Research shows that more than 5.5 million people are at risk for disease due to their high cholesterol levels. It is essential to always follow a varied diet that contains foods from all the different food groups. Here are some of the foods to control cholesterol.
Olive oil and olive products
Olive oil and olive products are a best way to reduce cholesterol since olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E. Research has shown that foods with high monounsaturated fatty acid content lower bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increase good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Have one or two tablespoons of olive oil a day over salads or use for cooking, and add some olives to salads.
Legumes include dry, cooked or canned beans, lentils, peas and all the soya products. Legumes have high dietary fibre content and are rich in protective nutrients, including minerals, B vitamins and phytonutrients. These nutrients protect the heart and the dietary fibre content lowers cholesterol and energy intake.
The South African Food-based Dietary Guidelines recommend that we should eat dry beans, peas, lentils and soya regularly. Make an effort to eat legumes at least three to four times a week, ideally every day.
Antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables
All fruits and vegetables can help to lower cholesterol and protect the heart. Two groups are particularly useful, namely those fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C, or rich in beta-carotene. Foods rich in vitamin C include all the citrus fruits and all berry fruits, guava, mango, the entire cabbage family, as well as sweet and chilli peppers.
Foods rich in beta-carotene include all dark yellow fruits and vegetables and all dark green vegetables.
Recommended intake: Five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
Garlic and other members of the onion family
Garlic has been used for centuries to promote good health. Research shows that members of the allium family, such as garlic, spring onions and other onions, can be used to lower cholesterol and protect the heart. Use garlic liberally in cooking and on fresh salads.
Researchers believe that the high garlic content of the so-called Mediterranean diet is one of the factors that make this diet so heart-friendly.
Researchers have discovered that people who eat fish three or more times a week are less likely to suffer from heart disease and high blood pressure. This is primarily due to the high omega-3 fatty acid content of fish.
The best fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout and sardines, but eating any type of fish will benefit your heart.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce atherosclerosis, blood fats, atherosclerotic plaques and blood pressure.