Diet to lower triglycerides

25 healthy foods to lower your cholesterol

High cholesterol level in the body can lead to various health issues. Making you prone to several serious health diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, it is extremely important to keep it under control.
Those suffering from cholesterol issues should know that your diet can be greatly responsible for high cholesterol level in the body. Hence, before indulging in any type of food, it is important to know your food and how it impacts you. Here we have mentioned few foods that help in keeping your cholesterol level under control.

# 1 Oats and oat bran – Oats is a cholesterol buster. One of its components beta-glucan, helps in absorbing LDL (the bad cholesterol) which the body then excretes. According to the studies, as little as 3 grams of soluble oat fibre daily, present in one bowl of oatmeal, can reduce total cholesterol by 8-23 per cent in people who are suffering from high cholesterol issues.
# 2 Beans and legumes – Beans like kidney beans (rajma), bengal Gram (chana) and chick peas (kabuli chana), are rich in dietary fibre which help in reducing cholesterol level and thus, can prevent the rise of blood sugar levels.
# 3 Avocados – Rich in vitamin K, C, B5, B6, E, potassium and folate, along with a small quantity of magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, phosphorus, vitamin A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin) and B3 (Niacin), protein, avocados are low-carb plant food. They keep a healthy blood pressure which is a solution for a lot of problems, one of them being cholesterol.
# 4 Nuts – Studies have shown that eating a whole walnut daily, for a month helps in lowering cholesterol by 5.4 per cent and LDL cholesterol by 9.3 per cent. Almonds and cashews are other good options for treating cholesterol.
# 5 Barley and other grains – Like oats, barley and other whole grains lower the risk of heart diseases, because of the soluble fibre they deliver. Barley also controls triglyceride level and regulates blood sugar level.
# 6 Eggplant and okra – These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fibre and fibre is essential to control cholesterol level in the body.
# 7 Fruits – Fruits are a boundless source of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre. Fruits such as pear, apples, oranges, berries, grapefruit and pomegranate have the necessary nutrients and components that aid in reducing the cholesterol level in the blood. It is also because their high fibre content help in reducing cholesterol level.
# 8 Soy – Soy, also known as soyabeans, have the ability to improve the metabolism, help gain healthy weight, protect heart, defend against cancer. It also reduces the effect of menopause, improves digestive health, promotes bone health, protects against birth defects, increases circulation and decreases the risk of diabetes. Its products like tofu, nuggets, Nutella, soy nuts and unflavoured soy milk help to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. It is a great substitute of the animal protein for the vegetarians as it lowers the level of total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides without lowering HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

# 9 Fatty Fish – Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. The omega-3 fatty acid in fish when consumed, reduces the triglyceride level by as much as 25-30 per cent while increasing the level of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) that are good for heart health.
# 10 Vegetable oil – Vegetable oils are also beneficial and useful in lowering cholesterol level in the body. Using oils such as sunflower and other varieties, in place of butter in cooking or at the table help in lowering LDL.
# 11 Rice bran oil – With the balance of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) and monounsaturated fats (MUFA), rice bran oil is one of healthiest cooking oils. As it contains the right amount of oryzanol, which is an antioxidant, rice bran oil thus decreases cholesterol absorption and increases our body’s ability to eliminate excess cholesterol.
# 12 Tomatoes – Rich in vitamins and minerals, tomatoes are good for hydration, to stimulate blood circulation, increase red blood cells and platelets and even fight against different forms of cancer. It detoxifies the body, reduces cholesterol, increases digestion, improves eyesight and provides relief from various skin problems.
# 13 Fenugreek seeds – Fenugreek seeds, or more commonly known as Methi seeds, have the ability to lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride level in the blood. According to the studies conducted, it is seen that the regular consumption of fenugreek seeds are also effective in controlling blood sugar level in people with diabetes.
# 14 Lemons – Lemon juice is a great way to consume vitamin C every day. Drinking lemon juice daily reduces the level of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol in the body. Lemon Juice is one of the best natural cleansers because of its high citric acid content. The best time to drink lemon juice is in the morning, just after getting out of the bed. Drinking lemon juice on an empty stomach every day keeps your body healthy and free of impurities.
# 15 Ginger – Ginger is the best solution for healthy stimulation and increases blood circulation. While during winter, it keeps us warm and helps in getting rid of throat infections. Ginger is also rich in good enzymes and natural oil which reduces the level of bad cholesterol from the body.
# 16 Garlic – As garlic is known for its antibiotic properties, it should be mixed with food after chopping or crushing for better absorption of its nutrients.
# 17 Ispaghula husk – Also known as Psyllium, Ispaghula husk is a dietary fibre mainly consumed to get relief from the symptoms of both constipation and mild diarrhoea. It is also sometimes used as a food thickener. Studies have shown that ispaghula benefits in reducing blood cholesterol level.
# 18 Green Tea – Green Tea is one thing that can be found in almost every household and is a natural medicine to aid digestion. It also improves heart and mental health and regulates body temperature.
# 19 Coriander – Coriander seeds are very useful in lowering the cholesterol level. The best way to consume coriander is by boiling two tablespoons of coriander seeds in a glass of water, strain the decoction after cooling and drink it twice a day for effective results.

