So you just got some not-so-great news from your doctor about your cholesterol levels, huh? Don’t worry; there’s no need to start popping medicines or making major life overhauls. The good news is that you can naturally lower your cholesterol by making simple and delicious diet changes.
Yes, you read that right – delicious. Contrary to popular belief, eating for heart health doesn’t require choking down bland foods. Some of the tastiest foods are also cholesterol-lowering powerhouses.
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Olive Oil: A Heart-Healthy Choice
Olive oil is one of the healthiest fats you can add to your diet. Use it for cooking, salad dressings, and dips. Olive oil is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that can help lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol when used in place of saturated fat.
Opt for extra virgin olive oil, which is less processed and contains more beneficial plant compounds. Even though it has a strong flavour, you only need a little. Mix it with a neutral-flavoured oil if you prefer a milder taste.
A few tablespoons a day can go a long way toward improving your cholesterol and heart health. So dip your bread in olive oil, toss your pasta, or make a homemade salad dressing. Your heart will thank you for it. Olive oil – it’s liquid gold for your kindness and health!
Oats: Your Heart’s Best Friend
Oats are one of the most heart-healthy grains. Their soluble fibre, beta-glucan, helps lower cholesterol by preventing your gut from absorbing it.
Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal. Cook 1/2 cup of rolled oats in 1 cup of water or milk and top it with fruit like bananas or berries, nuts like almonds, and a little honey for sweetness. This simple breakfast could help drop your total cholesterol by 5% or more in 6 weeks.
Oats also make a great addition to yoghurt or smoothies. Toss in a few tablespoons for an easy cholesterol-fighting snack. You can use oat flour instead of all-purpose flour in muffins, cookies, and bread.
With so many delicious ways to enjoy oats, there’s no reason not to make them a part of your daily diet. Your heart will thank you! Lowering high cholesterol and protecting your ticker is as easy as starting your day the heart-healthy way.
Onions: Simple Yet Powerful
Onions are inexpensive, versatile and packed with heart-healthy compounds—slice or dice onions to add flavour to your cooking without the salt.
Onions contain quercetin, a flavonoid that helps lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol and may help reduce blood pressure. Quercetin acts as an antioxidant, reducing inflammation in the body.
Cook onions to mellow their flavour and decrease bitterness. Sauté onions in a little olive oil or broth until soft and translucent. Add to pasta sauce, chilli, casseroles and stews. You’ll boost the nutritional value without changing the taste.
Raw onions have the most quercetin, so add thin slices to sandwiches, salads and dips like guacamole. Mince onions and sprinkle on as a garnish. The flavours mellow quickly, so raw onions are only briefly bitter.
Onions are a simple way to improve heart health through diet. Their potent compounds work hard to benefit your body, so include onions often in your weekly meal planning. A little goes a long way toward natural cholesterol control and better heart health.
Flaxseeds: Tiny Seeds, Big Benefits
Flaxseeds are small but mighty. Just one ounce of these nutty seeds contains 18 grams of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, also known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Omega-3s help reduce inflammation in the body and lower high cholesterol levels. Flaxseeds also contain lots of fibre, which can help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
Grind flaxseeds or buy a pre-ground flax meal for the best nutrition. Whole flaxseeds pass through the body undigested, so your body won’t absorb all the benefits. Add one to two tablespoons of flax meal to oatmeal, yoghurt, salads or smoothies. You can also use flax meal as a vegan egg substitute: Mix one tablespoon of flax meal with three tablespoons of water per egg in baking recipes.
For a simple snack, make flax crackers by mixing flax meal, water and spices, then baking in the oven until crisp. Flaxseeds have a mild nutty flavour and crunchy texture that pairs well with many foods. Add them to your diet and reap the rewards of a healthier heart and lower cholesterol. Every little bit helps!
Amla (Indian Gooseberries): Nature’s Gift
Amla, or Indian gooseberries, are small green fruits with vitamin C and other antioxidants. One amla contains up to 700% of your daily vitamin C needs! These tangy berries are known for lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation and supporting heart health.
Amla is considered a superfruit in Ayurvedic medicine. Studies show amla can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol. Its potent antioxidants fight free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Amla may also help lower high blood pressure and improve circulation, promoting cardiovascular wellness.
You can find amla in supplement form as a powder or extract. However, whole dried or fresh berries provide the most nutritional benefits. Add amla to chutneys, pickles, and curries, or enjoy a handful as a quick snack. Amla’s tart, citrusy flavour pairs well with spices like turmeric, coriander and chilli. This versatile superfruit deserves a spot in your cholesterol-lowering diet.
Green Tea: Sip Your Way to Health
Green tea is chock full of antioxidants that can improve your heart health and lower cholesterol. The main antioxidant in green tea is EGCG, a compound that can reduce inflammation in the body and prevent cell damage.
Drinking just one to two cups of green tea daily may help lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol and raise your HDL or “good” cholesterol. The flavonoids in green tea can prevent cholesterol from oxidizing and clogging your arteries.
Green tea can benefit your heart and cholesterol levels and aid in weight loss and blood sugar control when consumed regularly. So sip, savour and enjoy green tea’s delightful flavour and aroma – your heart will thank you!
So there you have it. Simple dietary changes can have a significant impact on your heart health. You don’t have to sacrifice taste to lower your cholesterol naturally. The foods you choose can be whole of flavour and still heart-friendly. All it takes is adding more good stuff like nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil and cutting back on the not-so-good things like red meat and full-fat dairy.
Your heart will thank you, and you’ll feel better too. A healthy heart and a happy belly – what could be better than that? Make one change this week and keep going from there. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to lowering your cholesterol and boosting your heart health, one delicious bite at a time.