According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans suffers from high blood cholesterol, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke.
Eating plenty of fatty foods and red meat is the usual cause of high cholesterol. However, this health condition does not present symptoms. For this reason, stroke or heart attack often seems sudden when either occurs.
Fortunately, you can easily reverse high cholesterol and minimize your CVD risk by increasing your consumption of certain dietary nutrients. Here are six nutrients that are known to help lower cholesterol levels: (Related: How naturopathy helps with controlling cholesterol.)
Niacin, or vitamin B3, helps raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. HDL, commonly referred to as the “good” cholesterol, helps remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) from the bloodstream. LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, can form plaques along the walls of the arteries and clog them, raising the risk CVD and stroke.
Niacin is abundant in the following foods:
- Chicken liver
- Chicken breast
- Grass-fed beef
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
- Green peas
- Fatty fish (tuna, salmon and anchovies)
Red yeast rice contains monacolin K, a plant compound said to be identical to the active component of the cholesterol-lowering drug, lovastatin. Red yeast rice can be taken as a supplement to help reduce blood cholesterol levels and improve heart health.
Phytosterols, or plant sterols, are compounds found in the cell membranes of plants. They have a similar structure to human cholesterol and can help reduce LDL and overall cholesterol levels when ingested. These plant-based foods provide high amounts of phytosterols:
- Red onion
- Brussels sprouts
During digestion, soluble fiber from the foods you eat dissolves in water and is broken down into a gel-like substance in the colon. This gel-like substance slows digestion and traps LDL cholesterol, preventing it from entering the bloodstream and traveling to various parts of the body.
According to recent studies, consuming five to 10 grams of soluble fiber every day can reduce cholesterol by five percent.
The following foods contain significant amounts of soluble fiber:
- Brussels sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
- Sunflower seeds
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
CoQ10 is a nutrient naturally produced by the body and used for the production of cellular energy. It is hailed for its antioxidant properties and its ability to significantly reduce cholesterol levels.
Some studies suggest that taking CoQ10 supplements can help reduce the adverse side effects of statins, a class of lipid-lowering drugs. Such side effects include weakness, muscle aches and joint pains.
CoQ10 can be found in several foods, such as:
- Organ meats (heart, liver and kidney)
- Grass-fed beef
- Sesame seeds
- Fatty fish (trout, herring and mackerel)
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition revealed that ginger extract significantly reduces LDL cholesterol and helps prevent the development of atherosclerotic lesions.
In a more recent study, researchers from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran also found that ginger helps reduce total cholesterol levels and improves the lipid profile of diabetic patients.
Eating more of the right nutrients as part of a balanced diet helps naturally reduce cholesterol levels and keep both CVD and stroke at bay.
Learn more about how to take care for your heart and maintain normal cholesterol levels at Heart.news.