Cholesterol is a blood fat that is produced in the liver, but can also enter the bloodstream after eating certain foods. Foods high in saturated fat are bad for your cholesterol and include cakes, cookies, and meat pies.
“Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol levels may increase the risk of: narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart attack and stroke,” the NHS said in a statement.
Additional health risks associated with high cholesterol include mini-stroke and peripheral artery disease.
While foods high in saturated fat should not be eaten on a regular basis, are there any foods that can help lower cholesterol levels?
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, there are four “cholesterol-lowering foods” to include in your diet.
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First, there are “sterol and stanol fortified foods,” which are plant-derived chemicals that are similar in size and shape to cholesterol.
Heart UK explains: “They are absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream.
“[They] block the absorption of some cholesterol, lowering the level of cholesterol in the blood.”
You can find yogurt drinks, fat spreads, milk, and yogurts that have plant sterols or stanols added.
Heart UK adds: “These fortified foods lower cholesterol gradually over several weeks.”
However, the amount in which sterols and stanols help lower cholesterol “depends on the amount you eat.”
Another combination of cholesterol that you can add to your diet is oats and barley, which are rich in beta-glucan fiber.
When eaten, beta-gluten forms a gel that binds to cholesterol-rich bile acids in the gut.
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“This helps limit the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed from the gut into the blood,” the charity says.
“Then your liver has to clear more cholesterol from your blood to make more bile, which lowers blood cholesterol.”
Oats and barley can be found in:
- Oat flakes
- Pearl barley.
Nuts are another ingredient that can help lower cholesterol levels. They contain unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and potassium.
Snacking on nuts can also be filling, which means you’re less likely to eat, for example, cookies that are bad for your cholesterol.
Nuts you can eat: almonds, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts and pecans.
Soy foods may also be helpful in lowering cholesterol levels; examples include: soy milk, soy mince, edamame beans, and tofu.
“Try eating some of these every day as part of your healthy diet,” the charity advises.
“The more you add them to what you eat, the more they can help lower your cholesterol levels, especially if you also cut back on saturated fats.”