There are a large number of food items that lower cholesterol naturally, eat them more often. On the other hand, certain food items raise the bad cholesterol ( LDL) in the blood, avoid them.
The formula to maintain good heart health is as simple as that, yet you may often eat what is not good for your heart and body. Most of the time you may be eating those items unknowingly, and on the other times your taste buds may be forcing you to eat unhealthy food.
What is the Right Level of Cholesterol for a Healthy Person?
It has always been a debatable issue in the medical fraternity. Recent studies show that high cholesterol is not a major contributor to the heart diseases, therefore the side effects of the medicine to reduce cholesterol will do more harm then the high cholesterol itself. That is good news for any health conscious person. Not using these medicines also saves a lot of money as cholesterol drugs are expensive.
While the scientific researches keep showing different results on various medicines, it may still be prudent to maintain cholesterol levels within the prescribed limits. You can naturally lower cholesterol with the help of food and exercise. Just make a plan and stick to it.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is produced by the liver and is essential to maintain healthy cells, nerves and hormones. Anything in excess is bad for the body. Cholesterol is no exception. Your diet and lack of physical activities are the two major causes of increased cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Cholesterol is important to the body. In fact every cell in the body has cholesterol. It serves many important functions in the body.The most important function of cholesterol is to help making hormones. Hormones are the body's chemical messengers. The body needs some cholesterol to function properly. Its membranes or cell walls actually help producing hormones. It also helps in the production of bile acids that help in digestion of fats. Cholesterol also helps the body to manufacture Vitamin D. So overall cholesterol is an important substance made in the body. It is a waxy fat like substance.
Cholesterol has no symptoms. It gets detected in the blood report.
If you have just come back from the doctor with news of high cholesterol, then start working on controlling it. Almost every second or third person is now suffering from high cholesterol levels due to current fast lifestyle and diet habits.
There are many ways to lower cholesterol naturally. Use them before the high cholesterol begins to take its toll on the body.
High cholesterol can clog arteries and cause a heart attack and stroke.
Lower Your Cholesterol by Diet
Diet and exercise play vital roles in raising or lowering cholesterol. Food control therefore is one of the most important aspects to not only lower your cholesterol but also to lead a better quality life due to improved heart functioning. What you really need is to adjust your taste buds to these healthy food habits. In addition, if you do regular exercise such as 40 minutes of walking then you certainly will lower cholesterol naturally. Food comes in different variety of nutrients. Some foods contain more cholesterol than the other. This dietary cholesterol along with consumption of saturated fat increases your cholesterol levels.
The first step is to increase your intake of fiber rich foods. Most food items have varying degrees of soluble and insoluble fiber content. So select foods with higher soluble fiber. Soluble fiber rich foods such as oats, beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, fruits and vegetables help reduce cholesterol.
Your aim to remain healthy by reducing LDL and increasing HDL is accomplished by eating foods that reduce LDL and increase HDL. Soluble fiber reduces absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. Your real enemy in Cholesterol is LDL. Soluble fiber rich foods reduce LDL.
Increasing HDL is accomplished more by exercise than by food.
Oatmeal and oat bran cereals are excellent soluble fiber rich foods. Eat one cup of cooked oatmeal mixed with banana for breakfast every day. This permanent change in the morning meal will reduce your bad cholesterol LDl (Low Density Lipoproteins) by more than 5 %. This is a very significant reduction. it is achieved because a compound beta-glucan in Oats absorbs LDL which is then excreted by your body. Oatmeal is a scavenger of bad cholesterol. Eat it regularly and keep your heart happy.
Eating nuts is another way to reduce cholesterol. All nuts contain fatty acids so you need to be careful in selecting nuts. Nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids help reduce cholesterol and keep blood vessels healthy. Walnuts and Almonds are a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acid.
The biggest disadvantage of the nuts is that they contain high calories. You must do exercise to kill the calories to get the best out of eating nuts. Don’t eat fried or salted nuts. The maximum quantity of nuts you can consume a day is about 1.5 ounce to get the real benefit. A study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests consumption of 1.5 ounce of whole walnut for a months lowered total cholesterol by 5.4 % and LDL by 9.3%. So for the nuts, but exercise to balance the excess calorie intake to get best results.
Other nuts such as hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans and pine nuts are also good.
All fats are not bad. In fact research around the world has proven benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
Many kinds of fishes such as Albacore tuna, Lake trout, Herring, Sardines, Salmon, Mackerel and Halibut contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. American Heart Association recommends at least 2 servings of fish per week.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been useful in warding off heart disease and many other diseases. When you replace saturated fats with omega-3s You can raise good cholesterol HDL as much as 4%. Fishes are one of the few foods that raise HDL so go for Omega-3 rich fishes.
