Back to The Great Cholesterol Challenge. I thought I'd leave it up to the National Cholesterol Education Program, The Mayo Clinic and for some Australian figures, The Heart and Diabetes Institute to explain what healthy cholesterol levels are. This is also a good thing to talk to your Doctor about because there are different reference ranges related to your risk of cardiovascular disease.
On to the exciting stuff, food. I am constantly surprised at how powerful food has been in my life. Be it cutting back on sugar and loosing the crazy mood swings or eating more protein and having more energy, the relationship between what we eat and how we feel both physically and emotionally isn't something to be sneezed at. The case of cholesterol and food is no different.
The Lipid Management Guidelines for Australians and New Zealanders recommends that dietary management of elevated cholesterol levels be tried before any drug treatment. Unfortunately, as Darya at Summer Tomato points out, most GPs as well as cardiologists aren't well versed in nutrition and most can't offer us much more advice than; eat less meat and eat more veges, as my Dr told me.
There's much more to it than that and this is what some of it looks like.
Foods to enjoy
- Almonds and Walnuts have been shown to reduce LDL due to monounsaturated fat content.
- Apples contain pectin which is shown to reduce cholesterol levels.
- Avocado is high in monounsaturated fats, avocado improves cholesterol levels.
- Barley contains soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol.
- Legumes have been shown to lower cholesterol through liver pathways.
- Carrots contain beta carotene a powerful antioxidant which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Carrots also work on lowering cholesterol through reducing absorption of cholesterol.
- Garlic contains allicin which is the constituent linked to it's cholesterol lowering properties.
- Grapefruit has also been shown to lower cholesterol. Please discuss including grapefruit in your diet if you are on medication as grapefruit and especially the juice, has interactions with many different meds.
- Shiitake, Maitake and Enoki mushrooms have been shown to lower cholesterol due to increased excretion.
- Oats contain soluble fiber which has been shown to lower cholesterol.
- Olive oil, which is consumed in high quantities in a Mediterranean diet has been shown to be a factor in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
- Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and anchovies contain omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to assist in lowering cholesterol. I've talked more about the benefits of fish here.