You probably already know that having high cholesterol levels – especially “bad” LDL – is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. What you may not know is that your diet has a major effect on your cholesterol and other risk factors.
What is LDL?
LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up plaque in the walls of your blood vessels. This can cause a narrowing of the insides of the vessels, which can restrict and eventually block blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause chest pain or a heart attack.
Smart eating – as well as exercise and healthy lifestyle choices – are some of the most effective ways to get high LDL under control. Here are some choices that can help lower “bad” LDL levels and are a good source of protein.
Foods To Fight Bad Cholesterol
- Whole Grains
Extensive research ties whole grains – particularly oats and barley – to lower heart disease risk. In fact, a review of 45 studies linked eating three servings of whole grains daily to a 20% lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
Whole grains keep all parts of the grain intact, which provides them with more vitamins, minerals, plant compounds and fiber than refined grains.
- Fatty Fish
Fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s give a powerful boost for your heart health by increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering inflammation. In one study, older adults who ate tuna or other baked or broiled fish at least once a week had a 27% lower risk of stroke.
- Dark Chocolate
It may seem too good to be true, but research verifies the claims that dark chocolate can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. Cocoa and dark chocolate protect the “bad” LDL cholesterol in your blood from oxidation, which is a key cause of heart disease.
However, chocolate is often high in added sugar — which negatively affects heart health. Therefore, you should use cocoa alone or choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 75–85% or higher.
- Dark Leafy Greens
While all vegetables are good for your heart, dark leafy greens are particularly beneficial. Kale and spinach, for example, contain lutein and other carotenoids, which are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
Dark leafy greens may also help lower cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids and making your body excrete more cholesterol.
Lowering your risk of heart disease by incorporating these foods into your diet is a good idea. Still, you can never go wrong being prepared. Get a Heart/Stroke/Cancer policy from ASBA. The plan will pay you a lump sum upon initial diagnosis. You’re free to spend the money as you wish: to pay medical bills, cover the cost of transportation to the doctor, anything – the money is yours.