When most people think of cholesterol, they think of the bad, heart-clogging type of cholesterol. After all, the American Heart Association says that a person’s daily cholesterol levels should be kept lower than 300 mg per day to keep the heart healthy. Not all cholesterol is evil, though. In fact, there are “good” types of cholesterol called HDL that protect you from a heart attack. There are many good foods you can eat to raise your levels of HDL and to lower your “bad” LDL and triglyceride cholesterol.
Foods Rich in Niacin
According to the Mayo Clinic, foods rich in niacin can raise the levels of HDL in the body. Niacin is a type of B vitamin and can be found in foods like dairy products, fish, eggs, nuts, poultry and other lean meats. Eating these types of foods on a regular basis can raise your good cholesterol levels by 15 to 35 percent. Consult with your doctor to find out how much niacin your body needs per day.
It may go against all that you know about heart health, but some margarines can actually be good for your heart says a 2009 study done by the McGill University School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition. These types of spreads are called sterol margarines, and when eaten in small amounts on a regular basis, they can lower bad cholesterol. In fact, people who eat this type of spread one to three times a day may lower their cholesterol by 36 to 39 percent, according to the McGill study. Sterol margarines are readily available at most major supermarkets right next to regular butter and margarine spreads.
Foods High in Fiber
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends eating a diet high in soluble fiber to lower LDL cholesterol. Fiber also keeps the cholesterol in foods from being absorbed into your body. Foods such as oranges, pears, oats, carrots, dried peas, Brussels sprouts and beans are all good sources of soluble fiber.
Foods Containing Omega-3
Inuit Eskimos have lower bad cholesterol and higher good cholesterol than other cultures, according to a 2001 study done by the CHUL Research Center’s Public Health Research Unit published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” This is because their diet consists of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. You can mimic their lifestyle by eating walnuts and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, sardines and mackerel.