3 foods to eat and 3 foods to avoid to maintain healthy cholesterol

Cholesterol levels tend to increase with age, and healthy eating can reduce your levels.

In general, men are at a higher risk than women for higher cholesterol, according to Healthline. But after a woman enters menopause, her risk increases.

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High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 38% of Americans have high cholesterol. Diet greatly impacts cholesterol.

Here is what you should include in your diet, and what you should avoid in order to keep your cholesterol down.

3 foods to include in your diet

Soluble fibers such as oatmeal, beans, barley, berries and apples are great to keep your cholesterol down. Soluble fibers bind to cholesterol in your lower intestine, stop the cholesterol from entering your bloodstream and allow the cholesterol to instead exit the body through feces.

Fatty fish, like salmon or mackerel, have a lot of omega-3 that boosts “good cholesterol” and lowers inflammation and the risk of stroke. Good cholesterol, also known as high-density lipoprotein, captures cholesterol, carries it to the liver and flushes it from the body, according to the CDC.

Healthy unsaturated fats are good to add to your diet. According to independent nonprofit HelpGuide, these fats fill you up so you’re not overeating and reduce cholesterol while boosting HDL. Healthy fats include foods like olives, nuts, avocados, flaxseed, tofu, olive oil and canola oil.

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3 foods to avoid

Red meat such as beef, pork and lamb have high contents of saturated fat. Saturated fats can cause a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. While you do not have to cut out red meat entirely, reducing your consumption can reduce the buildup of cholesterol.

Fast food and processed foods are filled with low-density lipoprotein, which is also known as bad cholesterol. Consuming fast food can increase weight, belly fat and the amount of LDL in your body.

Sugar is one of the main foods you should avoid because it lowers the HDL in your body and is filled with LDL. Sugar has a negative impact on weight and can increase the risk of diabetes.

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