Thursday, December 5, 2013

EATING TO IMPROVE YOUR CHOLESTEROL NUMBERS

Are you one of the unlucky millions, like me, who have high cholesterol? If so you might think that eating low-cholesterol foods would be the best way to improve those numbers.  But you may not be right.  Lilian Cheung, D.Sc., R.D., director of health promotion and communication at the Harvard School of Public Health, stated the following; "Although it is important to limit the amount of cholesterol you eat, especially if you have diabetes, for most people dietary cholesterol isn't the villain it's been portrayed to be." She went on to explain that the biggest influence on blood cholesterol level is the mix of fats and carbohydrates in your diet - not the amount of cholesterol you eat from food.

There are actually foods you can eat that help to lower your cholesterol level naturally.  Here are 7 of them:

  • Oats. Studies have shown that eating 3 servings a day of the fiber found in oats may reduce total blood cholesterol.  It also lowers by 5% to 7% the "bad" LDL cholesterol that is known to clog arteries. "Soluble fiber binds to fatty substances in the intestines and carries them out as waste, lowering cholesterol," says Cheung.
  • Wild Salmon. "An excellent way to get omega-3 fats, an important type of polyunsaturated fat that can improve blood cholesterol levels, is by eating fatty fish.  That includes wild salmon and sardines, two or three times a week,"Cheung says.
  • Walnuts. Every time you eat walnuts or walnut oil, your HDL, or good cholesterol, gets a power boost and is better able to remove excess cholesterol from your body.  This information is from a June 2013 joint study between Tufts University, University of Pennsylvania, and Penn State.
  • Legumes. Beans, chickpeas, and lentils are some of the most fiber-rich foods you can eat.  A half cup of black beans equals 8 grams of soluble fiber! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 21 grams of fiber daily for women and 30 grams daily for men. Studies have shown that a diet high in cholesterol-lowering foods, including legumes, led to an average drop of 8 mg/dL in LDL cholesterol.
  • Olive Oil. "The types of fat in the diet determine to a large extent the amount of total HDL and LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream," explains Cheung.  According to Harvard School of Public Health, replacing carbohydrates with monounsaturated fats, like those found in olive oil, can boost levels of good cholesterol and lower the levels of bad cholesterol.
  • Avocado. Research in 2010 by the Canadian Medical Association suggests that the monounsaturated fats in avocados can help lower triglyceride levels and LDL cholesterol levels. This can reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • Kale. Steamed leafy greens, such as kale, collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, and cabbage, deliver insoluble fiber, and kale is full of cancer-fighting antioxidants. Kale in particular delivers a super dose of vitamins K, A, and C.

Information for this article contributed by my healthcare company UnitedHealthcare.

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