# 20 Cluster beans – Cluster beans, also known as Guar beans, which are a rich source of dietary fibre (guar gum). It is beneficial in lowering cholesterol level.
# 21 Cinnamon – Even half a teaspoon of cinnamon a day significantly reduces the blood sugar level, triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol in people suffering from type 2 diabetes
# 22 Celery – Celery has a high antioxidant content and thus, it is known to lower the risk of heart disease by preventing oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
# 23 Broccoli and other vegetables – Broccoli contains cholesterol lowering properties. The fibre in broccoli lowers cholesterol by binding with bile acids in the digestive tract and excreting it out of the body.
# 24 Apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar is an excellent health tonic promoted for treating allergies, rashes, and infections and for aiding digestion and promoting weight loss. Vinegar maintains the pH level in the body and has a rich amount of potassium and enzymes which also helps in making a healthier body.
# 25 Brown Rice – Brown rice is the unpolished form of rice that retains most of its fibre and nutrient content that is otherwise removed from refined, white or polished rice. The brown rice is rich in nutrients including B vitamins, selenium, magnesium and phytonutrients.

Diet Tips to Reduce High Triglycerides

Healthy or High: Understanding Triglyceride Numbers

“You want to keep your triglyceride number under 150. The higher your number goes, the more you are at risk,” says Dr. Dinwoodey. Here are the numbers you should know:

  • Normal triglycerides are less than 150 mg/dL.
  • Borderline triglycerides are between 150 and 199 mg/dL.
  • Over 200 mg/dL is too high.
  • Over 500 mg/dL is very high.

“High triglycerides are associated with obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, and thyroid disease. The first thing your doctor will do is try to correct any of these problems. Over the long term, the most important thing you need to do is make lifestyle modifications to keep triglycerides in check,” says Dinwoodey.

Choosing Foods That Lower Triglycerides

A diet to lower triglycerides is about striving not to take in more calories than your body can use. That may mean eating less and exercising more. When you take in more calories than you need, your body changes those calories into triglycerides and they get stored in your fat cells.

Here are tips to help you choose calories well and lower your triglycerides:

  • Reduce saturated fats and trans fats. These are the fats commonly found in animal products, fast foods, commercially baked goods, and other packaged foods.
  • Use healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These are found in olive oil or canola oil for cooking.
  • Get most of your calories from fruits, vegetables, and non-fat or low-fat dairy products.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation. “Alcohol is full of empty calories that are particularly bad for high triglycerides,” warns Dinwoodey.
  • Avoid added and refined sugars.
  • Eat fish as a protein source once or twice a week. “Coldwater fish oils, such as those in salmon, are high in omega-3 fatty acids that help lower triglycerides,” says Dinwoodey.
  • Make sure you have plenty of fiber in your diet. Whole-grain products add fiber and help you avoid overeating because they fill you up.
  • Limit your total dietary cholesterol to 200 mg per day.

A heart-healthy diet to lower triglycerides includes lowering sugar, lowering fat, and limiting alcohol. However, if you have a very high triglycerides or a combination of high triglycerides and low HDL (good) cholesterol or high LDL (bad) cholesterol, you may need medication along with diet to lower triglycerides. Your doctor can help you determine if you need to be taking medication in addition to your diet changes.

