Kale and quinoa salad in a bowl

From Sharp Health News, a publication of Sharp HealthCare

We know that diet contributes to helping maintain a healthy weight. But did you also know that diet can play an important role in helping to lower cholesterol and, in turn, reduce the risk of heart disease?

Cholesterol — a waxy substance that travels through the bloodstream — can limit blood flow and lead to heart attack or stroke. But not all cholesterol is bad. The good news is there are foods that can help lower cholesterol levels and improve other risk factors for heart disease:

High-fiber foods: Dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber from whole grains — such as oats, brown rice and quinoa — as well as whole fruits, vegetables and legumes (beans, peas and lentils) may help lower LDL cholesterol. Women should aim for at least 25 grams of fiber per day and men should aim for at least 38 grams of fiber.

Phytosterols: Most plant foods — fruits, vegetables, legumes, vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and whole grains — contain a small amount of a substance called plant sterols and stanols, also known as phytosterols, that may help lower LDL cholesterol.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Replacing saturated fats with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to reduce blood triglyceride, or fat, levels and increase HDL cholesterol levels. Omega-rich foods include:

  • Fish and other seafood — especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines
  • Nuts and seeds, such as flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts
  • Plant oils, such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil and canola oil
  • Fortified foods, such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages and infant formulas

It’s also important to limit your intake of foods high in saturated fat, as these can increase your LDL cholesterol and your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and obesity. Additionally, exercise is important in maintaining heart health.

The VEBA Resource Center offers many Cooking & Nutrition Classes. Join our dream team of foodies comprised of a chef, dietitian and medical doctor to learn how to blend the art of food and cooking with the science of medicine to optimize your overall health and wellness – all while having fun! Check out our calendar to sign up for an upcoming class.