Today, everyone is more conscious of the need to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Exercising and eating right not only helps you be healthy, but also helps improve your quality of your life and gives you more energy, improved mental focus, and fewer illnesses.
Another important health concern is managing your cholesterol. Cholesterol is divided into “good” and “bad” portions. HDL (the good cholesterol) helps bring cholesterol away from blood vessel walls. LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol often deposits cholesterol into the blood vessels and it is this high LDL that’s been shown to be associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Managing your cholesterol helps manage your risk of heart disease and eating right is critical to maintaining this. Fruit is a tasty and easy way to eat correctly, so without further adieu, here are six fruits that have been shown to lower cholesterol.
1. Cranberries (and Cranberry Juice)
Cranberries are a wonderfully tart and sweet fruit. They can be eaten in salads, blended in smoothies, or even juiced! In fact, cranberry juice is so popular, it is one of the most frequently purchased fruit juice in supermarkets. Cranberry juice is known to have many health benefits, including helping with urinary tract infections. Recent studies have also indicated that cranberries are a good fruit to add to your diet when you are attempting to lower your bad cholesterol.
Cranberries also contain phytochemicals and are particularly high in polyphenols. Polyphenols have been shown to reduce inflammation and have a positive effect on cholesterol levels.
Grapes have long been a staple of the healthy Mediterranean diet and so has red wine, which is made from grapes. Grapes make a great snack, and wine has been thought to gladden the heart for thousands of years. It turns out this sentiment is correct. Wine can help reduce the risk of heart disease, but it must be consumed in moderation. Too much can raise blood pressure and cause liver damage, which clearly negates the value of wine.
Grapes contain a compound called pterostilbene that can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. One study indicated grape pterostilbene has an equal effect on the enzyme that regulates blood fat levels as drugs such as Lopid and Tricor. Those drugs are prescribed to people to help lower triglycerides and cholesterol.
Sweet and juicy, oranges are like sunshine in fruit form to people. Their refreshing and energizing flavor is why orange juice is such a popular way for people to begin their day. One medium orange gives you 2 to 3 grams of soluble fiber as well as vitamin C, folate, and potassium. They were long used to prevent scurvy, but now we know they are also useful in reducing cholesterol.
Oranges contain pectin – a soluble fiber that, when eaten, actually creates a mass in your stomach that traps cholesterol and removes it from your body before it can enter your bloodstream. The result? Lower levels of LDL cholesterol.
Berries are a delicious addition to any diet. It doesn’t matter whether they are blackberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries or strawberries, you are getting great taste along with a pack full of health benefits. Berries are versatile. They can be used with cereal, oatmeal, salads and coconut ice cream, and can be added to boost the flavor of smoothies. They are one of the best tasting foods on the planet, and they also happen to lower cholesterol.
Berries are low in fat and high in antioxidants. It is the naturally occurring phenolic compounds that have an antioxidant effect that reduces the build-up of LDL (bad cholesterol) in blood vessels.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away? There might be more truth to that than most people realize. Regular consumption of apples is beneficial for your health in a number of ways. They help lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol and they contribute to weight loss, which indirectly can lower cholesterol even further.
As with oranges, apples contain pectin so they also help absorb the bad cholesterol before it moves into your blood. Apples also contain polyphenols, an antioxidant compound that inhibits oxidation of LDL. When you eat an apple, be sure to leave the skin on, as the skin contains some of the most important nutrients.
Ever tried avocados on toast? People may scrunch their face up at the very thought, but others love it. Avocados are a source of monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that may actually help raise levels of HDL (good cholesterol), while lowering levels of LDL (bad cholesterol). They are also rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytosterols. Avocados are also packed with beta-sitosterol, which reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food. So the combination of beta-sitosterol and monounsaturated fat makes the avocado an excellent cholesterol buster.