Related: 8 Tips to Lower Triglycerides

Everyone over age 20 should have their lipid profile checked with a simple blood test as part of a routine physical. If you haven’t had it checked yet, now is a good time. When it comes to high triglycerides and bad cholesterol, what you don’t know can hurt you.

How do we reduce our triglycerides to Ayurveda?

Triglycerides are a type of lipids or fats that occur when the calories, which we consume with food remain unused. When they are not needed by the organism, triglycerides are accumulated and stored in the fat cells and when our body needs them (while eating, performing physical activity in order to protect us from cold and other), they are released in order to meet its needs.

When our body needs energy, the insulin allows access to triglycerides that are divided into glycerol and fat cells through a process called lipase. In turn, glycerol converts to glucose and provides energy to the body.

Fat cells are used for production of cellular energy through a process called beta – oxidation or they can perform other functions such as formation of cellular membrane, hormone regulation, transport of fat-soluble vitamins and formation of myelin in the brain and skin, and other.

Simply put, when triglycerides are within normal levels, they are very important (and useful) for our health.

Values of the triglycerides:

  • normal – lower than 150 ml/dl;
  • risky – 150-199 ml/dl;
  • high – 200 – 499 ml/dl;
  • very high – 500 ml/dl or more

The problems come when their values are high and this happens when their production increases. Our organism can’t burn all triglycerides and they accumulate in our body most often in the form of fats, which in turn causes a condition called hypertriglyceridemia.

According of the data of the World Health Organization, more than 30% of the population of the USA and Europe have increased levels of triglycerides, and these high levels are the main risk factor for the occurence of cardiovascular diseases, which is the N1 cause among the causers of death globally.

Studies carried out by the World Health Organization in 2007 have shown that there is a direct link between the high levels of triglycerides and coronary disease of the heart (occlusion of the arteries).

Factors that affect the values of triglycerides can be genetic (less common) or weight disturbances.

When a person is overweight, the triglycerides accumulated in the organism can’t be completely consumed and they accumulate in the form of fat in different parts of the body. Their increased level, in turn, reduces the level of good cholesterol and increases the bad, as all this leads to occurance of diseases such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, pancreatitis, atherosclerosis and other.

How to reduce our triglycerides with the help of Ayurveda?

Modern medicine offers a variety of medications to lower the triglyceride levels and it recommends a diet (most commonly Mediterranean) to be followed in order the weight to be reduced, because as it is already clear, overweight and unbalanced nutrition are one of the main reasons for high levels of triglycerides.

Methods for lowering of the triglycerides with the help of Ayurveda are a little bit different than these of conventional medicine, so now we will explain, staring with the following…

According to modern medicine, following a diet is the main method to reduce the weight and to lower bad cholesterol and the levels of triglycerides accordingly, but Ayurveda works on building habits to maintain a balanced lifestyle.

None of the Ayurvedic texts mentions „cholesterol”, but refers to „lipid tissue” (meta datum) and it explains how to maintain a healthy amount and quality of the fat tissue in the body. When the lipid tissue is balanced and healthy, then the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol are normal.

When the digestive fire (Agni) is weak, the organism accumulates ama (toxins) in the fat tissue. Usually ama is a metabolic waste, which is a product of improper digestion and it can cause clogging and blockage of the channels of the body (most often this is an artery occlusion).

Besides ama, there are other, even more dangerous toxins called amavisha, as they form when ama has been present in the organism for a long time. Then this excessive amount of ama begins to spread throughout the entire body, mixing with the tissues of the body (dhatus) and mala (waste products). Once amavisha is mixed with the fat tissue, it begins to cause damage to the channels, which in turn leads to diseases, some of which we mentioned above.

In order to lower the triglycerides naturally, Ayurveda doesn’t only focus on foods that lower the cholesterol (and triglycerides), but rather works on the nutritional recommendations that balance the overall metabolism of fats in the body.

That is why Ayurveda recommends balancing of Kapha dosha, because the imbalanced Kapha is one of the main reasons for the accumulations of excessive amount of triglycerides in the organism.

