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Simple change of foods can help lower cholesterol

 

Last updated 11/13/2008 at Noon



According to American Heart Association estimates, 106.7 million adults in the United States live with a total blood cholesterol value of 200 mg/dL and higher. Of those, about 37.2 million have levels of 240 or above.

By now, it is well known that high cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease, heart attacks and stroke. However, many people are still in the dark about how they can conquer cholesterol.

Diet and heredity play key roles in cholesterol levels. While it is relatively impossible to change what one has inherited from a long line of relatives, one does have control over what foods one eats, especially those foods that can help lower cholesterol in a natural, drug-free way.

Enjoy oatmeal and other fiber-rich foods. Oat bran and rice bran have been shown to moderately reduce cholesterol levels.

Results require a healthy helping each and every day (approximately three packets of instant oatmeal) to see marked results. Still, fiber is good for the body in other ways and every little bit helps in the fight against cholesterol.

Consume five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which in general are good for fending off diseases in the body.

Filling up on healthy foods may also fend off cravings for less healthy foods that may be high in saturated fat, a contributor to cholesterol.

Choose legumes several times a week. Replace the animal protein in one’s diet (meat and poultry) with plant protein.

Beans are a good source of protein and fiber and can make for filling meals. Soy products are also effective for keeping cholesterol in check. Try replacing a few foods here and there with soy-based products.

Go for garlic. Research indicates that compounds in garlic help to staunch production of cholesterol in the liver. It works in much the same way as some of the prescription cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Raw and cooked garlic have similar effects, so choose garlic to flavor foods for an added health benefit.

Get the benefits of blueberries. Studies show that a compound in blueberries (pterostilbene) may help lower cholesterol as effectively as commercial drugs, with fewer side effects.

Factor in good fats. Not all fats out there are bad. Omega-3 essential fatty acids can help raise levels of “good” cholesterol, or HDL.

Good fat foods include olive oil, avocados, olives and some nuts.

Pour a glass of pomegranate juice. This tart treat is full of antioxidants and has been touted for years as a sound choice for improving health.

A National Academy of Sciences study showed that pomegranate juice reduces cholesterol plaque buildup by increasing nitric oxide production.

Grab some yogurt with live active cultures. There is research that indicates that yogurt with active cultures (probiotics) can do more than just settle stomach ailments. Yogurt may help to prevent reabsorption of cholesterol back into the bloodstream.

Look for supplemented foods. Stanol esters and plant sterols are plant-produced compounds that block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. Some foods and margarines are adding plant sterols to help fight high cholesterol.

 

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