Top 4 foods for high cholesterol

Top 4 foods for high cholesterol

Team ErbologyErbology

High cholesterol is one of the top risk factors for cardiovascular disease. A sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol and poor eating habits can all contribute to elevated cholesterol. But what are the best foods to eat for high cholesterol?

May 29, 2022 4:24 pm

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a substance found in your blood. Our liver naturally produces cholesterol and all humans have it in their bodies. Moreover, we need cholesterol because our body’s cells use it to perform various functions. In part, cholesterol comes from our diet. When someone has high cholesterol, this means there are above normal levels of these substances circulating in the bloodstream. This is cause for concern and calls for intervention. In fact, having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease including risk of heart attacks and strokes. 

The good and the bad

There is an important difference between types of cholesterol. In fact, most of us have heard about “good” and “bad cholesterol”. It is too much of the “bad” cholesterol which can lead to health problems. The two main types of cholesterol are HDL and LDL, these stand for High-density lipoproteins and Low-density lipoproteins respectively. Lipoproteins refer to compounds made up of cholesterol and proteins. In fact, proteins carry cholesterol around the blood , thus the “coupling” of cholesterol and protein is called lipoprotein.

High-density lipoproteins (HDL) is colloquially called “good” cholesterol. HDL’s role is to remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood. In fact, it transports any cholesterol that your body doesn’t need back to your liver. Consequently, the liver breaks down this cholesterol which is then excreted from your body. 

Conversely, Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) is often referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol. Excess amounts of LDL can build up inside artery walls and clog them. This build up causes arteries to narrow thus increasing the risk of a cardiovascular event.The buildup of cholesterol inside artery walls is called atherosclerosis. 

If your total cholesterol levels are high, this means you have high levels of “bad” cholesterol in your blood. On the other hand, high levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol can regulate “bad” cholesterol” and remove it from your system.(1)

Related reading

“Oats contain a special type of fibre called beta-glucan which binds to cholesterol [...] daily oat consumption can reduce total and bad cholesterol by up to 10%.”

Modifiable vs non-modifiable risk factors 

There are various causes of high cholesterol and these can differ between individuals. Unfortunately some risk factors are out of our control, but fortunately others are very much modifiable. Focusing on the risk factors within our control is the best thing you can do to lower your risk of developing high cholesterol or decreasing your cholesterol if your levels are already high.

Jerusalem artichoke

Focusing on what you can control…

The main modifiable risk factors are: eating too much saturated fat, leading a sedentary lifestyle and not getting enough exercise, and having excess body fat, especially around the waistline. Smoking is also a major modifiable risk factor that can cause high cholesterol. In fact, the build up of tar in the arteries can facilitate cholesterol sticking to artery walls. Overweight and diabetes can also increase the likelihood of developing high cholesterol. 

…and being aware of what you can’t

Conversely, there are non-modifiable risk factors for high cholesterol, these include: ageing, ethnic background, gender, kidney and liver disease, an underactive thyroid, and familial hypercholesterolaemia (a genetic, inherited form of high cholesterol that some people are born with). 

What is the Portfolio diet?

Fortunately there are a few ways that you can actively lower your cholesterol, these include exercising, quitting smoking if you currently smoke, and eating a healthy balanced diet, low in saturated fat. Let’s focus on the nutrition factor and discuss which foods can assist with high cholesterol.

Modifying your diet can lower your cholesterol levels. In particular, eating foods that lower the LDL cholesterol which contributes to atherosclerosis is one of the best strategies to fight high chol