There are many heart-healthy foods and supplements along with the latest clinical study results. Among all the foods listed there, I have decided to pick the top 3 super foods which have been shown to lower cholesterol and can be included in a healthy diet on a regular basis.
Oat for Soluble Fiber
Oatmeal and oat bran are rich in soluble fiber, a type of fiber which lowers the bad Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol without lowering the good High Density Lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol. In 1997, the FDA authorized a heart disease risk reduction health claim for beta-glucan soluble fiber from oat products. Food products containing oat bran and rolled oats, such as oatmeal, and whole oat flour can bear this health claim.
How much do you need?
Five to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day decreases LDL cholesterol by about 5 percent. Some studies showed that this amount can lower cholesterol by as much as 23 percent. One bowl of oatmeal contains about 3 grams of soluble fiber. Include other soluble-fiber- rich foods such as psyllium, apples, kidney beans, pears and barley.
Nuts for Healthy Fats
Nuts rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium. These tasty snacks are also high in plant sterols and fat - but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have all been shown to lower the bad LDL cholesterol.
How much do you need?
In 2003, the FDA recognized the benefits of nuts and their role in heart disease prevention by approving a health claim for seven kinds of nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts). Limit your intake to ~ 1.5 ounces a day, as nuts are high in calories. The best way to reap the health benefits of nuts is to eat them in replacement of foods that are high in saturated fats such as meat products.
Soya products are great substitutes for animal products. In 1999, the FDA recognized the health benefits of soy and heart disease by approving a soya health claim. However, due to conflicting results from a large-scale review performed by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the AHA Nutrition Committee no longer recommends eating soy to lower cholesterol.
Should you avoid soya then? A simple answer is No. Although soy may not lower cholesterol to the extent we previously thought it could, the US Agency review showed that it can still lower bad LDL cholesterol by 3 percent. Since soya products contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and low levels of saturated fat, AHA does consider soy products a healthy replacement for meats and other foods high in saturated fat and total fat.