High Cholesterol levels heighten the risk of heart disease. World Heart Federation says high total cholesterol affects around 39% of adults globally. Also, 24% of cardiovascular diseases related deaths are due to high LDL (low-density lipoprotein). While buying medication with a pharmacy discount card might be the immediate go-to solution, there’s a natural contender that’s been gaining traction: the plant-based diet.
A plant-based diet can help to lower high cholesterol levels. It is a pathway to good health. But only one adult out of 10 eats sufficient fruits and vegetables. In people who follow a plant-based diet, their LDL, often known as bad cholesterol, is lower, and their total cholesterol level is also in a healthy range.
If you want to explore plant-based diets and how they lower high cholesterol levels, continue to read this blog. It has explained everything one should know about a plant-based diet and its benefits. But before entering the world of plant-based diets, let’s understand cholesterol basics.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in each body cell and performs essential functions like cell membrane construction, hormone synthesis, and vitamin D production. However, when a balance between “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL) and “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL) gets disrupted, an unsettling situation starts emerging.
The increased level of bad cholesterol in the body leads to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which hinders blood flow and elevates the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Is it possible to lower high cholesterol levels with food?
Eating habits affect cholesterol levels drastically. People who take a diet that is rich in cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats increase the cholesterol levels in the body and raise the heart attack risk. Foods like dairy products, meat, and eggs are high in saturated fats. Saturated fats are bad for you because they activate the body to produce extra cholesterol.
On the other hand, plants have low amounts of saturated fats and no cholesterol. Plants contain soluble fiber, which helps lower the cholesterol amount that the liver produces. Checking with a healthcare professional to closely monitor your health when you make any dietary changes is crucial.
Which diet is best for lowering cholesterol?
If you’ve high cholesterol, it’s time to change your diet. Several studies indicated that plant-based diets effectively keep cholesterol levels healthy. In 2007, researchers investigated 49 studies that compared plant-based diets with omnivorous diets to check their influence on cholesterol. Compared to omnivorous diets, plant-based diets reduce total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL by 15% to 30%.
Choosing a low-fat, plant-based diet and other healthy lifestyle transformations can reduce heart disease risk.
The Power of Plants: Plant-Based Diets
Plant-based diets include veggies, fruits, nuts, whole grains, seeds, and legumes. This popular diet has the potential to fight high cholesterol levels and bring them down to the normal range.
Here’s how they work their magic:
1. Low in Saturated Fats:
Products like red meat and high-fat dairy are high in saturated fats, which can elevate LDL cholesterol levels. Plant-based diets naturally cut down on these sources of saturated fats, promoting heart health.
2. Rich in Soluble Fiber:
Soluble fiber acts as a sponge for cholesterol in the digestive system, preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. People who include special cholesterol-lowering foods like oats, beans, lentils, and fruits in their plant-based diet can lower their bad cholesterol by nearly 30% in a month.
3. Phytochemicals to the Rescue:
Plants have compounds with antioxidant properties that can fight inflammation and oxidative stress, which play a role in heart diseases.
4. Healthy Fats:
While plant-based diets minimize saturated fats, you can include sources of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Intake of healthy fats is crucial to boost HDL cholesterol levels and to make your cholesterol profile healthy.
Scientific Backing: Plant-Based Diets and Cholesterol
Numerous studies have delved into the connection between plant-based diets and cholesterol levels, producing promising findings:
1. The Portfolio Diet Study:
The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that a diet rich in plant sterols, soy protein, viscous fibers, and nuts was as effective as statin medications in reducing LDL cholesterol levels.
2. Long-Term Effects:
A long-term study published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases discovered that individuals adhering to a plant-based diet for over a year experienced sustained reductions in total cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
3. Meta-Analysis Findings:
A meta-analysis of multiple studies published in the journal Nutrition Reviews concluded that plant-based diets were associated with lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and non-HDL cholesterol levels, all contributing to cardiovascular health.
4. Embracing Plant-Based Delights:
Transitioning to a plant-based diet doesn’t mean bidding farewell to delicious meals. It’s an invitation to explore a vibrant world of flavors and textures:
5. Hearty Breakfast:
Kickstart your day with a bowl of oatmeal topped with berries, chia seeds, and a sprinkle of chopped nuts. Oats have high soluble fiber, which helps to reduce LDL.
6. Power-Packed Lunch:
Whip up a colorful salad with leafy greens, assorted vegetables, quinoa, and a zesty vinaigrette. Add a handful of chickpeas for plant-based protein and fiber.
7. Savory Dinners:
Savor a stir-fry with tofu, broccoli, bell peppers, and a tangy ginger-soy sauce. Tofu is high in protein with no saturated fats.
8. Delightful Snacks:
Try air-popped popcorn seasoned with nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor without the cholesterol. Nutritional yeast is also a rich source of vitamin B12 for plant-based eaters.
9. Sweet Indulgence:
Treat yourself to a bowl of mixed fruit salad drizzled with honey and a sprinkle of crushed walnuts. This antioxidant-rich dessert can satisfy your sweet tooth guilt-free.
We have explored the undeniable benefits of plant-based diets for lowering high cholesterol levels. A healthy plant-based diet containing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts promotes overall well-being and reduces heart disease risk. If anyone finds switching to an entirely vegetarian diet challenging, they can choose a Mediterranean diet. This diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and low-fat dairy products, with a few eggs and little meat occasionally.
It is essential to remember that a person’s response to a plant-based diet can differ. Therefore always check with your healthcare provider if you have any pre-existing medical condition and you want to make any diet changes.
Although purchasing medication with a WiseRx pharmacy discount card can help you beat rising cholesterol levels, shifting towards a plant-based diet that naturally controls cholesterol levels is better.