Lower Cholesterol Naturally with a Plant Food Diet
Over 105 million adults in the United States struggle with high cholesterol levels. Many turn to drugs to help lower their cholesterol, but these often have harmful side effects. The good news is that cholesterol can be lowered naturally with a plant food diet. There are certain foods that have been FDA approved for managing cholesterol levels. These foods are natural foods that can help to lower cholesterol and improve your health without harmful side effects.
These foods include: Oats:
- Oats are plentiful in soluble fiber, which reduces LDL cholesterol.
- Oats can be added to your diet by eating foods such as oatmeal, oat bran, and whole oat flour. In addition to breakfast cereals such as hot oatmeal porridge and cold oat bran cereal, oats can be added to foods such as soups, casseroles, and baked goods like cakes and cookies.
- Walnuts have high levels of polyunsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol. Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are well known for their health benefits.
- Walnuts can be eaten plain, added to salads, cereal, yogurt, stir-fry dishes, and desserts such as ice cream or baked goods.
- Almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and pine nuts have also been shown to be beneficial in lowering LDL levels.
- Not all nuts are good! Certain nuts like Macadamias, cashews, and Brazil nuts are very high in fat and may not be as beneficial.
- Be sure to avoid heavily salted or chocolate-covered nuts. These may add unwanted calories to your diet. It is best to stick with the unsalted plain forms of nuts to achieve maximum health benefits.
Foods fortified with plant sterols or stanols, present in certain foods such as:
- Salad dressings
- Orange juice
- Fortified snack bars
- The FDA has determined that "a daily diet containing 25 grams of soy protein, also low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease." In fact, soy can reduce LDL levels by 10%, which in turn can reduce the risk of heart disease by 20%.
- Traditional sources of soy like tofu and soybeans are well known, although not always palatable. In recent years, products have been developed that are attractive to many consumers. Many different varieties of soy milk are now easily available in most grocery stores. Soy-based snack bars are also popular. There are also many soy-based meat and dairy product replacements, such as soy "turkey" and soy "cheese".
These foods have been shown to lower cholesterol as effectively as harmful pharmaceuticals. In addition to lacking the harmful side effects of harsh drugs, these foods also have the added benefit of costing less. Ruth Frechman, Registered Dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says, "These foods may not be magic, but they're close to it." Of course, simply adding these foods to your existing diet will not get rid of all your cholesterol problems. It is necessary to eat a diet low in fat and cholesterol, as well as exercising regularly. Adding these special foods to an already balanced diet can aid in the natural reduction of cholesterol.
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