So many times when we hear dietitians or physicians talk about major health concerns due to wrong eating habits; we hear the words cholesterol and blood pressure. Here is an insight into what cholesterol is all about, and foods that lower cholesterol.

First of all, we need to know what cholesterol is. Cholesterol is a lipid found in the cell membranes of our tissues. Cholesterol is produced by the liver and transported in the blood plasma. The thing to be remembered about cholesterols is that there are two types of cholesterols –the good cholesterol and the bad cholesterol. The bad cholesterol is the low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which tends to build up on the walls of arteries that provide blood supply to heart and brain. This happens if excess amounts of LDL are circulated through blood. The good cholesterol or the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) helps to remove the bad cholesterol from the arteries and thus prevents blockage of arteries and further complications.

Hence it is clear that cholesterol has a deep impact on our health and the optimum cholesterol ratio (calculated as total cholesterol / HDL cholesterol) should be 3.5 or at least less than 5. Thus, the food that we need to consume to maintain healthy cholesterol levels should be such that they decrease the bad cholesterol and increase or maintain the good cholesterol levels. Here are some of the best and healthiest food options that can potentially lower your bad cholesterol and help you lead a healthy life.

Oats and other whole grains

Whole grains are known to contain high amounts of soluble fiber, which are essential for reducing bad cholesterol. In addition to oatmeal, oat bran and other whole grains, the other sources of soluble fiber that helps to lower the low-density lipoproteins are kidney beans, Brussels’s sprouts, pears, apples and prunes. The soluble fiber binds to the bile and helps in its elimination via excretion. It is seen that five to ten grams of fiber intake per day can reduce about 5% of LDL cholesterol. So make sure you include wholesome amounts of oats, whole grains, and soluble fiber sources to keep a check on your bad cholesterol.

Walnuts and Almonds

Walnuts and almonds are great foods that reduce your bad cholesterol levels. Walnuts are also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids that make the blood vessels healthy and elastic. However the walnuts and almonds need to be consumed in moderation since too much intake can cause a problem. Use a handful of walnuts or almonds in your daily meal, either as munching or as a addition to raw salads, and cooked vegetables.

Garlic

Research says that garlic has blood thinning properties and play a major role in reducing levels of bad cholesterol or low density lipoproteins. Garlic contains a substance called allicin, which supposedly prevents the retention of LDL cholesterol by the body. It is shown that consumption of one clove of garlic per day can lessen the LDL levels by almost ten to fifteen percent.

Blueberries

Blueberries contain a compound known as pterostilbene (which is also seen in several varieties of grapes). This compound helps to lower cholesterol very efficiently. In addition to that blueberries contain wholesome amounts of vitamin C and are great antioxidants.

These foods that lower cholesterol should be included in adequate quantities in your diet to ensure your bad cholesterol levels are brought down. Always eat healthy, exercise and keep smiling!