You may not realize it right away, but eating excess amounts of certain foods can easily increase your cholesterol level.
Your body naturally makes the cholesterol it needs, but when you consume foods that contain high amounts of it, you risk the chance of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol building up in your arteries, which could trigger heart problems.
What you want to be eating are foods that lower LDL or boost high-density lipoproteins (HDL). If you aren't sure where to start, below are 10 foods that you can add to your diet to keep your cholesterol level in check and lower your risk of heart disease. Just remember to always consult a doctor beforehand.
The orange gourd tends to be overlooked as a superfood mainly because it is used in so many unhealthy recipes. However, pumpkin is very rich in fiber and antioxidants, both of which do wonders for your cholesterol level.
2. High pectin fruits
Apples, strawberries and citrus fruits contain high levels of pectin, a soluble fiber that's effective in reducing LDL.
Fiber-laden nuts like pistachios, almonds, peanuts and walnuts can help increase your good cholesterol (HDL), while lowering your LDL. Studies also show that these nuts protect your body from oxidative stress, which in turn improves your cardiac health.
4. Fatty Fish
According to the Harvard Health Publishing, eating omega-3-rich fish like sardines will boost your HDL while reducing triglycerides in the blood. They also protect the heart by preventing the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.
Not only are beans like chickpeas, lentils, navy and kidney beans great sources of protein, they also contain soluble fiber that will you have you feeling full longer so you don't overeat throughout the day.
6. Whole Grains
Similar to beans, whole grains like barley, buckwheat, bulgar, also contain cholesterol lowering soluble fibers. These grains are versatile and can be cooked in many different ways.
7. Sesame Oil
Similar to olive and avocado oil, sesame oil also has mono-saturated fats (MUFAs) that have a host of benefits to your overall heath, including lowering your cholesterol. However, you should always keep in mind that MUFAs are still fats and will add extra calories, so use them moderately.
8. Chia Seeds
There's a reason why chia seeds are super trendy right now. They are chock-full of omega-3, fiber, protein and anti-oxidants. Another great thing about chia seeds is that they are easy to add to your diet. Simply sprinkle them on your cereal, oatmeal, smoothie and even salad. You can also incorporate them in baked goods, soups and puddings.
Bananas are like erasers when it comes to cholesterol. They eliminate it from your digestive system before it starts to trickle into your bloodstream.
Eating foods like soybeans and its by-products, including tofu and soy milk, has been linked to lower cholesterol levels. Try to swap out some of your animal-based proteins with foods like edamame, which is high in fiber and protein. Consuming 25 grams of soy protein per day can lower your bad cholesterol by 5-6%.
Do you eat any of these foods regularly?