However, at the top of that list of advice, we usually find that we should cut back on saturated fats and eat more healthy fats in their place. So if we're just getting started, which box do we tick off first? According to experts, the answer is to modify our diets towards one that is plant-based rather than placing so much focus on saturated fats.
A plant-based diet, you might imagine, contains lots of fruits and veggies. No surprises there. What you may overlook is that you're also meant to include plenty of whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, and obviously avoid (or if you're just starting, limit) meat consumption.
As you can see, simply eating what the earth gives us in this way ticks off plenty of the above noted points for lowering cholesterol. Not only are we cutting back on saturated fats, we're also including plenty of fibre, particularly soluble fibre, as well as healthy fats like omega-3s from the whole grains, nuts and seeds.
An added bonus is that it is easier to slim down and shed those excess pounds by eating this way, since people tend to feel full and more satisfied for longer, thanks to the high water, fibre and protein content of the foods combined with good amounts of those healthy fats. Not bad for one relatively simple change!
In addition, to make things even easier and to have a bigger impact on slashing those cholesterol figures, experts swear by the benefits of new cholesterol-lowering foods. For example, we now have cholesterol-lowering yogurts and margarines made with plant sterols on the market that significantly lower LDL, or bad cholesterol figures, in clinical trials.
In new research, adding foods like those enhanced ones, plus nuts, soy products, foods with soluble fibre like psyllium husk, chia seeds, eggplant, okra and cereal grains like oats and barley can lower one's LDL cholesterol by upwards of 14% after 24 weeks! That drop is as significant as taking commonly prescribed statin medications.
While medication is an important and valuable option for people with high cholesterol, we know that changing one's diet can be just as powerful in many cases. People should not stop taking their medication unless they have spoken with their physician and their cholesterol levels are within a reasonable range with dietary changes alone.
Give it a try, even if your cholesterol levels are good, and watch your health improve in so many ways!