When you hear the word cholesterol, you probably think of your arteries and how they can clog up if you don’t keep your cholesterol levels in check. But what is cholesterol exactly?
Cholesterol is a type of fat that helps carry the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K throughout your body. It also helps make many hormones including estrogen and testosterone.
It’s found in all animal products like meat, eggs, milk and butter. It’s also found in plants like avocados and nuts.
The problem with eating too much cholesterol is that it can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease which can lead to stroke or heart attack. Because of this it’s important to limit how much cholesterol you eat each day by focusing on foods that have less than 2 grams per serving.
Food With Cholesterol Free
Changing what foods you eat can lower your cholesterol and improve the armada of fats floating through your bloodstream. Adding foods that lower LDL, the harmful cholesterol-carrying particle that contributes to artery-clogging atherosclerosis, is the best way to achieve a low cholesterol diet.
Add these foods to lower LDL cholesterol
Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.
1. Oats. An easy first step to lowering your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber. (The average American gets about half that amount.)
2. Barley and other whole grains. Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.
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3. Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices — from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond — and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food.
4. Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.
5. Nuts. A bushel of studies shows that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.
6. Vegetable oils. Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or at the table helps lower LDL.
7. Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.
8. Foods fortified with sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols extracted from plants gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate. They’re also available as supplements. Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.
9. Soy. Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once touted as a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Analyses show that the effect is more modest — consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day (10 ounces of tofu or 2 1/2 cups of soy milk) can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.
10. Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.
11. Fiber supplements. Supplements offer the least appealing way to get soluble fiber. Two teaspoons a day of psyllium, which is found in Metamucil and other bulk-forming laxatives, provide about 4 grams of soluble fiber.
Putting together a low cholesterol diet
When it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.
A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The key dietary components are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants. Add margarine enriched with plant sterols; oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber; soy protein; and whole almonds.
Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin. It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors. But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.
Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental health.
what reduces cholesterol quickly
Tactics To Reduce Cholesterol Quickly
For most of us, there’s really no need to pack our medicine cabinets with pills to reduce cholesterol levels. Natural, lifestyle-based strategies have proven extraordinarily effective in reducing cholesterol quickly and permanently.
Get the top 5 food and fitness tips recommended by the doctors, dietitians, exercise experts, and other faculty at the Pritikin Longevity Center. Pritikin has been helping people lower cholesterol levels since 1975.
Did you know that for every 10% drop in your cholesterol level, your heart attack risk drops by 20% to 30%? There’s more good news: Most of us can reduce cholesterol quickly, and without the need for medications. Simple lifestyle strategies can be very powerful.
That’s what several studies on thousands following the Pritikin Program of diet and exercise have found. Within three weeks, people were able to lower their cholesterol levels on average 23%, which translates into a 46% to 69% drop in heart attack risk.1
How To Reduce Cholesterol Quickly
The 5 key lifestyle-change tactics discussed in greater detail below are taught by the physicians, registered dietitians, exercise physiologists, and other faculty at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami for fast, significant lowering of cholesterol levels, particularly LDL bad cholesterol.
- Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beansWe don’t have to become complete vegetarians to get our cholesterol levels into healthy ranges, studies on the Pritikin Program have found, but clearly, the more vegetables, fruits, potatoes, and other naturally-fiber-rich plant foods we eat, the healthier we’ll be. Read More
- Be mindful of fat intakeLearn about the fats you should avoid, and the “good” fats you should limit.
- Eat more plant sources of proteinLearn about excellent plant proteins that, rather than raising blood cholesterol levels, as animal sources of protein do, actually help lower cholesterol.
- Eat fewer refined grains, such as white flourIn this section you’ll learn why whole grains are a better choice the refined grains.You’ll also be introduced to a whole new world of flavors with whole grains like whole-wheat couscous, polenta (cornmeal), quinoa, wild rice, and kasha.
- Get movingLearn about a simple and practical plan that’s easy to weave into daily life.
If you’re serious about lowering your cholesterol and taking good care of your heart, these 5 tactics are a great place to start. They’ll also help you shed excess weight, which will also improve heart health.
Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans
Our typical American diet is now abbreviated as SAD (Standard American Diet) by scientists nationwide because it’s full of foods that do sad things to both hearts and waistlines. Hyperprocessed foods like potato chips and French fries. Sugar-saturated drinks. And fatty, artery-clogging meats and full-fat dairy foods like cheese.
We don’t have to become complete vegetarians to get our cholesterol levels into healthy ranges, studies on the Pritikin Program have found, but clearly, the more vegetables, fruits, potatoes, and other naturally-fiber-rich plant foods we eat, the healthier we’ll be.
Plant foods high in soluble fiber are especially beneficial in lowering total and LDL bad cholesterol levels. Good sources include beans (pinto beans, black beans, etc), yams, oats (yes, eat your oatmeal!), barley, and berries.
