Foods That Lower Cholesterol
Everybody knows that avoiding foods high in fat can help keep your cholesterol levels low; but did you know that some foods actively work to lower high cholesterol? The US FDA has identified several foods that have been shown to block or slow the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Adding these foods to your diet, in addition to making other healthy diet choices and getting regular exercise, can help to significantly reduce high cholesterol and lower your risk for heart disease.
High Fiber Foods Lower Cholesterol
It's not a good idea to skip breakfast on any diet plan. That's especially true if you're on a diet for high cholesterol. To lower cholesterol, pass on the bacon and eggs and grab some quick energy with oats. Oatmeal, oat bran, and other high fiber foods can help lower those cholesterol numbers by slowing down the rate at which fats are absorbed into your blood stream. They also help to keep you regular, which is another cholesterol lowering benefit.
The US FDA recommends getting 5-10 grams of your daily fiber from oats or oat bran. You'll get the maximum benefit from rolled or steel cut oats, not instant oatmeal.
Health Benefits Of Olive Oil
Not all oil is bad for you. Evidence suggests that taking two tablespoons a day of virgin or extra virgin olive oil can reduce high blood cholesterol as well as your risk for coronary artery disease and heart attack. Studies have shown that the monounsaturated fat in olive oil can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol without affecting HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Keep in mind that all oils, including olive oil, are high in calories. At 120 calories per tablespoon, it's easy to overdo it. Instead of adding olive oil to your diet, try substituting it for some of the saturated fat you normally eat. You can use it in a salad dressing or as a healthy dip for bread or vegetables.
Plant sterols and stanols are hormones that occur naturally in fruits and vegetables. Many experts say that eating foods that contain sterols is an easy way to lower cholesterol levels without turning to cholesterol lowering drugs. The problem is that these compounds are found in very small quantities, making it difficult to get the recommended 2 grams a day.
Fortunately, food companies are recognizing the health benefits of plant sterols, and are adding them in larger amounts to some foods. You can get your 2 grams from 2 glasses of a sterol fortified orange juice, like Minute Maid's Heart Wise brand, as well as a few heart healthy brands of margarine, such as Take Control, or Benecol. Substituting these sterol-added foods for other, less healthy foods, is a simple dietary change that you won't even notice.
Many types of nuts contain beneficial fatty acids that can help lower high cholesterol and, in some cases, may even reduce high triglyceride levels. Eating two or three ounces of nuts a day can not only help lower cholesterol, but may improve your circulation and even offer a little weight loss help by boosting your metabolism.
Keep in mind that nuts are very high in calories, so don't eat more than the recommended daily allowance; and choose unsalted nuts or they could affect your blood pressure.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in many types of nuts, grains, and even some breakfast cereals; but the most abundant source of Omega-3's is fatty fish. Eating 2-3 servings per week of fatty fish, like trout, salmon, tuna or mackerel, can significantly lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are also believed to offer weight loss help, as well as lowering triglycerides, blood pressure and heart rate.
If you're not a fan of fish, there are several prescription and over the counter Omega-3 supplements available. If you choose to take an OTC supplement, be sure to read the label. A high quality fish oil supplement should contain both EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.
Controlling High Cholesterol
Adding some of these cholesterol lowering foods to your diet can help in controlling high cholesterol, but it won't do all of the hard work for you. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels will still require plenty of effort on your part.
It takes a combination of elements to maintain a healthy lifestyle. To keep cholesterol and triglyceride numbers low, choose foods that derive less than 30% of their calories from fat and avoid simple carbohydrates. Getting a regular cardio workout can help to boost metabolism and keep high blood cholesterol at bay. Adding weight training to your routine will promote lean muscle mass, which can accelerate fat burning and improve your overall heart health.
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