Eating Your Way To Lower Chorlesterol

There is a lot of talk about high cholesterol levels but what we need to remember is that our body needs cholesterol to function. Cholesterol is the building block for our cell structure, aids in producing bile that helps breaks down fat, and plays an important role in making hormones.  There are two types of cholesterol just like other things, good and bad! Good cholesterol is known as HDL (high-density lipoproteins) and our body needs this cholesterol to function. HDL’s keep the bad cholesterol from building up in our arteries, which can prevent heart disease. LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) otherwise known as the “bad” cholesterol circulates in the blood and builds up in the artery walls forming plaque. Plaque makes our arteries less flexible and can form dangerous clots that can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

 

There are many steps you can take in your health to make sure you keeping your cholesterol levels within a normal range including your diet and exercise habits. There are many foods that can help lower your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol that in return will improve your heart health as well.

 

Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density the “bad” cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream, which can prevent plaque buildup in your arteries. The recommended daily amount of fiber is 15 grams. If you are not getting enough fiber, make sure to slowly make your way up to the recommended amount as it can cause some digestive discomfort if added too quickly.

 

Fish and omega-3 fatty acids

Eating fatty fish can be heart healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce your blood pressure and give you the good cholesterol you need. It is recommended to eat at least two servings of fish per week. Just make sure when you are buying your fish look for “wild caught” on the package instead of “farm raised”. This is going to be your freshest, most natural form of the fish that doesn’t have the added hormones that can be harmful to the body.  The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in fish such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, and halibut. If you do not like fish, you should consider supplementing with high-grade fish oil.

 

Nuts

Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and pistachios can improve blood cholesterol and keep blood vessels healthy. Eating about a handful a day of these has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease. I always tell my patients to make sure they are raw nuts not roasted or sugar coated. When flavor is added, most likely preservatives are used and that can take away from the nutritional value. These are to be eaten in moderation because they are high in calories.

 

Avocados

According to a recent study, adding avocado to a heart-healthy diet can help improve the bad cholesterol levels in people who are overweight or obese. Personally, I like adding avocado to my salads or on top of eggs. Another bonus of avocado is that it contains the good fat that your brain needs to function and helps with memory.

 

So we shouldn’t always think of cholesterol being bad, as our body needs it to function. It is important when you get your cholesterol levels checked to make sure you know your HDL and your LDL levels. A healthy range for your good cholesterol(HDL) is above 40 mg and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels should be below 100 mg.

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