71 million American adults (33.5%) have high LDL (bad) cholesterol!
So, is taking medications and supplements the only way to reduce bad and increase good cholesterol?
Luckily, some everyday foods can naturally lower cholesterol.
Grains, fish and apples create natural balance of good and bad cholesterol.
Cholesterol has a bad reputation, but our body actually needs it in order to survive. Cholesterol is so vital that our bodies produce it naturally.
Wax-like, fatty substance travels through our veins and assists the production of vitamin D, cell membranes, hormones and bile acids that help you digest fat.
Our body self-regulates this process and produces exactly as much cholesterol as it needs. However imbalance of cholesterol levels can lead to serious health damage. For example, high cholesterol leads to heart diseases.
TWO TYPES OF CHOLESTEROL:
- High-density lipoproteins (HDL), also known as “good” cholesterol
- Low-density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol
HDL cholesterol keeps LDL cholesterol from building up around the heart, which protects against heart attacks. When too much LDL cholesterol builds up it can cause blockages in arteries that carry blood to the heart. This can lead to stroke or heart attack.
Our eating habits greatly contribute to cholesterol levels.
Here are several important health indicators of high cholesterol:
- high blood pressure
- chest pain
- extreme fatigue
- shortness of breath
- Age (men over 45, women over 55)
- Family history of heart disease
- Excessive use of alcohol
- High LDL cholesterol
- Low HDL cholesterol
Recommended cholesterol levels:
- Healthy cholesterol level is below 200 mg/dL
- LDL cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol should be above 60 mg/dL
- Optimal level of triglycerides is less than 150 mg/dL
If the cholesterol level is too high, one of the possibilities to reduce it is taking medications or supplements that reduce cholesterol.
Another solution is to change your current lifestyle: weight reduction, exercise and diet modification to reduce the presence of foods with excess of cholesterol.
There are many foods that are extremely useful when it comes to balancing cholesterol levels.
Oats and barley
These grains are full of fiber, which helps in maintaining satiety for a longer period of time and ultimately reduces impulsive need for snacks.
But it’s not just about keeping your body slim!
Soluble fiber, the one that body can’t digest, reduces absorption of cholesterol.
Lean fish significantly reduces cholesterol levels.
Fish like salmon, sardines and tuna have a high percentage of omega 3 fatty acids, which reduces triglycerides.
Spread them on salads, add them on oat flakes, nibble them when you get hungry between meals.
As confirmed by many studies, each nut contributes to lower total cholesterol levels.
Replacing saturated fats found in margarine for unsaturated oils is certainly a good idea – for waist and your heart.
Olive oils help in reducing total cholesterol levels and raising good HDL cholesterol levels.
The average size apple contains about 4 grams (17% of recommended daily intake) of fiber that reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol.
An apple a day can save you from visiting cardiologist!
Strawberries are rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that can lower LDL.
A recent study found that eating strawberries have the same effect on the heart as eating grains!
All citrus fruits are rich in pectin – oranges, grapefruit, lemons.
Fiber can help in reducing blood pressure – which is certainly good for your heart.
Peas and lentils
These are great sources of soluble fiber, which creates feeling of satiety and reduces cholesterol.
A recent study by the University of Arizona found that people who ate half a cup of beans a day for 24 weeks decreased cholesterol by 8%.
As with the fish – if you eat soy you will eat less meat, which means that you reduce intake of saturated fat and cholesterol.
Compared to food from animal origin, soy is unique since its an excellent source of protein and it doesn’t contain cholesterol.
However, its not as powerful cholesterol eliminator as it was thought until recently. A study from 2010. shows that frequent consumption of soy can reduce cholesterol level by 8-10%.
You probably know that moderate alcohol consumption has some health benefits. Occasional cup of red wine can increases levels of good HDL cholesterol.
Red wine can be particularly useful, because its rich in antioxidants, which lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol.
Like olive oil, avocado is rich in unsaturated fats that lower cholesterol.
Monounsaturated acids, which are present in this tropical fruit, reduce LDL and increase HDL cholesterol – but only in case you don’t consume any unhealthy food along with avocado.