After my husband had open heart surgery I learned a lot of sodium, cholesterol, and diet. I thought I was knowledgable on what we should and shouldn’t be eating, but there is so much that I didn’t know. There are a number of foods that are good to eat for those wanting to lower their cholesterol levels. Major dietary changes are not always needed and a simple switch in meal choices, emphasising particular health smart ingredients, can help greatly. Some of the best food choices are:
Whole grains, oatmeal, oat bran, high fibre foods – all terrific sources of soluble fibre that lower those all important LDL levels (the bad cholesterol). Many cereal choices available at the supermarket contain the above list. Bananas, blueberries, apples, pears and prunes, all high in fibre too, can be added as an addition to the morning meal to increase the healthy boost at breakfast time.
Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish – a real heart smart choice for lowering cholesterol levels. Ideally, two servings of fish per week should be consumed; for some, the addition of fish oil capsules in to their daily routine can also help to increase the intake of this vital ingredient. Mackerel, sardines and salmon are three types of fish that are especially recommended, yet for those who don’t like the taste of fish, certain types of oil, such as canola and flaxseed also contain omega 3. Take care to cook fish by using a healthy method – baking or grilling is best.
Nuts – a wonder food that many people neglect in their daily diet. It is important to consume them in the most natural state possible; avoid nuts that are highly salted or have a sugar based coating. Specific nut choices good for lowering cholesterol levels include walnuts, pecans, peanuts, hazelnuts and pistachios. A handful a day should be added to the diet, any more than this will likely lead to excess weight gain.
Olive oil – just two tablespoons a day, in place of other fat based choices, can improve cholesterol levels markedly. Extra-virgin olive oil is the best variety as ithas not been as heavily processed and contains a higher nutritional quality. Used in cooking, salad dressings and in place of butter for spreading bread, olive oil is a wonderful health improver.
Other cholesterol lowering foods – avocados and olives are healthy choices as are black soybeans. Certain fruit juices have been found to aid in the reduction of cholesterol levels too, these include cranberry/grape juice and pomegranate juice. Yogurts with live active cultures can also assist. Many margarine lines, orange juices and yogurt based drinks have added plant sterols (or stanols) which help in the absorption of cholesterol.
Remember that even small changes can help make big results. The first step to a healthier lifestyle is educating yourself. There are lots of great helpful resources available for free on the internet. I find lots of good low sodium and low cholesterol recipes online. Some websites to check out for healthier recipes are the Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association, and All Recipes.
It’s important to visit your doctor regularly and be screened. Get your lab work done. Many people can have little to no symptoms and have dangerously high cholesterol and blood pressure. Know your numbers.
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