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Top 5 Cholesterol Lowering Foods
So you’ve just had your annual physical and you’ve found your cholesterol levels are elevated. Your doctor has suggested a simple change in diet before putting you on a life-long regiment of drugs. What do you do? You’re not a nutritionist; you’re used to a certain way of eating—how are you going to change your life-long habits to include heart healthy and cholesterol lowering foods?
Well the simple truth is you don’t have to make drastic changes to your lifestyle to help lower your cholesterol. By adding one or two unpretentious foods to your daily diet you can cut your cholesterol by 10 or more percent in as little as a week. The great thing about Ole’ Mother Nature; she provides us with all the foods we will ever need to both lower our “Bad,” or LDL cholesterol, as well as raise our “Good,” or HDL cholesterol levels. Now you are probably asking, “What are heart healthy foods?” In this article I have included five common everyday cholesterol lowering foods to help you get a handle on the matter in natural way. Your doctor can always prescribe medication if the diet does not do the trick for you.
Now this is my personal favorite. It’s easy to store, simple to fix, and is not only heart healthy, it’s good for you. And not just for those with cholesterol problems, but for the whole family. After all, in days gone by, before the major cereal manufactures created all the cereals that are loaded with sugar and laced with chemicals, our ancestors daily diets contained numerous items made with whole grains; wheat, oats and barley, and research has shown they suffered from an extremely low incidence of heart disease.
But why oatmeal, how does it work?
Research has shown that the soluble fibers in oatmeal, which by the way was one of the very first foods to carry the FDA’s ‘Heart Healthy Distinction’ on its label, bind with the LDL cholesterol molecules in the small intestine and carry them from the body. These same studies have revealed that overall levels can be lowered as much as ten percent with one bowl of oatmeal a day.
But watch the butter and whole milk you may add to your oatmeal—this will set you back to square one.
In particular cold water fatty fish—Salmon, Mackerel and Lake Trout. These fish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 found in fish not only has been shown to decrease levels of LDL, but increase HDL levels as well. It is believed HDL cholesterol binds with LDL and carries it to the liver for removal thus preventing it from being “attached” to the artery wall. It not only assist in lowering cholesterol levels, but also with the prevention of strokes, reduces chances of sudden death, and is great for brain health.
This unpretentious fruit once thought bad for us, has now, thanks to numerous research studies over the last decade been found to be “Heart Healthy Food”. Avocados are loaded with ‘Monounsaturated’ fat, or “Good” fats. They are also rich in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance shown to lower cholesterol levels. In fact, one study done in 1996 showed that consumption of avocados every day for a week lowered cholesterol levels by a whopping 17%, while HDL levels climbed.
Nuts: Pistachios, Almonds and Walnuts
Who would have thought that something so small and tasty could also have a big heart healthy food effect in our bodies? Well according to a study by Penn State, a helping of Pistachios daily can actually lower LDL levels. While other studies and research have pointed out that having a snack consisting of walnuts after a high fat meal can actually help to protect your heart. These nuts are containing heart healthy omega-3 acid and antioxidants that work hard at reversing the arterial damage and plague buildup caused by saturated fats in the diet.
Research is now showing that Pomegranate Juice, in its 100% juice form, has been shown to block the buildup of plague (cholesterol) in arteries that causes them to harden and can lead to blockage. Pomegranate juice contains antioxidants, one in particular--polyphenols. The great thing about pomegranate juice—it contains antioxidants at far higher levels than the majority of fruit juices which goes far in helping it in its heart healthy function.
A word of caution when using pomegranate juice; as it may interact with some statins and medications used to treat high-blood pressure which can result in serious side effects, before using pomegranate juice as a supplement, check with your physician.