Cholesterol is important for your body, as it is a part of your cell membranes. Your liver can produce cholesterol for ensuring the proper functioning of the body. However, a lot of foods are high in this fatty substance, which can increase the levels of cholesterol in your body, especially bad “LDL” cholesterol. If the amount of this cholesterol rises, it can increase the possibility of heart diseases.
Additionally, low levels of good cholesterol called “HDL” and increased amounts of triglycerides are also linked with heart diseases. Therefore, it is important for you to maintain cholesterol levels in check for leading a better life.
The foods you eat can be greatly linked to the levels of good cholesterol and bad cholesterol present in your body. Most animal foods might raise the levels of LDL cholesterol thereby increasing the risk of heart diseases. However, there is a large number of plant-based foods that are high in healthy fats which can help to promote the levels of HDL cholesterol. They can help to reduce bad cholesterol and other risk factors associated with heart diseases. Hence, including such foods in your diet can be greatly beneficial for you.
The following are some of the best plant-based foods that can help to lower cholesterol levels and protect your heart from the risk of different diseases.
Legumes or pulses are a category of plant foods that includes peas, beans, and lentils. They create some of the best options to add to your healthy meal prep because of their impressive nutrient profile. These plant-based foods are a great source of fiber, protein, and a wide array of minerals.
Replacing your refined grains and meat products with legumes can reduce the levels of bad cholesterol and protect you from the risk of heart diseases.
Some studies also link legumes to weight loss. Hence, regular consumption of various legumes can be useful for you to prevent the chance of many health conditions.
These fruits are super healthy and they carry an exceptional range of nutrients. Avocados are a wonderful source of fiber and monounsaturated fats that can be beneficial for lowering LDL cholesterol along with promoting the levels of HDL cholesterol.
Several clinical studies also support the cholesterol-lowering properties of avocados. In a study, adults with overweight, obesity, and high levels of bad “LDL” cholesterol took one avocado on a daily basis and they experienced a reduction in the levels of LDL cholesterol when compared to people who didn’t eat this fruit.
Therefore, avocados are preferred by a lot of people for protecting their heart health and preventing the risk of various health conditions.
Nuts also carry impressive levels of nutrients. The high levels of monounsaturated fats in nuts can help to promote your heart health. Some nuts like walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is a form of polyunsaturated fat that is closely associated with heart health.
Additionally, various nuts like almonds are rich in an amino acid called L-arginine that aids your body to produce nitric oxide. This compound is found to regulate blood pressure, which is an important risk factor associated with heart diseases.
Nuts can also offer phytosterols, which are plant compounds that are similar to cholesterol in their structure. These compounds can help to lower the levels of cholesterol by preventing the absorption of these fats in your intestines. In addition to this, calcium, potassium, and magnesium present in nuts can also lower the levels of blood pressure and reduce the risk of various heart diseases.
Consuming a daily serving of nuts is found to lower the chance of fatal and nonfatal heart diseases by 28%.
Research links whole grains with a reduced risk of heart diseases. As whole grains preserve all parts of the grain, they carry a large number of nutrients when compared to refined grains. Whole grains are especially high in fiber and a lot of other important nutrients.
All whole grains can be useful for promoting your heart health, but some grains can be exceptionally good for your heart like:
Oats: This healthy plant-based food carries beta-glucan, which is a particular type of soluble fiber that helps to reduce cholesterol. Consuming oats regularly can aid to control bad cholesterol levels by 7%.
Barley: This grain is also a good source of beta-glucans and can be beneficial for lowering bad cholesterol.
Various fruits, especially berries can be highly beneficial for heart health. Fruits are a rich source of soluble fiber that can help to reduce cholesterol. This fiber can encourage your body to eliminate cholesterol and prevent your liver from producing this fatty compound.
A particular type of soluble fiber known as pectin is especially good in lowering cholesterol levels. This compound is present in a lot of fruits including grapes, apples, strawberries, citrus fruits, etc.
So if you want to include heart-healthy foods in your diet, the above options are worth considering. They can be beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels and protect your heart from the risk of various diseases.