Knowing that you have high cholesterol can be overwhelming and frightening as you are constantly aware of the risks involved and the changes you need to make. Fortunately, experts believe it’s the specific, small changes that add up over time and make all the difference in lowering your cholesterol.
“It’s not about adding or subtracting egg yolks, which is probably the most misinformation you’ve heard when it comes to lowering cholesterol, but rather it’s about getting focus on adopting a higher quality diet so that over time it just becomes the way you live and doesn’t require constant effort,” says medical expert Laura Burak, MS, RD, author of Slimdown with Smoothies and founder of Laura Burak Nutrition.
To learn more about these dietary changes, we spoke with Burak and fellow medical expert Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author of First Time Mom Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertilityabout their advice on the best habits to adopt to lower your cholesterol.
Here’s what they had to say, and for more heart-healthy tips, check out The Best Foods That Can Help Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease.
Yes, there are certain foods that someone with high cholesterol may want to avoid or limit, but our dietitians want readers to know that adding healthy, whole foods to your daily diet can dramatically improve your levels. cholesterol and your overall health.
“Center the base of your diet around nutritious whole foods like fruits and vegetables, and heart-healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon. , which help improve your blood lipids,” Burak says. .
Oats are known for their long list of health benefits, helping with virtually everything under the sun, such as improving your gut health, helping you manage weight, improving insulin resistance and helping lower cholesterol. .
“Oats contain a fiber called beta-glucan, which basically helps eliminate cholesterol from the body,” says Manaker. “While adding oats to your breakfast is an obvious dish, these whole grains can be added to a host of other dishes (even meatloaf!) to help give your diet a boost. beta-glucan thumb.”
Eating plenty of whole foods on a regular basis is one of the keys to lowering cholesterol. According to Burak, avoiding added sugars and processed foods can also do wonders for your heart health.
“Contrary to what you might believe about cholesterol in the past, the abundance of added sugars in our modern diets is one of the biggest contributors to increased cholesterol and heart disease, not previously demonized foods like eggs and dairy,” says Burak. “It’s very important to limit your intake of processed foods and added sugars like candy and cookies.”
Watermelon is a surprisingly powerful fruit, especially when it comes to your heart health. And luckily, this good news comes just in time for many summer picnics and barbecues.
“Watermelon is a natural source of lycopene, a carotenoid that, when taken daily in certain doses, can lower LDL cholesterol levels,” says Maanker. “According to the results of a clinical trial published in Current developments in nutrition, eating watermelon is linked to lower LDL cholesterol and improved HDL cholesterol. Watermelon makes a handy addition to many dishes and is a classic hydrating snack loved by many. Plus, the whole watermelon is edible (including the rind!), which also makes it a sustainable food choice.”
In addition to watermelon, berries have also been found to help improve your overall health, and specifically your heart health.
“Berries are a naturally sweet food with no added sugars and are packed with healthy nutrients that support heart health,” Manaker says. “Data from a meta-analysis showed that consuming berries significantly lowered LDL cholesterol levels, making them an obvious choice for lowering cholesterol.”
Don’t have fresh berries at home? Manaker says “frozen options can be just as nutritious as fresh options and, in many cases, can also be much more economical.”