fruits contain plentiful amounts of a soluble fiber known as pectin, which Harvard researchers claim naturally lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream.
2. Bean dip
Beans may have a gassy reputation, but these legumes are truly one of the most versatile foods on the planet. First off beans make a great snack for those trying to shed a few pounds because they contain loads of soluble fiber, which literally slows the digestive process and satiates appetite for much longer between meals. So whip up a bean dip when you’re watching the game or a bean salad the next time you have friends over for a BBQ. You can combine an array of beans (i.e., black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, chickpeas, lentils, and more).
If you’re nuts for…well, nuts (and don’t have an allergy) you’re in luck. A secret ally in fighting bad LDL cholesterol levels can be found in plant sterols, and one of the best sources of sterols can be found in nuts of most types. So the next time you’re feeling peckish between meals snack on a handful of nuts and seeds (i.e., almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and pumpkin seeds.
Oat bran or oatmeal, whatever you want to call this amazing cholesterol fighting superfood is fine. Just know that oats are not only a great source of soluble (slow digesting) fiber—they also serve up a bounty of plant stanols, which absorb cholesterol from food so it’s eliminated efficiently from your bloodstream. Oats aren’t just a breakfast food, you can substitute them in almost any bread, cookies, granola bars, cereal, or muffin recipe for a whole serving of fibrous goodness.
5. Medications and diet
Studies show that when cholesterol friendly foods are used in conjunction with cholesterol lowering medications (i.e., Repathacan, Praluent, and Lipitor) patients often experience significantly reduced levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol as well as reduce their overall risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack.