High cholesterol: The ingredient found in many foods that may ‘significantly’ lower levels

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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Characterised by a lack of symptoms, high cholesterol can be difficult to identify unless you get a blood test. What’s worse, this condition can cause severe health problems. That’s why it’s crucial to take control and keep your levels in check.

Although high cholesterol can be harmful, not all of it is bad.

The Mayo Clinic explains that your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells.

The tricky part of the substance is the one called “bad” or LDL cholesterol. This can boost your risk of heart problems.

Luckily, one ingredient found in a variety of foods can help lower your levels by “a small but important amount”, according to the Harvard Medical School.

The food in question is soya beans, with Heart UK labelling them as the “perfect” food for a healthy heart.

With the plant-based food market booming, the good news is that there’s a range of soya products that pack a flavour available in many supermarkets.

From marinated tofu to flavoured soya milk, there’s no need to stick purely to the beans.

In general, soya foods are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals while staying low in saturated fat.

When it comes to their cholesterol-lowering powers, soya’s effects are even documented by research.

One meta-analysis, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at 11 human studies to draw the conclusion on soya.

The researchers agreed that soya isoflavones – a subclass of plant compounds called flavonoids – were able to “significantly” reduce total cholesterol.

These effects were also observed in soya protein.

What’s more, the drop in “bad” cholesterol was especially pronounced for people who started the trials with high levels.

The study concluded that soya can help cut “bad” cholesterol while not changing the “good” type.

If you’re not aware, “good” cholesterol helps to remove other forms of cholesterol from your blood, the Mayo Clinic explains.

However, not all experts share this positive outlook on soya.

According to the American Heart Association, soya doesn’t significantly lower cholesterol.

But Mayo Clinic shares that swapping your animal-based products for soya could still be helpful.

This view is also shared by Heart UK. They said: “Soya products are a good option for replacing foods which are high in saturated fat such as meat, full-fat cream and dairy products, and snacks such as crisps.”

The charity recommends eating around two to three servings of soya foods daily. This can include soya milk, yoghurt, mince, tofu and more.

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