“Bad” cholesterol, known as “LDL” cholesterol, increases the risk of developing heart disease. As the leading cause of death in the U.S., heart disease claims the lives of nearly 647,000 people every year. Reducing “bad” cholesterol levels can also lessen the risks of developing heart disease. Improve “good” cholesterol levels, known as “HDL” cholesterol, by adding the following foods to your diet. These foods reduce the risks of heart disease by lowering “LDL” cholesterol and increasing “HDL” cholesterol levels:
Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fiber and fats. Both help lower bad cholesterol levels, in turn reducing the risk of heart attack and heart disease. Many studies conclude that avocados lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Serve avocados as a dip, chopped in a salad, or by themselves as a tasty treat!
Plant-based foods such as beans, lentils, and peas fall into the legumes category. The foods contain high amounts of protein, fiber, and minerals. Replace processed meats with legumes to considerably lower your risk of heart disease. Eating just ½ cup of legumes each day lowers LDL cholesterol levels by 6.6mg/dl.
3. Fatty fish
Include fatty fish on your menu at least weekly to enjoy an abundance of heart-health benefits. Salmon and mackerel are two excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL levels. Fatty fish also reduces the risk of a stroke!
4. Almonds and walnuts
Although any type of nut is healthy, almonds and walnuts offer the biggest health benefits. Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids that improve heart health. Almonds are rich in L-arginine, an amino acid the body needs to regulate blood pressure. Nuts also provide phytosterols that lower cholesterol by blocking intestinal absorption.
5. Dark chocolate
It seems too good to be true, but it is not! Eating dark chocolate lowers bad cholesterol levels! Cocoa, the main ingredient in dark chocolate, also increases “good” HDL cholesterol levels. Dark chocolate tastes great, and with so many benefits to heart-health, why not indulge yourself in a treat a couple of times per month?
6. Whole grains
Include whole grains in your diet each day. Oats and barley are especially beneficial in the quest to lower heart disease/heart attack risks. Several studies estimate that eating three servings of whole grains every day reduces stroke and heart disease risks by 20%. People who ate more whole grains enjoyed even better results.
Berries are rich in antioxidants and soluble fiber. This reduces cholesterol levels by stopping the liver from producing the LDL compound. Eating berries can reduce pectin, one type of soluble fiber, by as much as 10%. Along with berries, fruits such as oranges, apples, and grapes are great additions to a heart-healthy diet.