It’s well known that eating too much junk food can cause high cholesterol. Then logically, we should be able to reverse that trend simply be eating the right food: there’s usually no need to resort to medication.
“Changing your diet to reduce your cholesterol levels is the best plan of action,” says Naturopath and Nutritionist Claire Georgiou. “Medications can have long-term side effects while making long-term healthy lifestyle and dietary changes will reduce your cholesterol but will also improve your overall health, reduce your risk of cancer, reduce your risk of stroke, heart attacks and much more.”
“There are 2 main types of cholesterol,” says Georgioum “1.) LDL (low-density cholesterol) which is often called “bad” and 2.) HDL (high-density cholesterol) often called “good”. The bad cholesterol encourages fat in the blood stream while the good cholesterol removes excess LDL cholesterol and triglycerides from the bloodstream thus protecting our heart health.”
“The higher the LDL to HDL ratio the higher the risk for the development of atherosclerosis: [which is] the hardening and clogging of the arteries which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Tips to Help Lower Cholesterol
- Eat Colorful Fruits and Veggies: Fruits and vegetables help lower “bad” cholesterol levels. Look for garlic, onions, apples, pears, avocados, berries, cabbage and cabbage family, eggplant, and dark greens such as spinach and kale. ”Fruits and vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants that protect the circulating cholesterol from oxidizing which is when it becomes particularly harmful,” says Georgiou.
- Opt for phyto-sterol rich foods: These foods will bind with cholesterol help eliminate LDL cholesterol. Any kind of nuts, especially almonds, pistachios, walnuts & macadamias; seeds such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin, sesame and flaxseed, avocados; and cold-pressed oils such as flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and olive oil are all rich in phyto-sterols.
- Eat plenty of fiber: To get your daily quota of soluble fiber, try grains such as oats and barley, legumes such as beans and lentiles, psyllium husks, chia seeds, flaxseeds, peas, squash, carrots, cabbage family vegetables and fruits such as apple, strawberries, grapes and citrus fruits. If you prefer juice, that’s fine too: there is still fiber in freshly-squeezed juices.
- Increase essential fatty acids: Good cholesterol increases if we eat foods that are rich in essential fatty acids: oily fish, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds. For more information on essential fatty acids, check out good fats vs. bad fats.
- Lower your stress level: Stress is of course very detrimental to our overall health, and it’s been proven to make our bodies produce more cholesterol.
Staying stress-free and eating plenty of plant-based food is a good recipe not only for lowering cholesterol but also for maintaining excellent overall health.