If you are a vegetarian and don't eat fish, then don't frett. There are many very powerful vegetarian sources of omega-3. The most popular ones are flax seeds and canola oil.
You can sprinkle freshly ground flaxseeds on your breakfast and other meals to consume it. You can add to your salads in the powder form to reduce cholesterol. Do not grind the flaxseed and keep as the powder loses the potency of Omega-3 due to oxidation. Always prepare fresh ground powder of flaxseeds to consume.
Beans have abandoned soluble fiber. This keeps your heart healthy as well as reduce cholesterol. Various studies done on beans have found that it reduces total cholesterol as well as LDL. Once such study at Arizona State University Polytechnic found that adding ½ cup of beans soup lowers total cholesterol, including LDL, by up to 8%. You will get the best results from black, kidney, or pinto beans. However, other beans also will suffice to reduce cholesterol.
6. Fruits and vegetables
Most fruits and vegetables contain molecules called sterols and stanols. These molecules are heart healthy. Eat all kinds of fruits and vegetables to get different healthy nutrients. Use different colored fruits and vegetables including carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, leafy greens, yellow squashes, plums, blueberries. Dark colored food items are more healthy.
The dark green colored contain lutein which protects against age related macular degeneration also guards against heart by preventing artery walls from depositing cholesterol that cause clogging. So eat lots of green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale to lower cholesterol.
Avocados are a complete meal. This is perhaps the only fruit that contains fat in addition to other nutrients. It has many compounds that lower cholesterol. The fat itself is one because it is Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). The other fat compound is called beta-sitosterol which reduces cholesterol absorbed from the food. Eat Avocado with care as it is high calories food .
Garlic is multifunctional health herb. It not only protects against infections but also helps to reduce blood pressure, prevents blood clots and lowers cholesterol. Latest research has found that it stops the cholesterol from sticking to the walls of arteries in early stages of plaque buildup. So eat garlic in any form. Put it in your food, add to your teas or eat raw. In fact eating raw cloves gives the best effect in lowering cholesterol and reducing artery clogging plaque. You can eat 2-4 cloves daily.
9. Olive oil
Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) present in the olive oil is a heart healthy fat. It lowers LDL. In addition it has been found to reduce belly fat. So it not only makes you healthier but also makes you look good. Use olive oil to dress your salads daily.
A very significant 24% increase in HDL was observed in the people who took cocoa powder for 12 weeks according to a study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This is because of the powerful antioxidants in chocolate. Eat dark chocolate and avoid milk chocolates to increase your HDL and improve good cholesterol in the overall cholesterol count.
While tea has become well known for its cancer-fighting antioxidants, it is also a great defense against high LDL cholesterol levels. According to research conducted with the USDA, black tea has been shown to reduce blood lipids by up to 10% in only 3 weeks. These findings were concluded in a larger study of how tea may also help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. (Here's how to make the perfect cup of tea every time.)
Foods to Avoid
Some of the foods such as butter, cakes and biscuits, cream, ghee, hard cheese, lard, meat pies, palm oil and sausages should be reduced or completely avoided to lower your cholesterol.
Other foods to avoid are foods that contain trans fats such as animal meat and dairy products.
The other methods of reducing cholesterol is by exercising. In fact you have to work on all the methods to reduce cholesterol to get the best and fast results.
Reduce Cholesterol by Exercise
Sedentary lifestyle and consumption of fatty foods cause high cholesterol. Therefore the required lifestyle changes obviously have to focus on both these aspects.
Regular moderate exercises are good for general wellbeing and particularly very helpful in reducing cholesterol. A brisk walk for 40 minutes a day is a good enough lifestyle change that is required for an otherwise healthy person to reduce cholesterol.
This is a very simple method of reducing cholesterol but what is difficult is to build a habit of ensuring a daily routine of 40 minutes of walk. Commit yourself to do it regularly.
In addition to this simple exercise, it is important that you adopt a low–fat diet regime.
The most interesting scientific studies done on the moderate exercise and low fat diets have produced surprising conclusions. Only moderate exercise or only low fat diet will not produce the desired results. It is a combination of moderate exercise and low fat diet that produces the results.
In fact according to the finding of a Stanford study, sticking to a low fat diet without moderate exercise reduces good cholesterol (HDL). This is dangerous and can lead to heart disease.
Therefore adopt a moderate exercise and low fat diet to maintain a good balance of cholesterol and remain healthy.