Low-density lipoprotein (commonly called LDL) is measured in milligrams per deciliter, and the ideal level for human beings is under 100 mdl. Based on the findings of the American Heart Association, tracking LDL cholesterol is the single best way to gauge your risk of heart attacks and strokes — much more telling than total cholesterol levels. If you have high LDL cholesterol and you want to bring it down quickly, there are several changes you can make. Avoiding risk factors like smoking is important, as is getting plenty of exercise. Adding a few very helpful foods to your diet can also make a big difference.
Get More Fiber
Surprisingly, a diet that’s high in soluble fiber is one of the best tools for bringing down LDL cholesterol. Dietary fiber binds with cholesterol and moves it all the way through your digestive system without giving your body a chance to absorb it.
Foods that are rich in soluble fiber are whole grains like barley and oats. Some fruits provide pectin, a specific type of fiber that has further LDL-busting properties. Examples of beneficial fruits include apples, strawberries, grapes, and citrus.
Garlic And Fatty Fish
Substituting fatty fish (e.g. sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, and albacore tuna) for red meat in two or three meals every week can help bring down your LDL and triglyceride levels dramatically. Fish also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for promoting overall heart health.
Garlic has a unique property that deserves special interest: It stops LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. It was confirmed in an article from the Journal of Nutrition that it is oxidized LDL rather than raw LDL that poses a threat to your heart and circulatory system. This is why taking garlic supplements regularly can hold off atherosclerosis. By reducing the level of LDL oxidation occurring in the body, you can prevent the buildup of plaque which hardens the arteries.
Nuts And Oils
Certain healthy fats counteract high LDL levels, and these are mostly found in nuts and oils. It’s the fatty acids contained in these foods that give them their cholesterol-fighting powers. Eating food which contain nuts or oils that have similar fat profiles (e.g. canola oil) can significantly reduce both total and LDL cholesterol levels over time. The Linus Pauling Institute recommends five weekly one-ounce servings of nuts (or the equivalent oils) to minimize the risk of cardiovascular disease. Total oil intake from all sources (cooking oil, condiments, nuts, and fish) is supposed to be between five and seven teaspoons per day.
As noted above, soluble fiber is extremely beneficial. Taking supplements made from psyllium husk is one of the best ways to get more fiber and push your LDL levels down. According to a 2008 study published in Phytomedicine, just three weeks of regular psyllium husk use was enough to pull LDL cholesterol levels down. Enough research data has been gathered for scientists to confirm that using psyllium husk supplements is an effective form of therapy for people with moderately elevated levels of cholesterol.