Cholesterol is essential for your body to function well. However, a high level of cholesterol can cause blockages in the arteries and lead to heart ailments. This is why it is necessary to maintain cholesterol levels in the body. The diet is one of the most important things that can help in controlling the levels of cholesterol. A low-cholesterol diet will prevent coronary artery diseases and help in maintaining health. Below are a few foods that can be included in a low-cholesterol diet for a healthy body.
- Foods with unsaturated fats: Most junk foods are high in saturated fats, which increase the level of cholesterol in the body. This is why it is recommended to avoid eating foods such as fries, chips, and anything cooked in vegetable oils like palm oil or coconut oil. However, not all kinds of fats are unhealthy. Foods rich in unsaturated fats are highly recommended for a low-cholesterol diet. You will find unsaturated fats in oils made from olive, corn, rapeseed, sunflower, nuts, and seeds. Oily fish, avocado, and vegetable spreads are also low in cholesterol.
- Soya-based products: Soya is known to contain low levels of saturated fats. The protein in soya regulates and controls the levels of cholesterol in the body. It has been observed that a daily intake of around 15 grams of soy protein can lower cholesterol by 6%. It is ideal to include soy in the diet, eat foods such as soy nuts, tofu, edamame beans, soy milk, soy-based desserts, and soy yogurt. Foods such as miso, tempeh, bean sprouts, and fermented bean paste are also good sources of soya. You can also find soy-fortified foods such as crackers, bread, and cereals.
- Foods with soluble fiber: Soluble fiber has been known to lower cholesterol levels. Foods that are rich in soluble fiber include oats and barley. These contain beta-glucan which prevents the absorption of cholesterol in the body. Beans, lentils, and peas are also good sources of soluble fiber. A regular consumption of fruits and vegetables can also lower cholesterol levels. Aubergine, sweet potato, okra, broccoli, prunes, apples, and strawberries should be made a regular part of a low-cholesterol diet.
- Foods with plant stanols and sterols: Similar to soluble fibers, stanols and sterols obtained from plants help in lowering cholesterol levels in the body. Whole grains, seeds, nuts, vegetables, and fruits are good sources of plant sterols and stanols. Peanuts, oils made from sesame, canola and olive oil, almonds, Brussels sprouts, wheat germ, and wheat bran are rich in plant stanols and sterols. Certain packaged foods are also fortified with stanols and sterols obtained from plants. Supplements containing these two cholesterol-lowering substances are also available. However, it is recommended that you take these substances through natural sources rather than the artificial ones if you want to maintain a healthy low-cholesterol diet.
- Fatty fish: Fatty fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids lower the levels of triglycerides in the body, which lead to a reduction of cholesterol levels. Baked or grilled fish are highly recommended for low-cholesterol diets. Trout, salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. You can also take fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids. Two servings of fish per week are recommended to keep the cholesterol levels in the body in check.