Lowering the triglycerides with the help of Ayureda – practical tips

To increase the digestive fire (agni) and to improve the metabolism of fats, Ayurveda recommends following a diet that reduces the Kapha’s excess in the body.

It is recommended to consume foods such as lentils, mung bean, mung dahl, horseradish, which are rich sources of fiber and proteins and they cleanse the gastrointestinal tract from toxins.

For the balancing of Kapha, Ayurveda recommends also the consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and fruits such as apples and pears.

Also very good are the foods with bitter taste, as they include all leafy vegetables, for example, spinach and cabbage. Seasoned with spices, these vegetables cleanse the intestines and help to lower triglycerides and prevent the accumulation of bad cholesterol in the organism.

The soothing Kapha diet includes also many whole grain foods such as:

  • barley that improves fat metabolism;
  • oats that provides the fiber necessary for the organism;
  • quinoa that provides zinc, which also imrpves metabolism of fats.

A big role in lowering the triglycerides with the help of Ayurveda have the garlic, apple vinegar, turmeric, essential oils such as lavender oil and basil extract.

Once the food is prepared it should be consumed warm, because this helps to boost the digestive fire agni and to balance Kapha dosha.

In the process of food preparation, it is good to use olive oil or ghee butter, although in both cases don’t overdo it.

Foods that increase the levels of triglycerides and should be avoided

Glycemic foods, trans fats, saturated fat foods should be avoided when we want to reduce our weight and our triglycerides accordingly. Why these foods exactly and what are they? Ayurveda answers the question as follows:

Glycemic foods are transformed directly into triglycerides and accumulate as fats or, otherwise said, they make us fat and increase our bad cholesterol.

Such foods are:

  • sweet drinks;
  • sugar and all its varieties;
  • sweet foods (sweet foods are not only desserts, but also a large part of fruits containing high levels of fructose);
  • all foods made from white flour – bread, pasta, pizza, snacks and more. The consumption of whole grain flour products is allowed in small quantities;
  • refined products such as white rice;
  • dried fruits, especially dried bananas, plums, apricots;
  • any type of alcohol (beer, wine, hard alcohol)

Saturated fats also should be avoided because their consumption can lead to imbalanced production of triglycerides. Such fats are contained in the lard, hard cheeses, cream, ice cream, beef, pork, bird meat with skin, palm oil and coconut oil.

Trans fats are a modern invention formed by the addition of hydrogen to liquid fats. These fats can’t be absorbed by the organism and when they enter our bodies they immediately form ama.

Ayurveda considers trans fats to be very harmful and dangerous, because their consumption not only increases the levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol, but is also one of the causes for occurrence of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, stroke and other.

Foods that contain trans fats are margarine, packaged products, fried and packaged sweet foods such as donuts, pies, biscuits, waffles, cakes.

Trans fats are also present in fried foods and in particular in the fried potatoes that are offered in the restaurants, because palm oil is often used for their preparation.

In addition to the change in nutrition and the limitation of bad foods consumption, for reduction of triglycerides with the help of Ayurveda, is also recommended a change is the lifestyle.

This includes establishing a routine in life. Eating always at the same time, going to bed and waking up at the same time, exercise and meditation.

Daytime sleep is not recommended, so it should be avoided. It is best to wake up early in the morning (before sunrise) and to go to bed at 22.00 p.m.

As we have already mentioned, meals should be consumed always at the same time, as the most abundant meat have to be at lunch, and the dinner should be light and if possible before sunset.

Exercises such as yoga asanas and suri namaskar (sun salutations) are part of the Ayurvedic therapy and if performed twice a day they help to normalize the metabolism of fats and to reduce triglycerides and cholesterol.

Pranayama or yoga breathing techniques are also recommended, because the proper breathing helps for the improvement of digestion and for cleansing of channels from the accumulated ama.

To balance cholesterol, it is also important to do other physical exercises such as daily walks, swimming, aerobics or other type of sports, which, however, should be practiced regularly.

Ayurveda also recommends some herbal products that have very good effect on the levels of triglycerides.

And most importantly, the proper nutrition, maintenance of normal weight, physical exercises and consumption of herbal products have to be combined with regular appointments for check-ups at the office of the Ayurveda doctor.

