If you are like millions of other Americans, you may be struggling with high cholesterol. For some, taking medications like Lipitor is necessary because of a higher risk for developing heart disease. However, for many others it is possible to significantly lower cholesterol by simply modifying their diet and adding light cardiovascular exercise. There are also now five foods proven to help lower cholesterol. Incorporating these foods into your diet, avoiding high cholesterol foods and an increase in cardiovascular activities, like walking, can be as effecting as taking medications without cost or the risk of side effects.
The American Heart Association recommends adding at least ten grams of soluble fiber each day. Soluble fibers, like that found in Oatmeal, Oat Bran, apples, pears and kidney beans, can lower total cholesterol numbers by blocking the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines.
In a recent study walnuts, which are rich in polyunsaturated fat, appeared to actually help reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Other nuts, like almonds, seemed to have had a similar effect of significantly reducing blood cholesterol levels. The F.D.A. recommends just a handful of these nuts a day, however, because they are also high in calories.
Try adding some olive oil which is not only delicious, but it’s also heart healthy. Olive oil which is great in salad dressings, marinades, and used for sautéing, can lower LDL cholesterol while not lowering your good HDL cholesterol. It is full of antioxidants, and the F.D.A. says just two tablespoons a day is enough to see its benefits.
Adding at least two servings of fish per week can help lower not only cholesterol, but blood pressure and help reduce the risk of developing blood clots. Fish like salmon, lake trout, mackerel, albacore tuna and sardines are the richest in fatty omega-3’s. For those who do not like the taste of fish, supplements can give some of the same nutritional benefits.
Lastly, plant sterols can help block the absorption of cholesterol. There are many foods that are now fortified with plant sterols like orange juice, some margarines and some yogurt drinks. To get the benefit, which can help lower LDL cholesterol by as much as 10%, drink two 8oz glasses of plant fortified orange juice a day.
Discuss any questions about your cholesterol with your doctor, make sure you understand your risks for developing heart disease, and learn about all your options before trying medications.