For simple tips on bringing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans into your life, here is a 5-day sample healthy meal plan from the doctors and dietitians at Pritikin Longevity Center. Learn About the Pritikin Eating Plan
Be Mindful of Fat Intake
Eat far fewer of the following fats…
- Saturated fatsFoods with a lot of heart-damaging saturated fat include butter, meat, palm oil, coconut oil, and full-fat and low-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, low-fat milk, cheese, and cream.
- Trans fatsIf you see partially hydrogenated fat in the Ingredient List of a food label, that food has trans fats, which not only raise bad LDL cholesterol, they also lower good HDL cholesterol.
- Dietary cholesterolTop sources of dietary cholesterol include egg yolks, organ meats, and shellfish.
One type of fat – omega-3 fatty acids – has been shown to protect against heart disease. Excellent sources are cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, halibut, trout, herring, and sardines.
But do keep in mind that limiting fat intake, even so-called “good” fats like omega-3 fat or Mediterranean-style fats like olive oil, is a good idea because any fat is dense with calories, which means heavy consumption can easily lead to a heavy body. That’s bad news not just for our weight but our hearts because being overweight adversely affects blood cholesterol levels.
Excess weight is linked not just to heart disease but to a staggering list of other woes, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gout, dementia, and many cancers. Can One Fatty Meal Increase Your Risk of a Heart Attack?
Eat More Plant Sources of Protein
Excellent plant proteins include beans – all beans, like lentils, red beans, pinto beans, and soybeans. Rather than raising blood cholesterol levels, as animal sources of protein do, beans actually help lower cholesterol.
Beans also help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, and may even lower cancer risk.
When choosing products made from soybeans, stick to:
- Soybeans(available in most grocery store freezer sections, often described as edamame)
- Soymilkvanilla, original, or unsweetened
- Tofu(unflavored/unmarinated – found in refrigerator cases)
All the above are great choices for your cholesterol profile and overall health. Beans Vs Meat | Calories, Protein, Fiber, and Weight Loss
Eat Fewer Refined Grains, Such as White Flour
We’re a nation of “white food” eaters – white bread, white rice, white pasta, and white-flour foods like muffins, croissants, bagels, crackers, dried cereals, tortillas, pretzels, and chips. Yes, more than half of many Americans’ typical diets are made up of hyperprocessed refined white flour, often injected with sugar, salt, and/or fat.
That’s a real problem in part because the more white, or refined, grains we eat, the fewer whole grains we tend to take in. Research has found that eating whole grains can help lower both total and LDL cholesterol, and improve heart health.
In Harvard University’s Nurses’ Health Study, for example, women who ate two to three servings of whole-grain products (mostly bread and breakfast cereals) each day were 30% less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease over a 10-year period than women who ate less than one serving of whole grains per week.2
When first starting to make the switch from refined to whole grains, many people often feel a bit confused. Where to begin? What’s whole? What isn’t?
The registered dietitians at the Pritikin Longevity Center start with one very simple rule. When looking at products like breads and cereals, they recommend turning the package around and making sure the first word in the Ingredient List is “whole.” If you see the word “whole” at the top of the list, it’s a good bet that what you’re buying is in fact 100% whole grain, or close to it.
Another tip for getting more whole grains in your life comes from the chefs at Pritikin, who teach healthy cooking classes every day at the Center. “Expand your culinary horizons. There are many delicious whole-grain choices in just about every grocery store. Get beyond brown rice!” encourages Executive Chef Vincenzo Della Polla.
“Introduce yourself to a whole new world of flavors with whole grains like whole-wheat couscous, polenta (cornmeal), quinoa, wild rice, and kasha.”
The really good news is that many whole grains are surprisingly quick and easy to prepare. Often, all you need is a pot of hot water and a little stirring action.
Here, from Chef Vincenzo Della Polla, is a simple and savory recipe for whole-wheat couscous. Enjoy it for lunch, as a side dish, or as a hearty snack any time of day.
- Course Salad, Side Dish, Vegetarian
- Cuisine International, Vegan, Vegetarian
- 1/2 red onion chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano dried
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup couscous (whole wheat)
Servings: Units:MetricUS ImperialInstructions
- Lightly mist a medium nonstick saucepan with canola oil spray and pre-heat over medium-high heat.
- Add onions to pan and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, garlic, oregano, black pepper, and water to pan, and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat and simmer until tomatoes begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place couscous in medium mixing bowl.
- Remove tomato mixture from heat and immediately pour over couscous. Cover and let stand 5 to 8 minutes, until couscous is tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir with fork to fluff before serving.
Regular exercise may only slightly lower your total and LDL cholesterol levels, but it often does a very good job, in combination with a healthy eating plan like Pritikin, of helping you shed excess weight, which can dramatically improve your cholesterol profile.
Just getting out for a 30-minute walk most days of the week is a great start, but for optimal health and protection from cardiovascular disease, the exercise physiologists at the Pritikin Longevity Center coach people in three key forms of exercise: