Scientists are learning ever more about how cholesterol functions within the human body. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you’re probably evaluating your diet and attempting to make adjustments. All too often, those adjustments involve avoiding foods you enjoy.
There is a different way to approach changing your diet. Learning what foods you should eat and focusing on adding them to your diet may be a better path to making the changes that will result in better health.
Putting some variety in your diet is important as well, for several reasons. If you’ve found a few heart-healthy foods that you like and you eat them day-in and day-out, you’re likely to get burned out. Also, consuming a wider range of foods helps you consume more nutrients and is healthier.
Not all dietary fat is created equal. The fat that’s in butter or lard is likely to raise your cholesterol, whereas the fat in other types of oils may actually help lower it. Here are a few healthy oils worth incorporating into your diet:
- Olive oil
- Avocado oil
- Vegetable oil, such as sunflower, safflower, and canola
- Nut oils, such as almond or pecan
Use these oils for cooking, in salad dressings, and in recipes that call for butter, margarine, or lard. You may even find a new favorite!
You should consume 20-35 grams of fiber each day, and 5-10 grams should come from soluble fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. The fiber binds to the cholesterol and helps remove it from your body before it can enter your circulatory system.
Oats or oat-based cereals add soluble fiber to your diet, and they’re versatile and delicious. Different types of oats have textures and flavors that may surprise you if all you’ve ever eaten are quick-cooking oats. Plus, there are numerous ways to prepare oats, typically a breakfast food, from baking them to putting them in a slow cooker.
If the first thing you think of when it comes to grains is wheat, you may want to expand your repertoire. Barley, oat bran, quinoa, and many other grains are flavorful and interesting additions to a healthy, balanced diet. Plus, they add a significant amount of soluble fiber.
Beans are another versatile and rich source of soluble fiber, as well as a good source of protein. There are so many kinds of beans — available canned or dried — that you’re all but assured of finding one or more that you enjoy and that fit into your meals.
In addition to soluble fiber, you may want to consider adding foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. These unsaturated fatty acids reduce your triglycerides, help lower blood pressure, and make it less likely you’ll develop a blood clot. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in many kinds of fish, including:
Nuts and seeds can also be a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Tree nuts such as walnuts and almonds have also been shown to improve blood cholesterol.
If you’re looking for ways to lower your cholesterol through dietary changes, book an appointment online or by phone for a consultation with one of the experts at Westmed Family Healthcare. Advice and input from a health care professional tailored to your specific needs can be invaluable as you work to improve your health.