High levels of the so-called “bad” cholesterol in combination with low levels of the known “good” cholesterol do nothing but harm your health. These are the roots of the increased risk of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.
So how are you supposed to prevent that from happening? Perhaps by boosting your “good” cholesterol levels? But how exactly are you to do that?
Keep reading to find out about some delicious foods that will help you in your mission against high “bad” and low “good” cholesterol levels!
Things you need to know about cholesterol
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Cholesterol is a type of lipid, found in every cell in the body with numerous important body functions such as generating Vitamin D, digesting food, and producing different hormones.
Cholesterol is both produced in the body, but also consumed through food.
There are two types of cholesterol:
- HDL (High-density lipoprotein), also known as “good” cholesterol, which helps return the LDL cholesterol back in the liver so that it could be properly eliminated from the body. By doing so, HDL helps prevent cholesterol plaque from being build up inside the arteries. HDL cholesterol lowers the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol mean a lower risk of these common health issues and a better health condition. Optimally, the HDL levels should be 60 mg/dL or higher. Lower levels of HDL increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- LDL (Low-density lipoprotein), also known as “bad” cholesterol, which carries cholesterol inside the arteries, and building up cholesterol plaque. This increases the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Higher levels of LDL increase the risk of these potential health issues, which is of essential importance for its levels to remain as low as possible. LDL levels should be maintained under 100 mg/dL at all times, except for individuals who have no underlying health issues among which the LDL levels are accepted to be between 100 to 120 mg/dL.
List of foods to boost your HDL cholesterol
It is important to keep our HDL cholesterol levels high as compared with our LDL cholesterol levels that need to be kept low if we would like to maintain healthily. This is especially important for individuals who have a family history of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke, or those who are struggling with other health issues that are compromising their cardiovascular and brain health. In the following, you will discover a list of foods that will help you boost your HDL cholesterol levels, and with that, improve your cardiovascular health.
Olive oil is one of the healthiest fats found on Earth. It is delicious, and heart-friendly, being able to reduce the risk of a heart attack. In addition, it has been scientifically proven that olive oil is able to boost the HDL cholesterol levels, while in the same time reducing any present inflammation and lowering the high LDL cholesterol levels due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities.
Whole grains are known to be rich in fiber and B vitamins, especially niacin. Not only will the whole grains keep your hunger satisfied on the longer run, but niacin has been proven to be able to boost the HDL cholesterol levels while reducing the LDL cholesterol levels and improving your heart health.
Fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon, sardines, rainbow trout, etc. should be used for the purposes of reducing your LDL cholesterol levels and boosting your HDL cholesterol levels, thanks to the fact that they are rich in helpful Omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, the fish protein found in the fatty fish has been suggested to serve as a beneficial treatment method against high LDL cholesterol levels.
Choose from the variety of nuts to gain their heart-healthy fats that will help you improve your heart health. They are easily incorporated into every meal, plus they are a great snack that will replace the usual snacks of your choosing such as chocolate and potato chips that do nothing but harm your health.
Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil is yet another great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. They are, in fact, suggested to be one of the best plant-based sources of Omega-3, which is why you should not miss out on the opportunity to incorporate them more in your diet. Just add a bit flaxseeds to your Greek yogurt, oatmeal, salads, and dips, to improve their taste and their nutritional value.
The monosaturated fats, fiber, and potassium found in avocado will definitely help you in your fight against LDL cholesterol levels. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has confirmed the use of avocado as a method to lower high LDL cholesterol and improve HDL cholesterol levels.
Chia seeds, along with flaxseeds, are a great plant-based source of Omega-3 fatty acids. That is why this list could not be complete without the mentioning of the beneficial chia seeds. Apart from Omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are rich in fiber, protein, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, etc.
There is countless research that suggests that the daily use of oats has reduced the LDL cholesterol levels, and total cholesterol levels, without reducing your HDL cholesterol levels in return. With their minimal amounts of sugar and high fiber levels, oatmeal deserves its place on your weekly breakfast menu for sure.
Apart from adding more of these foods to your regular diet, other effective methods that will help you increase your HDL cholesterol levels and reduce the LDL cholesterol levels include quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and losing the excess body weight. These methods will help you to improve your overall health and lifestyle, reducing the many health risks that could be potentially life-threatening.
As you can see, there are many foods that are both healthy and delicious, and most importantly – they can help you reduce your “bad” cholesterol levels while boosting your “good” cholesterol levels. Enjoy in their great taste and many health benefits that foods such as fatty fish, oats, whole grains, olive oil, and chia seeds have to offer.
Becky believes having good health, listening to your body and being happy is one of the most beautiful gifts. True health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other.