(HealthCastle.com) The Heart Smart Diet section of our web site is very popular with our readers. It lists many heart-healthy foods and supplements along with the latest clinical study results. Among all the foods listed there, I have decided to pick the top five super foods which have been shown to lower cholesterol and can be included in a healthy diet on a regular basis.
Top 5 Super Foods to lower cholesterol
Oat for Soluble Fiber
Oatmeal and oat bran are rich in soluble fiber, a type of fiber which lowers the bad Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol without lowering the good High Density Lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol. In 1997, the FDA authorized a heart disease risk reduction health claim for beta-glucan soluble fiber from oat products. Food products containing oat bran and rolled oats, such as oatmeal, and whole oat flour can bear this health claim.
How much do you need? Five to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day decreases LDL cholesterol by about 5 percent. Some studies showed that this amount can lower cholesterol by as much as 23 percent. One bowl of oatmeal contains about 3 grams of soluble fiber. Include other soluble-fiber-rich foods such as psyllium, apples, kidney beans, pears and barley.
Fish for Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Fish is a good source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids - which has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. In particular, omega 3 fatty acids are noted for its triglyceride-lowering power.
How much do you need? In 2002, the American Heart Association recommended eating at least 2 servings of fish a week, particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout and herring. If you have high triglyceride levels, AHA recommends 2 to 4 g of EPA and DHA (two specific types of omega 3 oil) as supplements under your doctor's care.
Nuts rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium. These tasty snacks are also high in plant sterols and fat - but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have all been shown to lower the bad LDL cholesterol.
How much do you need? In 2003, the FDA recognized the benefits of nuts and their role in heart disease prevention by approving a health claim for seven kinds of nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts). Limit your intake to ~ 1.5 ounces a day, as nuts are high in calories. The best way to reap the health benefits of nuts is to eat them in replacement of foods that are high in saturated fats such as meat products.
Foods fortifed with Plant Sterols Plant sterols or stanols are powerful substances naturally found in plant to have the ability to block cholesterol absorption. Studies showed that eating two servings of sterols-fortified foods daily result in a 10 to 15 percent drop in LDL cholesterol levels.
How much do you need? The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that people who have high cholesterol eat 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day. You can find plant sterols in fortified foods such as margarine spread, orange juice, salad dressings, functional cookies etc. Most sterols-fortified foods contain at least 1 gram of plant sterols per serving. Please read the portion size and usage direction on the labels for details. It is important to note that plant sterols are not for everyone. The AHA recommends it only for people with high levels of LDL cholesterol.
Soy Soy products are great substitutes for animal products. In 1999, the FDA recognized the health benefits of soy and heart disease by approving a soy health claim. However, due to conflicting results from a large-scale review performed by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the AHA Nutrition Committee no longer recommends eating soy to lower cholesterol.
Should you avoid soy then? A simple answer is No. Although soy may not lower cholesterol to the extent we previously thought it could, the US Agency review showed that it can still lower bad LDL cholesterol by 3 percent. Since soy products contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and low levels of saturated fat, AHA does consider soy products a healthy replacement for meats and other foods high in saturated fat and total fat.
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or dietitian. Information and statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.