According to the South Beach Diet's Dr. Arthur Agatston, there are seven foods that can help lower your cholesterol levels, and I thought I would pass the list along during National Cholesterol Education Month. So eat from this list -- often -- and you might be giving yourself more than great-tasting meals.
Wild Salmon (and other omega-3-rich fish)
Cold-water fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild salmon, herring, mackerel, light tuna, anchovies, and sardines, can help lower bad LDL cholesterol when substituted for saturated and trans fats in the diet. Dr. Agatston recommends eating fish two or three times a week. He also cites studies that show including this type of seafood in a diet can also help reduce blood pressure and inflammation and play a positive role in improving mood and memory loss. One caveat from me: Mercury contamination is high in many fish, and although we eat fish about four times a week, we choose low-mercury fish for two of those meals. I do supplement with Omega 3 fish capsules daily, and make sure I buy ones that go through the process of removing the mercury.
I have no problem adding cruciferous veggies to my diet -- broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale -- all packed with antioxidants that can help reduce cholesterol, help lower blood pressure, promote healthy eyesight, and improve gastrointestinal function.
Beans and legumes
All beans and legumes are loaded with filling protein and soluble and insoluble fiber, help lower bad LDL cholesterol, improve digestion, and the fiber helps reduce blood-glucose levels. I add beans to my lunch salad daily -- along with some chicken strips -- to up the protein level. It really makes for a meal that keeps me sated for hours.
Oats and whole grains
All whole grains, including wheat, wild rice, barley, quinoa, oats, millet, and barley, contain soluble fiber, which helps block the body’s absorption of cholesterol. Eating high-fiber whole grains also aids in stabilizing blood sugar and regulating insulin production, helping to lower your risk of diabetes.
Nuts and seeds
Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and other nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein, heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. When substituted for saturated fat in your diet, nuts and seeds can help reduce total cholesterol as well as bad LDL cholesterol without affecting levels of good HDL cholesterol. Dr. Agatston recommends limiting daily intake to about 1 ounce (1/4 cup).
Powerful antioxidants -- polyphenols -- found in black, white, green, and oolong tea can help lower bad LDL cholesterol. Studies show that oolong tea increases LDL particle size, helping to prevent it from burrowing into vessel walls.
Resveratrol, a plant-based chemical found in red grapes, may help lower LDL cholesterol and appears to protect against coronary artery disease, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Dr. Agatston suggests adding an occasional glass or two of red wine to your diet.