Have high cholesterol? Here are simple and effective tips to lower it

Having high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke, but a change in diet can help lower bad cholesterol levels without medicine.

A healthy Mediterranean meal (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A healthy Mediterranean meal
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

Having high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. However, a change in dietary habits can contribute to lowering bad cholesterol levels without medication.

Eat foods rich in soluble fiber

Soluble fiber is found in large quantities in beans, legumes, whole grains, flaxseed, apples and citrus fruits. 

These fibers pass through the digestive tract, absorbing water and forming a thick ointment that passes through the intestines and all the while absorbing bile composed of cholesterol.

Studies have found that regular consumption of soluble fiber is associated with a reduction in both total and bad cholesterol (LDL) in just four weeks by 5-10%. It is recommended to eat at least 5-10 grams of soluble fiber per day for maximum cholesterol-lowering effects.

 Ketogenic diets are high in fat from foods such as avocado. (credit: MAXPIXEL) Ketogenic diets are high in fat from foods such as avocado. (credit: MAXPIXEL)

Eat unsaturated fats

There are two main types of fats in food: saturated fats, which are solid fats at room temperature and unsaturated fats, which contain at least one double bond that prevents them from sticking and keeps them liquid at room temperature.

Unsaturated fats are found in foods like avocados, olives, nuts and fatty fish.

Studies show that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats can reduce total cholesterol by 9% and LDL cholesterol by 11% in just eight weeks.

That is why it is advisable to eat them regularly since people who eat more unsaturated fats and less saturated fats have lower cholesterol levels over time.

Avoid artificial trans fats

The main source of most trans fats is processed foods - many restaurants and food manufacturers make extensive use of this fat because it is a cheap source of natural saturated fats.

Synthetic trans fats are produced by hydrogen or by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils to change their structure and solidify at room temperature.

Numerous studies have shown that eating artificial trans fats increases bad cholesterol and reduces good cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease by 23%.

Eat less added sugars

A study found that adults who consumed 25% of their calories from drinks made with high-fructose corn syrup experienced a 17% increase in bad cholesterol in just two weeks.

According to a 14-year study, these people were almost three times more likely to die from heart disease than those who received less than 10% of their calories from added sugars.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and children and no more than 150 calories (37.5 grams) per day for men.

Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet includes an abundance of unsaturated fats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, herbs, spices, fiber, fish, small amounts of red and white meat and most dairy products, and moderate alcohol consumption.

This diet is considered very healthy for the heart because it includes many foods that lower cholesterol.