There is good evidence that following a heart-healthy diet can improve your blood cholesterol and heart health. A heart-healthy diet means more than just limiting junk foods and adding more nutritious ones, it also means eating plenty of fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and fiber-rich foods and Omega-3 fatty acids. As you eat them, you will be fueling your body with what it needs to stay healthy and possibly improve your overall health, which will actually impact in lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels.
Soluble Fiber: Eat a food with soluble fiber twice a day, such as oatmeal, beans, barley, prunes, citrus fruits, apples, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, apricots, etc. You need 18-grams of soluble fiber a day. To start, eat more beans, such as lentils and chickpeas and add psyllium or oat bran to smoothies. Psyllium, a natural grain from India, is rich in soluble fiber. You can also go for fiber supplements made from psyllium husk.
Soy Protein: It is found in soy products, such as tofu, soy cheese, soy milk, soy nuts, soy protein bars, and soy protein shakes. You need 1–2 ounces of soy protein a day to lower LDL cholesterol levels by about 12%. Soy may have other health benefits as well.
Plant Sterols and Stanol Esters: Plant sterols and stanol esters sound exotic, but they are available in certain margarines and supplements. Though they are more expensive than traditional spreads, you need 2 grams a day to lower your LDL levels by up to 14%.
Health Nuts: A nut-filled diet may help lower your cholesterol and your risk for heart disease, but it takes quite a lot of nuts to have an impact. You may need a handful – about 20 raw almonds a day. It means a lot of calories. But you can snack on them between meals or add them to salads and yogurt. Eating nuts also lowers the risk of death from diabetes, infections, and lung disease.
There are several other foods as well that may help. Take for example of garlic, which has, though, had mixed results in clinical trials. And although none of these foods will boost HDL (good) cholesterol levels, one liquid food will do just that. It’s alcohol – but like cholesterol-lowering drugs, it can have major side effects. So, think over the risks and benefits of alcohol, and if you choose to drink, do so responsibly and keep your dose low. For men, that means 1–2 drinks a week.
Start Small & Have a Plan:
Changing old habits may not be easy, but it’s very important to help you live a healthier and longer life. Having a heart-healthy diet plan can help. Start with small steps. Commit to adding one fruit or one vegetable a day per week and take a short walk instead of having dessert.