Conscious eating is one of the most complex forms of mindset shifting for modern consumers. The root cause is a popular misconception that healthy foods aren’t tasty. Today we are bombarded with a minefield of unhealthy and processed foods. A diet that includes processed foods is bound to be high in sugar and saturated fat, which raises our cholesterol levels. A spike in our bad cholesterol, i.e. LDL levels, clogs our arteries over time, greatly increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Interestingly, plant-based diets are cholesterol-free, extremely low in saturated fat, and contain soluble fiber. A daily intake of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that contain sterols can help lower LDL cholesterol by 5-10%. Additionally, eating a balanced and nutritious diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, lentils, whole grains, nuts, and seeds can meet our body’s daily nutritional needs. Here is a roundup of some plant-based foods that help us lower our cholesterol levels.
The internet’s favorite fruit has more to offer than meets the eye. The presence of oleic acid in avocados helps lower bad cholesterol in our bloodstream without harming our taste buds.
Nuts like almonds and walnuts contain many polyunsaturated fatty acids that help lower our LDL levels. Additionally, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds are also helpful as they contain omega-3 fatty acids. To avoid a high caloric intake, they must be consumed in moderation and snacked.
Now that we’ve gone nuts for nuts, it’s time to switch to delicious whole grains that also help lower our LDL levels by decreasing the absorption of cholesterol into our bloodstream. Brown rice, muesli and quinoa are phenomenal options that we can include in our daily diet.
Apples, berries, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons contain a type of fiber called pectin, which lowers cholesterol. Plus, fruit is an excellent source of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
As children, finishing all the vegetables on our plate at every meal became mandatory. This is because vegetables are rich in everything that is good for us and are a great way to lower cholesterol. Additionally, eggplant and okra are high in soluble fiber and antioxidants.
Consuming 25 grams of soy protein daily actively lowers our cholesterol levels. Replacing skim milk with soy milk for our daily needs is also a great way to get the necessary 25 grams.
Lentils are part of the staple diet of every Indian household. They improve our cardiovascular health and are low in fat and high in fiber and protein.
Say yes to beta-glucans found in oats, barley and mushrooms. This particular type of fiber is very effective in lowering cholesterol levels.
Switching to a plant-based lifestyle is a healthier choice for us as well as the environment. However, it’s also important to remember that just because something is plant-based doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthy. Chances are that things like fake meats, plant-based packaged goods that claim to be healthy alternatives are actually ultra-processed, high in calories and fat, which in turn are very unhealthy alternatives. Tropical oils like coconut and palm are also prohibited. Thus, we must check the packaging of our favorite vegetable ice cream or protein bar for the presence of sugar and tropical oils before buying them. Likewise, baked goods and processed sweets, even though they contain plant-based ingredients, are harmful to our body. They include trans fats, which raise our LDL (bad cholesterol) while lowering our HDL (good cholesterol).
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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