We say this because the increase of triglycerides happens without any visible symptoms, so only with medical tests can be found whether there are any problems or not.

Summit Medical Group Web Site

How to eat to lower triglycerides

By Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, CPT for Summit Medical Group

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, with 1 out of every 4 deaths due to heart disease.1 Most people are aware that elevated cholesterol, high amounts of LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and low amounts of HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ cholesterol) are important risk factors for heart disease. Yet many people aren’t aware that triglyceride levels also are a risk factor for heart disease and stroke risk.2

What are triglycerides?

Different from cholesterol, triglycerides are the most common type of fat in our body, transporting excess calories through our bloodstream to be stored in our body’s fat cells. Blood tests measure the amount of triglycerides in our bloodstream. 2017 guidelines from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) define triglyceride measurements:

<150 mg/dL = optimum
150 to 199 mg/dL = borderline high
200 to 499 mg/dL = high
> 500 mg/dL = very high3

According to a 2011 American Heart Association (AHA) report, 31% of the United States population has a triglyceride level higher than 150 md/dL.4 Research suggests that high triglyceride, low HDL, and high LDL levels act synergistically to increase risk of heart disease, making paying attention to triglyceride levels important for good health.3

How can I lower triglycerides with food choices?

The good news is that it’s possible to lower triglyceride levels by 20-50% with food choices alone.4 Use these 7 strategies to reduce triglycerides and decrease your risk of heart disease:

  1. Use less added sugar in foods and beverages. The foods that contain the most added sugar include sweetened beverages, fruit drinks, cookies, sweet breakfast cereals, sweetened yogurt, sweetened milk (chocolate milk and sweetened milk alternatives such as sweetened almond, soy, or coconut milk), ice cream, grain products like sweet rolls, and candy.2 The AHA recommends limiting added sugars to fewer than 100 calories or 6 teaspoons daily for women and 150 calories or 9 teaspoons daily for men. Consuming more added sugar is associated with triglyceride levels that are 10-15% higher.4
  2. In addition to consuming less added sugar, pay special attention to fructose, a type of sugar that is known to cause higher triglyceride levels. Fructose is most often found in high amounts in sweetened beverages, candy, and commercially prepared cookies, cakes, pies and muffins.4 Fructose is not listed on the nutrition facts label, but by reducing the total amount of added sugar in foods you’ll also reduce fructose. Agave nectar and honey are common sources of fructose, and also are considered sources of added sugar. Fructose is naturally found in all types of fresh, frozen or canned fruit, but at very low levels that do not raise triglycerides.2
  3. A Mediterranean-style eating plan that includes plenty of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains; lean sources of protein like chicken and seafood, and uses olive oil instead of other types of fats and oils has been shown to lower triglyceride levels by 10-15%.4 Aim to include at least five servings of vegetables and fruit in your food choices every day for more fiber and less added sugar.3
  4. Choose healthier types of fat that are high in monounsaturated fatty acids like olive oil, canola oil, or safflower oil instead of fats that are high in saturated fatty acids like butter. Eat smaller portions of foods that contain saturated fat: cheese, fatty beef, pork, lamb, poultry skin, commercially baked foods, and fried foods.5,6 Eliminate trans fatty acids, a type of fat that is found in fried foods like donuts and French fries, commercially baked foods like cookies, cakes, biscuits, frozen pizza and sweet rolls.7
  5. Choose higher fiber, whole grain foods such as brown rice, whole oats, whole grain wheat, quinoa and amaranth instead of more processed white flour-based foods.4
  6. Losing 5-10% of your body weight if you are overweight or obese has been shown to lower triglyceride levels by 20%, with higher triglyceride reductions associated with more weight loss.2
  7. Omega-3 fatty acids that are present in seafood, or supplements that are made from seafood if recommended by your physician, can lower triglycerides by 25-30%. Non-seafood based omega-3 fatty acids found in canola oil, chia seeds, flaxseed, soybeans, and walnuts do not lower triglycerides because they are chemically different from the omega-3 fatty acids in seafood and are not efficiently metabolized in our body.4

Losing weight, replacing processed foods typically high in sugar and fat with higher fiber foods, eliminating trans fatty acids, restricting fructose and saturated fatty acids, implementing a Mediterranean-style diet, and consuming marine-derived omega-3 PUFA are well-researched strategies that will lower triglyceride levels.4

A recipe for better heart health

A heart-healthy eating plan can help you manage your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. The simple cooking tips below will help you prepare tasty, heart-healthy meals that could help improve your cholesterol levels by reducing excess saturated fat and trans fat.

