Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found naturally within our bodies. Some cholesterol is also produced from certain foods such as eggs, meat, and dairy products. Too much cholesterol can build up in our blood and cause health problems.
High levels of bad LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. The good HDL cholesterol helps remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream, keeping the level of LDL low. High cholesterol levels are often caused by obesity, diabetes, high sugar intake, lack of exercise, poor nutrition habits, stress, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
In recent years, scientists have discovered other sources of cholesterol that are linked to cardiovascular diseases. This has led us to discover some of the top superfoods rich in essential nutrients that help lower cholesterol levels. These include avocados, almonds, tomatoes, dark chocolate, and fish.
While these foods aren’t likely to replace your regular meals, they can add variety to your plate as well as provide great nutritional value. Here are five superfoods that can decrease your cholesterol levels.
5 Super Foods to Get Rid of Cholesterol
Avocados contain healthy fats called monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which are useful for lowering cholesterol. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate avocado every day had significantly lowered their total cholesterol and LDL levels when compared with those who didn’t eat the fruit.
Avocados are available year-round but peak during the summer and fall months. To enjoy this nutritious food at any time of the year simply cut it open lengthwise and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Add lemon juice to make it extra tasty. You could even use it as a topping on salads or sandwiches.
Almonds are packed full of magnesium, protein, phosphorus, potassium, fiber, vitamin C and folic acid. They are also one of the best plant-based sources of omega 3 – the polyunsaturated fats that may reduce inflammation and prevent cancer. Almonds are available throughout the year but they do tend to be slightly more expensive than most other nuts. Simply toast them in the oven or pan-fry them until golden brown before eating. Try adding them to smoothies for a delicious treat.
Tomatoes are another vegetable packed full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Tomatoes are famous for being part of the traditional diet of Italians. People living near the Mediterranean Sea typically consume about 2 ½ cups of tomato paste per week. It contains lycopene, an antioxidant found only in plants.
Lycopene is believed to protect against prostate cancer and reduce the chance of getting breast, colon, and lung cancers. Tomatoes should also be considered part of a balanced diet as they are high in calories. If you don’t like cooking try adding chopped tomatoes to pasta dishes, sauces, and salad dressings.
4. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate isn’t just for Valentine’s Day anymore. Scientists have recently discovered that cocoa beans contain compounds that may help lower cholesterol. Researchers at Harvard University studied over 6,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 64. Those who consumed 1 ounce of dark chocolate daily had a 9 percent drop in cardiovascular deaths. Many studies also suggest that consuming dark chocolate daily can increase energy levels, improve mood and boost brain function.
Fish is packed with essential nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are known to help regulate blood pressure and keep arteries flexible. Eating small portions of oily fish several times each week can help maintain normal cholesterol levels and fight off heart attacks. Sardines, mackerel, and salmon are all excellent options because they contain less mercury and other toxins than larger fish.