When people hear the word cholesterol, they typically think of a fatty, plaque-building substance that comes from the foods we eat. But the fact is that cholesterol is a substance that the body also produces naturally and plays a vital role in the body.
The total cholesterol in the body travels as part of the lipoprotein and performs functions like maintaining the integrity of cell membranes and synthesis of vitamin D, steroid hormones, and bile acids.
Lipoproteins carrying cholesterol are of various types, like LDL cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, known as “bad” cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, known as “good” cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. This is because high levels of LDL-C over time may cause fatty buildup on the walls of the arteries, called plaque. HDL cholesterol is considered good cholesterol, as it absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver eventually excreting it. Hence, it is crucial to keep track of HDL-C with normal ranges of min. 50 mg/dl and LDL-C maintained at less than 100 mg/dl.
Since the body can already synthesise cholesterol. One way to maintain normal cholesterol levels is to incorporate cholesterol-lowering foods into your heart-healthy diet plan. That being said, it is essential to add fruits to your diet that help you keep your cholesterol in check. Many of these fruits are tasty, readily available and affordable, making them easy to add to your heart-healthy diet plan.
Discover below the top 5 fruits to reduce cholesterol.
1. An apple a day keeps cholesterol at bay
There is a reason the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ got so famous. Eating apples once or twice a day can have a positive impact on your health. According to research, apples are particularly high in pectin which is a naturally soluble fibre. Dietary fibre is beneficial since it can bind with cholesterol in the digestive system, making it one of the best fruits to lower cholesterol. Apples also contain polyphenols that help reduce oxidation of cholesterol- and hence, have a protective action on the heart and manage heart diseases. Always remember to eat the apple with the peel since it contains pectin and polyphenols.
Recommended amount: Eating two apples a day is good for heart health. (source)
2. Citrus fruits – the way to go!
Citrus fruits are not only a daily dose of vitamin C- good for your immunity, but also among the best fruits to help reduce cholesterol. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and jackfruits are packed with vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which has a protective action by helping in reducing the free radical formation and hence, reducing LDL oxidation. Vitamin C can also enhance LDL recognition of LDL receptors benefitting the catabolism of LDL.
Oranges are known to contain pectin which helps reduces cholesterol absorption. (source) Studies have shown that adults who consume 100% orange juice may help in lowering total and LDL cholesterol levels. Additionally, the study also showed that males had a 23% reduced risk of low HDL concentrations, compared to non-consumers. Hence, oranges have beneficial properties for the heart and overall health.
Recommended amount: One or two servings of citrus fruits per day. (source)
3. Watermelons – beat the heat, protect the heart!
Watermelons are low in calories and high in fibre, which makes them a great addition to a heart-healthy diet. The fibre in watermelons can help lower cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol and reducing its absorption into the bloodstream.
The antioxidants in watermelons, such as lycopene, vitamin C and beta-carotene, can help reduce inflammation in the body and has a positive impact on heart health. (source)
Lastly, watermelons are a delicious and convenient way to stay hydrated, which is important for maintaining a healthy heart. However, people with diabetes must consume watermelons in moderation (100-150 gms at a time).
Recommended amount: One can consume between 100 to 150 gms of watermelon a day. (source)
4. Berries for the heart
These tasty delights are a rich source of antioxidants and are low in calories and fat. They contain anthocyanins, which can help manage cholesterol levels by reducing oxidative stress in the body. In the berries family, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries have the highest antioxidants, making them some of the best fruits to lower cholesterol. Blueberries help heart health by helping reduce blood pressure and contain anthocyanins that help reduce the oxidation of LDL. Ellagic acid found in strawberries can help neutralise free radicals and reduce LDL cholesterol oxidation, which may lower the risk of heart disease
Recommended amount: One serving (half cup) of berries per day (source)
5. Avocados – the perfect way to start the day
Avocados are great for your health because they contain more monounsaturated fats than saturated fats. This is because monounsaturated fats are considered to be a healthier type of fat compared to saturated fats. According to the National Institutes of Health, Monounsaturated fats can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while also increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
It is also high in a sterol called beta-sitosterol which may help lower cholesterol absorption. The dual combination of monounsaturated fats along with beta-sitosterol makes it a great LDL cholesterol-reducing fruit.
Besides consuming fresh whole fruits for cholesterol control, you must also consider cooking your meals with cooking oil that cares for your heart. Saffola Gold helps keep your cholesterol in check and it has a natural antioxidant oryzanol which is known to support immunity. Saffola Gold has a balance of MUFA and PUFA which is vital for good health.
Recommended amount: 1/3 of a medium avocado (50 grams) per day. (source)
While fruits are an important component of a healthy diet. A heart-healthy balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can provide the essential nutrients and soluble fibre needed for good heart health. In addition to a healthy diet plan, regular physical activity can also play a crucial role in reducing the risk of CVD. Engaging in regular physical activity can help improve heart health by reducing blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and maintaining a healthy weight. By incorporating these lifestyle changes, you can help keep your heart healthy!