What if you could eat your way to better cholesterol? What if some of those foods where things that you actually enjoyed…like chocolate? Well, as it turns out, at least to some extent, you can. Here are the 10 best foods to improve your cholesterol. However, before we get to them, remember that only so much of the good stuff can offset your bad habits and that too much of anything is bad. Therefore, it is important that you have a good diet based on low glycemic principles, packed with the good fats and keep the bad fats to a minimum. Combine this diet with lots of exercise and there is a good chance that you will not need these 10 foods. Nevertheless, if end up being close, these foods can give you the edge that you need to get over the hump.
Let’s start with making the good stuff better. HDL is your good cholesterol, the more that you have, the lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. High HDL levels are also associated with better memory in your later years. Surprisingly, at least 4 of the 5 foods shown to raise your HDL are pretty tasty. Unbelievably, chocolate is one of them. However, it can’t be your everyday milk chocolate. Milk chocolate is mostly sugar and has a very low cocoa content. Research has shown that it takes about 25 grams of Cocoa per day to raise your HDL 24% in 3 months. You can get this via bars or as a powder and mix it for a good winter cup of hot cocoa. If you are curious if your favorite chocolate bar has enough cocoa to do the trick, figure out the serving size in grams and multiple by the percentage of cocoa. If it doesn’t list the percentage on the package than the answer is a certain “No”. If you are making own hot cocoa, be sure to use the 100% cocoa and then do not add more than 12 grams of sugar to the mix. The next best food is a little less yummy, but has a powerful impact on your HDL. 150ml of Kale juice daily raises HDL by 27% over 3 months. Just pinch your nose and drink up! About 9 oz of no sugar added cranberry juice will have an impact of approximately 8%. And my favorite, the good old fashioned egg is back…again. As it turns out, an egg a day will raise your total cholesterol by approximately 10 points on average. Fortunately (if you like eggs), it is all from a rise of the good stuff and eggs, as it turns out, have no impact on your LDL. As you probably noticed, the sugar content was mentioned several times. That is because too much sugar increases insulin, which in turn causes an unhealthy shift in the liver’s production in cholesterol. The net result is lower HDL and higher LDL, so do not add any sugar to make the kale juice palatable!
Speaking of LDL, also known as the bad cholesterol, here are the 5 best foods to lower your LDL. Anything with soluble fiber lowers LDL. Apples and kidney beans are near the top of that list, with Steel Cut Oatmeal topping the bunch. Nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which reduce LDL with walnuts being at the top of that list and almonds coming in a close second. 1-2 handfuls per day are enough to do the trick. 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day are loaded with a potent blend of antioxidants that when combined with the mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids of the oil give a 1-2 punch for lowering LDL. Lastly, foods that are fortified with plant sterols or stanols like fortified yogurt drinks also lower your LDL. It takes at least 2 grams of these sterols to get the added benefit of them. Just watch out for the sugar content.
So, for the next 3 months try having an egg with some oatmeal topped with berries, walnuts and almonds for breakfast and then wash it down with some kale juice for breakfast. Have some sterol fortified plain yogurt and some more berries as a snack. End your day with a salad topped with a lean meat and kidney beans with some olive oil drizzled on top. Then finish everything off with a few ounces of dark chocolate cup of hot cocoa. Combine this with regular exercise and a good diet and the odds of getting you cholesterol in check naturally are certainly in your favor!