Yes, experts say certain healthy foods can fight the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol that contributes to dangerous plaque buildup in your arteries. Lowering cholesterol can prevent heart attacks and reduce deaths from heart disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Here are the top foods for fighting cholesterol and protecting your heart in other ways, according to MayoClinic.com and Harvard Medical School:
Oatmeal and Other High-Fiber Foods. The soluble fiber in oats can bind with LDL cholesterol in your digestive system, helping to prevent cholesterol from entering your bloodstream. This type of fiber is also in foods like kidney beans, apples, citrus fruit, eggplant, okra, and barley and other whole grains. Experts recommend 5-10 grams or more of soluble fiber per day to lower cholesterol.
Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Fatty fish is heart-healthy because it has high levels of omega-3, which can help fight plaque growth in arteries, reduce undesirable triglycerides (a fat in your blood), decrease blood pressure and stabilize irregular heartbeats. Doctors recommend at least two servings of fish a week. The highest omega-3 levels are found in salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, lake trout and sardines.
Walnuts, Almonds and Other Nuts. They can help reduce cholesterol and keep blood vessels healthy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that eating a handful a day (1.5 ounces) of plain nuts each day may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Olive Oil. Its antioxidants can help lower LDL cholesterol, leaving your HDL “good” cholesterol unaffected. The FDA suggests about 2 Tbsp. per day in place of other fats in your diet. The “extra-virgin” variety provides the most heart-healthy benefits.
Plant Sterols and Stanols. These plant substances can help block the body’s absorption of cholesterol. Many foods are now fortified with sterols and stanols – margarines, orange juice and yogurt drinks, for example.
Other important advice: Eat a healthy diet low in cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats; lose weight and exercise – both have a beneficial impact on cholesterol and overall health.
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