5 Foods that Lower Cholesterol

November 18, 2013

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foods that lower choelsterolYour doctor has been saying it for years: Lower your cholesterol. Now, The American Heart Association and The American Stroke Association are making the issue clearer with new guidelines released in November 2013 that suggest more people should be on medication.

Now, anyone with a heart attack risk above 7.5 percent should be taking a statin, as well as people with levels of bad, LDL cholesterol 190 mg or higher, anyone with a history of heart disease, and middle-aged adults with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Why should you care?

Your weight has a direct effect on your cholesterol. Cholesterol is fat that circulates in your bloodstream. Too much LDL cholesterol can keep blood from circulating the way it should, which can clog arteries and cause heart disease. Good, HDL cholesterol removes the bad cholesterol from your blood. These are the healthy fats that you want in your diet.

Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet should lower your cholesterol naturally and help you shed pounds. However, some foods have more HDL cholesterol than others. If you’re in the high-risk zone, add some heart-healthy foods to your diet.

Nuts: A study from Loma Linda University found eating about 1/3 cup of nuts daily lowered total cholesterol by 5.1 percent and LDL cholesterol by 7.4 percent. A wide variety of nuts—walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, macadamias, etc.—showed a significant reduction. Eat alone as a snack or sprinkle a serving in Greek yogurt for a hearty breakfast. Just keep your consumption to no more than three ounces daily to keep the calories to a minimum.

Salmon: Loma Linda University also found two servings of fatty fish per week increased good cholesterol by 4 percent and decreased fatty triglyceride levels by 11.4 percent. Try one of CMWL’s salmon recipes, salmon with soy glaze over wilted spinach greens, for a delicious meal the whole family can enjoy.

Citrus fruits: Besides boosting your immune system, citrus fruits are rich in flavonoids, which give oranges and grapefruit its bright color. Studies show they improve blood vessel function and have anti-inflammatory effects. Lemons and limes are also in the citrus fruit family and complement your meals nicely.

Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate contains over 300 compounds and chemicals including flavonoids, which have an antioxidant effect. Foods containing high amounts of antioxidants are thought to help offset inflammation and reduce the risk of high cholesterol. However, don’t overdo it. Most medical studies show that it only takes about 3.5 ounces to reap the health benefits of dark chocolate. Savor a small amount to really enjoy the treat!

Olive oil: Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, known as MUFAs, which studies show help lower bad, LDL cholesterol and promote a healthy heart. Research also shows consuming a healthy amount of olive oil can help shed belly fat. Opt for olive oil instead of other vegetable oils when preparing your meals. Your heart will thank you for it!

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