Post #36: Five foods that lower cholesterol

Do you have high cholesterol? Most likely your doctor has discussed with you strategies to help manage and lower your lipid levels. One of the most effective and natural ways of controlling your cholesterol is with diet. There are certain foods that have been shown to lower cholesterol.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), an estimated 35 million Americans have dangerously high total cholesterol levels, putting them at serious risk for coronary heart disease, stroke and heart attack. Additionally, about 34 percent of U.S. adults are obese and 6 percent are extremely obese, putting them at an increased risk for high cholesterol. Obesity raises blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers “good” HDL cholesterol levels.

Here are five foods that help lower cholesterol:

1. Oats: Studies have shown that the beta-glucan soluble fiber found in oat products reduces “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. In 1997, the FDA deemed food products containing rolled oats and oat bran as “heart healthy” and able to reduce the risk of heart disease. The AHA recommends getting between 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day.

2. Blueberries: Blueberries contain an antioxidant called “pterostilbene,” which has been shown to reduce cholesterol and other lipids in the blood.

3. Walnuts, almonds and pistachios: These nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which studies have shown significantly reduces cholesterol levels. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts daily lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol levels by 9.3 percent.

4. Fish: Fatty fishes like salmon, tuna and mackerel are a good source of both protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce triglycerides and increase “good” HDL cholesterol levels. Other studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may also act as an anticoagulant, helping to prevent blood clots.

5. Olive oil: The antioxidants in olive oil can reduce the oxidation of “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, helping to stop the hardening of arteries. Choose the least processed “extra-virgin” olive oil.

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