Garlic has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol and improve the overall ratio of HDL to LDL. Most proponents of using garlic for health suggest using only fresh garlic. One great way to get more garlic is to add a clove of garlic to other vegetables in a juicer for a great-tasting health cocktail.
2. Protein-rich plant foods
Common legumes include lentils, peas, and beans, such as pinto beans, red beans, white beans, and soybeans. They’re full of nutritional riches and are a very healthy, protein-packed alternative to meat. Legumes help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels, and may even lower cancer risk.
Nuts and seeds have been proven to modestly lower LDL cholesterol levels. To avoid blood-pressure-raising salt, choose raw or dry-roasted, unsalted varieties. To avoid gaining weight, don’t eat more than 1 ounce daily since nuts and seeds are dense with calories (averaging about 175 calories per ounce).
If you’re looking to lower your cholesterol, the key may be simply changing your morning meal. Switching up your breakfast to contain two servings of oats can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by 5.3% in only 6 weeks. The key to this cholesterol buster is beta-glucan, a substance in oats that absorbs LDL, which your body then excretes.
4. Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been modified by a process called hydrogenation.
This is done to make the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils more stable as an ingredient. Many kinds of margarine and shortenings are made of partially hydrogenated oils.
The resulting trans fats are not fully saturated but are solid at room temperatures. This is why food companies have used trans fats in products like spreads, pastries, and cookies — they provide more texture than unsaturated, liquid oils.
Unfortunately, partially hydrogenated trans fats are handled differently in the body than other fats, and not in a good way. Trans fats increase total cholesterol and LDL but decrease beneficial HDL by as much as 20%.
A study of global health patterns estimated trans fats may be responsible for 8% of deaths from heart disease worldwide. Another study estimated a law restricting trans fats in New York will reduce heart disease deaths by 4.5%.
In the United States and an increasing number of other countries, food companies are required to list the number of trans fats in their products on nutrition labels.
However, these labels can be misleading, because they are allowed to round down when the amount of trans fat per serving is less than 0.5 grams. This means some foods contain trans fats even though their labels say “0 grams of trans fat per serving.”
To avoid this trick, read the ingredients in addition to the nutrition label. If a product contains “partially hydrogenated” oil, it has trans fats and should be avoided.
5. Lose Weight
Dieting influences the way your body absorbs and produces cholesterol.
A two-year study of 90 adults on one of three randomly assigned weight loss diets found weight loss on any of the diets increased the absorption of cholesterol from the diet and decreased the creation of new cholesterol in the body.
Over these two years, “good” HDL increased while “bad” LDL did not change, thus reducing the risk of heart disease.
In another similar study of 14 older men, “bad” LDL decreased as well, providing even more heart protection.
A study of 35 young women showed the decreased creation of new cholesterol in the body during weight loss over six months.
Overall, weight loss has a double benefit on cholesterol by increasing beneficial HDL and decreasing harmful LDL.
6. Don’t Smoke
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease in several ways. One of these is by changing how the body handles cholesterol.
The immune cells in smokers are unable to return cholesterol from vessel walls to the blood for transport to the liver. This damage is related to tobacco tar, rather than nicotine.
These dysfunctional immune cells may contribute to the faster development of clogged arteries in smokers.
In a large study of several thousand adults in Pacific Asia, smoking was associated with decreased HDL levels and increased total cholesterol.
Fortunately, giving up smoking can reverse these harmful effects