We all want to lower our cholesterol, and it seems that our doctors are constantly making recommendations for us to exercise, eat better, and perhaps even take medication. Of course, we could easily list some of the best foods to lower cholesterol (and we will), but it’s important to note that, for many of us, it’s not enough simply to eat right and watch the old waistline. If you suffer from familial hypercholesterolemia, diet will have a minimal effect on your overall cholesterol management. Still, every little bit helps, so whether you’re battling the effects of FH or just trying to pull your borderline cholesterol out of the danger zone, here are some foods that you’ll definitely want to add to your shopping list.
Whole grains like barley, oats and oat bran have been shown to lower cholesterol thanks to the ample amounts of soluble fiber that they possess. Other fiber-rich favorites include beans, okra and eggplant, all of which are low in calories and high in nutrients. Try incorporating these delicious and nutritious foods into your diet when gathering the best foods to lower cholesterol.
The Enemies of LDL
When assessing the best foods to lower cholesterol, remember that not all cholesterols are created equal. You have your good cholesterols (HDL) and your bad cholesterols (LDL). Proper cholesterol management is about keeping the LDL cholesterol under control. Numerous foods are renowned for their ability to reduce LDL cholesterol, including liquid vegetable oils (such as canola and sunflower oils), fruits rich in pectin (such as apples, strawberries and oranges), fatty fish and soy products (such as tofu).
What Not to Eat
When it comes to cholesterol management, it’s important to also pay attention to the foods that you’re already eating. Many people, when determining what to eat, will mistakenly focus on the amount of cholesterol on the labels of packaged foods, but this is only a small part of the equation. It may surprise you to learn that saturated fats and trans fats have a much greater effect on your overall cholesterol level, so keep them to a minimum.
A Few Caveats for Individuals Living with Familial Hypercholesterolemia
As previously emphasized, diet alone is insufficient for individuals with familial hypercholesterolemia. If you count yourself among the hundreds of thousands living with this condition, it’s important to remember that lifestyle is important, but medication can quite often mean the difference between life and death. By paying careful attention to your medical needs while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can enjoy a perfectly normal and fulfilling quality of life, but it’s a daily battle. So stay strong and remain committed to your good health and eating the best foods to lower cholesterol, even if that means you have to skip the deep fried Oreos at the next county fair.
Content reviewed by Samuel S. Gidding, MD.