People with high cholesterol may need medications to help lower cholesterol levels. But sometimes cholesterol levels can be controlled by diet (or a combination of diet, exercise and medications). Meredith Baum, R.D., Registered Dietitian with the Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, PA, offers some tips for lowering cholesterol through diet.
Choose Whole Grains.
Look for breads, cereals and other products made with whole grains. Baum says this is one of the easiest ways to lower cholesterol because it involves simple substitution (like a bran muffin instead of a blueberry muffin or whole grain bread for white bread).
Eat More Fiber
Fiber comes from plant-based foods. Baum explains there are two types of fiber.
Insoluble Fiber is the undigestible part of plant foods.
Solube Fiber forms a gel-like substance that keeps fats from being absorbed into the intestines, keeping the fats out of the bloodstream. Some examples for foods with high levels of soluble fiber include: citrus fruits, apples, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Limit Saturated Fats.
Saturated fats, mostly from animal-based foods, tend to raise cholesterol levels and should be eaten only in limited amounts. Instead, look for unsaturated fats, mostly vegetable oils, like canola oil and olive oil. Avoid trans fat, a processed fat made with hydrogenated oils and found in shortening and many kinds of solid margarine. Trans fats pack a double punch - they lower HDL levels and raise LDL levels.
Eat More Fish .
The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish every week. The best fish picks are those that contain omega-3 fatty acid, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. The highest sources of omega-3s are the fatty fish, like mackerel, salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna (fresh or canned), herring and sardines. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acid are walnuts, flaxseed, soybeans, soybean oil and canola oil.
Consider Using Planter Sterols Or Stanols.
Sterols and stanols are substances in certain foods that block absorption of cholesterol. Sterols and stanols are added to some orange juices, margarines and other foods. Although the products have no effect on HDL, they can help lower LDL. Research suggests these fortified foods can lower LDL levels by as much as 15 percent when used appropriately.