The grocery store can be anxiety inducing enough without having to worry about a high cholesterol problem rearing its ugly head. So, if your quest for the perfect grocery list of low cholesterol foods is leaving you stumped, take a look at some of the tips below to still be able to create delectable dishes all while nurturing your health.
But first, why is it something to be concerned about?
What’s the Problem with High Cholesterol?
Found in most tissues that make up the human body, cholesterol is a lipid. We can produce cholesterol through our liver, but we can also ingest it through the foods that we eat. Having too many lipids in the blood can cause a host of health issues and precursors to problems that are potentially hard to notice until they become difficult to treat. This phenomenon is called hyperlipidemia.
If the level of cholesterol in your blood is too high, over time the substance, which is waxy in nature, will build up on the walls of your arties. This occurrence is something called atherosclerosis and can open up a host of health-related problems, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, a heart attack, or even death.
So now that the scary part is over, how do you make sure you’re choosing the correct foods to keep a creeping cholesterol problem at bay?
To perfect a grocery list of low cholesterol foods, its first important to understand that not all cholesterol is created equal. There are two types of cholesterol. One is called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and the other is called high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is widely considered to be the “bad” kind of cholesterol and is the main perpetrator in terms of clogging your arteries, while HDL actually works to clear excess cholesterol from the bloodstream. A lipoprotein essentially means a lipid has combined with a protein in order to be carried through the blood.
What’s Food Got to do with it, Really?
There are three different components of to consider when creating your grocery list of low cholesterol foods.
- Soluble Fiber
While both soluble and insoluble fiber are beneficial to your health, soluble fiber has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels by up to 18% when ingesting 30 grams daily. Because soluble fiber binds to the cholesterol before it can enter your system, it will exit the body via the colon instead oh begin its circulation through your blood.
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Types of Low Cholesterol Foods
Luckily, there is a huge selection of food available containing a hearty amount of soluble fiber and low cholesterol. Some popular ones include:
- Black and kidney beans
- Brussel sprouts and broccoli
- Sweet potatoes and carrots
- Oatmeal, flax, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds
- Apples, guava, and pears
Not only is there a wide selection, these choices come packed with a ton of other vitamins and minerals that will help keep your body in tip-top shape.
- Polyunsaturated Fats
It may sound counterintuitive, but interestingly enough polyunsaturated fats have shown a direct correlation to lowered levels of cholesterol. The mechanism of how this works is still not completely understood, but it’s thought that the liver will choose the polyunsaturated fats over the LDL cholesterol to process when given the choice, thus reducing the amount of saturated fatty acids being transported to the tissues.
Types of Foods with Polyunsaturated Fats
As previously mentioned, it’s good for you to consume fats – as a matter of fact they’re imperative for your body to function. it merely means switching out some of the unhealthy choices to make way for the good ones. Some foods that include polyunsaturated fats are:
- Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, bass, and trout.
- Plant-based oils like safflower, soybean, flaxseed, sunflower, and grapeseed.
- Nuts and Seeds like pine nuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and flax.
- Avocados contain a small amount of polyunsaturated fat, but they are high in monosaturated fat which is also good for you.
Plant Sterols (and Stanols)
Found in the membranes of a plethora of different plants, phytosterols are compounds that are so molecularly similar to cholesterol they will end up competing with it for absorption in your digestive system. In fact, studies have shown that with a dose of approximately 2 grams daily, overall cholesterol was lowered up to 10% and HDL (the bad stuff) was lowered up to 14%. Plant sterols occur in minor amounts in many nuts & seeds, fruits & vegetables, grains, and legumes. There are also a variety of foods fortified with plant sterols and stanols available on the market today, but it’s always better to choose natural, whole foods when given the option.
Types of Foods with Plant Sterols
As long as you’re eating an array of unprocessed foods, you can’t really go wrong here because as previously mentioned, plant sterols are found in trace amounts in most natural foods so it’s important to eat an assortment of different plant-based meals. Some foods containing higher than average levels include:
- Brussel sprouts and peas
- Sesame, safflower, cottonseed, and olive oils
- Kidney beans and lentils
- Pistachios, cashews, and macadamia nuts
- Bananas and oranges
The Bottom Line
There’s no reason you have to stop enjoying flavourful and hearty meals just because you have a new mission to shop off of a grocery list of low cholesterol foods. The key is to choose the least processed foods available – but the options are plentiful. Try to look up a few dishes you want to try and get excited about learning some new favourites to add to your meal rotation. Think switching from rice to cauliflower rice or experimenting with different types of bean dips and seafood marinades. Salads, soups, and stews can always be livened up as well! The options are endless.
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