There are two main nutrients found in the foods that you eat which makes your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol level go up. One is saturated fat, a type of fat that is found mostly in foods that come from animals. The other is cholesterol, which comes only from animal products. Saturated fat raises your LDL more than anything else in the average diet. Eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol is the main reason for high levels of cholesterol which leads to heart disease. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol you eat is a very important step to reduce your blood cholesterol levels. There are many types of foods that you can eat which will actually lower your cholesterol.
Eating soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. Five to ten grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol. Oatmeal is a type of food that contains soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is also found in foods like kidney beans, bananas, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Eating one and a half cups of cooked oatmeal daily will provide you with six grams of fiber. If you add fruit like bananas, you will add about another four grams of fiber to your meal. You can also eat cold cereal made with oatmeal or oat bran.
Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are another type of food that can reduce your blood cholesterol level as well. These nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. Plus, walnuts are known to help keep blood vessels healthy decreasing your risk of heart disease. According to the Food and Drug Administration, eating about a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) a day of most nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, may reduce your risk of heart disease. But, this does not include nuts that are salted or coated with sugar. Plus, make sure that you limit yourself to just a handful because all nuts are high in calories. Try replacing foods that are high in saturated fat with nuts. An easy way to this is to add a handful of walnuts or almonds instead of using cheese, meat or croutons in your salad.
Also, eating fatty fish and omega-3 fatty acids is a great way to control your cholesterol. Because of the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in certain fish, your blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots is reduced. In people who have already had heart attacks, the fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acids, reduces the risk of sudden death. It is recommended to eat at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and halibut. In order to avoid adding unhealthy fat you should bake or grill the fish. If you do not like fish, you can also get small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from foods like ground flaxseed or canola oil.
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