Reduce saturated fat in meat and poultry

The American Heart Association recommends a diet that emphasizes poultry and limits red meat. The amount of saturated fat in meats can vary widely, depending on the cut and how it’s prepared.

Here are some ways to reduce the saturated fat in meat:

  • Select lean cuts of meat with minimal visible fat. Lean beef cuts include the round, chuck, sirloin or loin. Lean pork cuts include the tenderloin or loin chop. Lean lamb cuts come from the leg, arm and loin.
  • Buy “choice” or “select” grades rather than “prime.” Select lean or extra lean ground beef.
  • Trim all visible fat from meat before cooking.
  • Broil rather than pan-fry meats such as hamburger, lamb chops, pork chops and steak.
  • Use a rack to drain off fat when broiling, roasting or baking. Instead of basting with drippings, keep meat moist with wine, fruit juices or a heart-healthy oil-based marinade.
  • Cook a day ahead of time. Stews, boiled meat, soup stock or other dishes in which fat cooks into the liquid can be refrigerated. Later, remove the hardened fat from the top.
  • When a recipe calls for browning the meat first, try browning it under the broiler instead of in a pan.
  • Eat chicken and turkey rather than duck and goose, which are higher in fat. Choose white meat most often when eating poultry.
  • Remove the skin from chicken or turkey before cooking. If your poultry dries out too much, first try basting with wine, fruit juices or a heart-healthy oil-based marinade. Or, leave the skin on for cooking and then remove it before eating.
  • Limit processed meats such as sausage, bologna, salami and hot dogs. Many processed meats – even those with “reduced fat” labels – are high in calories and saturated fat. Such foods are often high in sodium, too. Read labels carefully and choose to eat processed meats only occasionally.

Eat more fish

Fish can be fatty or lean, but it’s still low in saturated fat. Eat at least 8 ounces of non-fried fish each week, which may be divided over two 3.5- to 4-ounce servings. Choose oily fish such as salmon, trout and herring, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Prepare fish baked, broiled, grilled or boiled rather than breaded and fried, and without added salt, saturated fat or trans fat. Non-fried fish and shellfish, such as shrimp, crab and lobster, are low in saturated fat and are a healthy alternative to many cuts of meat and poultry.

Research has shown the health benefits of eating seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially when it replaces less healthy proteins that are high in saturated fat and low in unsaturated fat. Including seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids as part of a heart-healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrest and the most common type of stroke (ischemic).

Eat less meat

Try meatless meals featuring vegetables or beans. For example, think eggplant lasagna, or, instead of a burger, consider a big grilled portobello mushroom on a bun. Maybe substitute low-sodium beans for beans-n-franks. Or, treat meat as a sparingly used ingredient, added mainly for flavor in casseroles, stews, low-sodium soups and spaghetti.

Cook fresh vegetables the heart-healthy way

Try cooking vegetables in a tiny bit of vegetable oil and add a little water during cooking, if needed. (Or use a vegetable oil spray.) Just one or two teaspoons of oil is enough for a package of plain frozen vegetables that serves four. Place the vegetables in a skillet with a tight cover and cook them over very low heat until done.

Add herbs and spices to make vegetables even tastier. (It’s a healthier choice than opting for pre-packaged vegetables with heavy sauce or seasonings.) For example, these combinations add subtle and surprising flavors:

  • Rosemary with peas, cauliflower and squash
  • Oregano with zucchini
  • Dill with green beans
  • Marjoram with Brussels sprouts, carrots and spinach
  • Basil with tomatoes

Start with a small quantity of herbs and spices (1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon for a package of frozen vegetables), then let your family’s feedback be your guide. Chopped parsley and chives, sprinkled on just before serving, can also enhance the flavor of many vegetables.

