Cholesterol is a necessary molecule for cellular health; it fortifies cell walls and facilitates energy exchange. Humans have two kinds of cholesterol in their bloodstream, HDL (high density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein), and we need both. But overconsumption of saturated fats increases LDL (the so-called bad cholesterol) to unhealthy levels. Excess LDL cholesterol gets stored in arterial walls, where it builds up (this is plaque), narrowing the arteries and putting added strain on the heart. Atherosclerosis, the clogging of arteries, is a leading cause of death worldwide. Diet, exercise, and genetics all have a hand in your cholesterol profile. Eating certain superfoods can drastically lower your cholesterol.
Cherries contain anthocyanins, an antioxidant that works to reduce arterial plaque. It’s also what gives cherries their bright red color. Certain plant foods, like cherries, are high in fiber, a material that lowers LDL cholesterol. Fiber is broken down very slowly in the digestive system, so its energy is released slowly into the bloodstream (unlike sugar), and not so much gets stored as fat for later use.
Guggulipid is both food and medicine, and has been used in Ayurvedic healing for many centuries. It’s made from the gum resin of the mukul myrrh tree, and clinical trials in India have found that guggulipid greatly reduces both the total cholesterol load and LDL cholesterol levels. Herbal remedies, unlike factory created pharmaceuticals, carry few and minor side effects. You can buy it on Amazon very cheaply – click here to read customer reviews.
3. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard contains vitamin E, a plant polyphenol, which stops free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol and stashing it in artery walls. Strongly detoxifying, chard clears lingering toxins out of the bloodstream. Dark leafy greens are also rich in fiber and folate, two other heart friendly components.
4. Whole grains
Whole grains are some of the strongest sources of soluble fiber, plant parts that block cholesterol absorption. Oats and barley contain a kind of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which is especially good at lowering LDL cholesterol. Oatmeal, barley bread, or oat bran added to yogurt make a filling and energizing breakfast. Cooked barley compliments salads, soups, or vegetable dishes.
Another excellent source of soluble fiber, beans contain heart-healthy phytochemicals called flavonoids. Flavonoids reduce the adhesion of blood platelets, which decreases the threat of heart attack and stroke. A half-cup of cooked lima beans has three and a half grams of soluble fiber, enough to lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol molecules and draws it out of the body as bile created in the liver. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that eating a half-cup of cooked pinto beans (i.e., two grams of soluble fiber) daily for 12 weeks reduced LDL cholesterol by about 7 percent.
6. Green tea
Green tea is truly a superfood; it reduces cholesterol levels and encourages weight loss. An analysis of fourteen studies of green tea found a cup taken daily reduces total cholesterol levels by 7.20 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol by 2.19 mg/dL. Green tea or green tea supplements provided the same benefits; matcha, dried powdered green tea, is another way to go.
Monounsaturated fats—like those in olive oil, avocado, flaxseeds, and nuts—lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol levels. Ingesting an ounce of any unsalted nuts daily for a month can lower LDL cholesterol by eight to twenty percent. An ounce works out to 23 almonds, two tablespoons of peanut butter, or 14 walnuts (grind them over salads and yogurt).
Soy is one of an elite group of plant foods; it’s a complete protein, offering as much nutrition as a serving of meat or dairy. Soy comes in a few forms: edamame, soy milk, and tofu. Another study in The Journal of Nutrition found that daily soy consumption, in place of fatty foods, lowers LDL cholesterol by 8 to 10 percent.
Psyllium is dried and ground mushrooms; this substance is great for cleaning out the digestive systems, which is why Metamucil is marketed as a laxative. Ingesting ten to twelve grams of psyllium powder in a glass of water daily may lower LDL cholesterol by 5 to 10 percent; this information comes from the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. After you ingest psyllium powder, remember to drink ample fluids for the rest of the day; without enough water, psyllium can cause constipation and cramping, because of its powerful plant fiber.
10. Dark chocolate
Another source of flavonoids, cocoa is a delicious way to lower LDL cholesterol. A survey of studies of dark chocolate published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found daily cocoa consumption reduced LDL cholesterol by more than 5 mg/dL for people at risk of heart disease. Only dark chocolate has the antioxidant flavonoids; look for products with at least 60% cocoa. Many chocolates are pumped with sugars and saturate fats, and this makes them both sweeter and less healthy; read the labels closely. Hot cocoa made with two tablespoons of natural cocoa powder is another healthy choice.
Lycopene is the antioxidant in tomatoes that gives them their red color. It serves the body by neutralizing free radicals, roaming toxins that can bring on cancer. And lycopene also reduces LDL cholesterol; ingesting 25 milligrams of lycopene can reduce the “bad” cholesterol by ten percent, according to a study in Maturitas. Besides eating raw tomatoes,
drinking a pint of tomatoes juice or cooking with 3.5 tablespoons of tomato paste will offer the same benefits. Adding a little olive oil to whichever method you choose helps the body absorb the lycopene.
Finally, there’s the pomegranate, one of the most striking red fruits on earth. Pomegranates are strong sources of polyphenols, including two big ones: anthocyanins (present in deep-red, blue, and purple fruits and vegetables) and tannins (found in red wine and teas). These polyphenols decrease plaque buildup on the artery walls—a glass of red wine a day also lowers cholesterol levels—and reduce blood pressure. Pomegranate is stronger than cranberry juice as a detoxifier.