When it comes to heart health and cholesterol we often talk about what we shouldn’t eat. You want to stay away from processed flours, breads, bagels, crackers, cakes and sugary foods, all of which cause secretion of insulin, setting the stage for heart disease.
But what often don’t get talked about are the foods that can lower your cholesterol and improve your heart health. Here are three foods that should be on every grocery list.
1. Flaxseed is a perfect food for cholesterol control. It contains essential fatty acids, high-quality protein, vitamins, precious phytonutrients, and lignans, as well as soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, all of which promote healthy cholesterol. In fact, research on soluble fiber shows that total cholesterol can be reduced by 11 percent and LDL cholesterol by 18 percent over a two- to three-week period. Getting all of these benefits is as simple as eating two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed a day.
2. Soy: a potent cholesterol killer. A summary of 38 studies reported in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated soy’s impressive ability to lower LDL cholesterol while simultaneously increasing HDL cholesterol. Isoflavones in soy (such as genistein and daidzein) control oxidized LDL and the subsequent build-up of artery-clogging plaque. As a side benefit, isoflavones also help alleviate menopausal symptoms. The best sources of soy are soy milk, soybeans, and tofu. When you combine soy with flaxseed, you have even more power over your cholesterol.
3. Oats are a powerful heart-healthy food. Research shows that beta glucan, a water-soluble fiber in oatmeal, oat bran, and oats, helps lower cholesterol. (This is the reason oat cereals can make their heart-healthy claims.) As I discussed earlier, fiber forms a gel-like material that inhibits the absorption of cholesterol. It’s an established fact that heart patients who eat two ounces of oat bran daily for six weeks can expect up to a 10-percent reduction in their cholesterol.
Now it’s your turn: Which of these foods do you eat?