Use liquid vegetable oils in place of solid fats

Liquid vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean and olive oil can often be used instead of solid fats, such as butter, lard or shortening. If you must use margarine, try the soft or liquid kind. Use a little liquid oil to:

  • Pan-fry fish and poultry
  • Sauté vegetables
  • Make cream sauces and soups using low-fat or fat-free milk
  • Add to whipped or scalloped potatoes using low-fat or fat-free milk
  • Brown rice for Spanish, curried or stir-fried rice
  • Cook dehydrated potatoes and other prepared foods that call for fat to be added.
  • Make pancakes or waffles

Puree fruits and veggies for baking

Pureed fruits or vegetables can be used in place of oil in muffin, cookie, cake and snack bar recipes to give your treats an extra healthy boost. For many recipes, use the specified amount of puree instead of oil. Check the mix’s package or your cookbook’s substitutions page for other conversions. You can:

  • Use applesauce in spice muffins or oatmeal cookies
  • Include bananas in breads and muffins
  • Try zucchini in brownies

Lower dairy fats

When it comes to cheeses used in recipes, you can substitute low-fat, low-sodium cottage cheese, part-skim milk mozzarella (or ricotta) cheese, and other low-fat, low-sodium cheeses with little or no change in consistency.

Sauces and gravies

Let your cooking liquid cool, then remove the hardened fat before making gravy. Or, use a fat separator to pour off the good liquid from cooking stock, leaving the fat behind.

Increase fiber and whole grains

Consider these heart-smart choices:

  • Toast and crush (or cube) fiber-rich whole-grain bread to make breadcrumbs, stuffing or croutons
  • Replace the breadcrumbs in your meatloaf with uncooked oatmeal
  • Serve whole fruit at breakfast in place of juice
  • Use brown rice instead of white rice and try whole grain pasta
  • Add lots of colorful veggies to your salad – carrots, broccoli and cauliflower are high in fiber and give your salad a delicious crunch

11 foods that lower cholesterol

Foods that make up a low cholesterol diet can help reduce high levels

Updated: February 6, 2019Published: October, 2009

Changing what foods you eat can lower your cholesterol and improve the armada of fats floating through your bloodstream. Adding foods that lower LDL, the harmful cholesterol-carrying particle that contributes to artery-clogging atherosclerosis, is the best way to achieve a low cholesterol diet.

Add these foods to lower LDL cholesterol

Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.

1. Oats. An easy first step to lowering your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber. (The average American gets about half that amount.)

2. Barley and other whole grains. Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.

3. Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take a while for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices — from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond — and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food.

4. Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.

5. Nuts. A bushel of studies shows that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.

6. Vegetable oils. Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or at the table helps lower LDL.

7. Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.

8. Foods fortified with sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols extracted from plants gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate. They’re also available as supplements. Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.

9. Soy. Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once touted as a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Analyses show that the effect is more modest — consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day (10 ounces of tofu or 2 1/2 cups of soy milk) can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.

10. Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.

11. Fiber supplements. Supplements offer the least appealing way to get soluble fiber. Two teaspoons a day of psyllium, which is found in Metamucil and other bulk-forming laxatives, provide about 4 grams of soluble fiber.

Putting together a low cholesterol diet

When it comes to investing money, experts recommend creating a portfolio of diverse investments instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. The same holds true for eating your way to lower cholesterol. Adding several foods to lower cholesterol in different ways should work better than focusing on one or two.

A largely vegetarian “dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods” substantially lowers LDL, triglycerides, and blood pressure. The key dietary components are plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains instead of highly refined ones, and protein mostly from plants. Add margarine enriched with plant sterols; oats, barley, psyllium, okra, and eggplant, all rich in soluble fiber; soy protein; and whole almonds.

Of course, shifting to a cholesterol-lowering diet takes more attention than popping a daily statin. It means expanding the variety of foods you usually put in your shopping cart and getting used to new textures and flavors. But it’s a “natural” way to lower cholesterol, and it avoids the risk of muscle problems and other side effects that plague some people who take statins.

Just as important, a diet that is heavy on fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts is good for the body in ways beyond lowering cholesterol. It keeps blood pressure in check. It helps arteries stay flexible and responsive. It’s good for bones and digestive health, for vision and mental health.

For more information, read “How to lower your cholesterol without drugs.”

image: Giovanni Boscherino |

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