Cholesterol is always one of those buzz words that people talk about and a health issue that they are worried about. It is something that we should all be screened for, and keep in our thoughts when we eat daily. As part of a healthy lifestyle, adding certain food to our diets can help to naturally remove the “bad” cholesterol from our bodies and increase the “good” cholesterol.
What kinds of Cholesterol are there?
There are two different kinds of cholesterol: Low Density Lipoproteins (LDLs) and High Density Lipoproteins. I think that is where most people tend to zone out! The LDLs are the “bad” cholesterol’s that tend to build up as plaques in your arteries and increase your risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke. The HDLs actually prevent heart attack and stroke, and they are thought to bring LDL cholesterol away from the heart and into the liver to be broken down and excreted by the liver. Your LDLs should be kept below 100 (and some HCP’s will even tell you to get them below 70). And HDL levels should be kept above 50 (the higher the better on this one!) Also, people over 20 ears old should get checked every 5 years, and once you hit the ripe old age of 35 (for men) and 45 (for women) you should be screened more frequently, and based on your past medical history, your HCP may screen your with your annual physical.
What can I eat to decrease my LDL and increase my HDL?
There are many foods that can help boost your “good” cholesterol and help to decrease the “bad”, of course this is along with a healthy lifestyle of exercising 20-30 minutes minimum a day and, drinking lot of water, and if this doesn’t help, you may have to use medications to drop your “bad” cholesterol levels.
–Oats: two servings of oats per day have been shown to decrease LDL by up to a little over 5% in 6 weeks. It has a substance in the oats that absorb the LDLs and help you to excrete them so they don’t adhere to your artery walls.
–Red Wine: Some of the grapes used in making Rioja wine were found to have high fiber levels, and a study conducted in Spain found that people with slightly elevated LDLs had around a 9% drop in LDLs and those who entered the study with high LDLs had around a 12% decrease.
–Fish high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Salmon, Arctic Char, Mackerel, & Sardines are high in Omega 3’s can help to increase HDL’s by 4% when replacing other meals with proteins high in saturated fats.
–Beans: Adding 1/2 beans (black, kidney, pinto) to soup can help to decrease LDLs up to 8% because they are so full in fiber, it can help to draw the LDLs out.
–Olive Oil: It is full of Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) that help to lower LDL levels and actually increase HDLs
–Black Tea: one serving of black tea a day can decrease LDLs up to 10% in only 3 weeks!
–Avocado: Whilst high in calories and fat, they are also full of the MUFAs, so they should be used in moderation, but a tasty treat to boost “good” cholesterol!
–Chocolate: In a large study, participants that added a serving of cocoa powder to their diet daily for 12 weeks increased their HDLs by 24%.
–Garlic: Helps top lower cholesterol by preventing LDLs from sticking to the artery walls, and it is suggested to eat 2 to 4 fresh cloves a day (but yikes, get ready for some kickin’ breath!)
–Walnuts: When eating 1.5 oz of walnuts 6 days/ week for a month, study participants were found to have a decrease in LDLs by 9.3%, but just like avocados they are high in fat and calories, so watch how much you eat, and try to stick to the 1.5oz per day.
Adding these foods to a healthy lifestyle can help to keep your cholesterol in a good, healthy range, and if you tend to eat a higher fatty diet, try to supplement a higher fat food for one of these cholesterol lowering foods. Talk to your HCP about your risks, your current cholesterol levels, and make sure that you have follow-up cholesterol levels checked after changing your lifestyle to show improvement. Try to add these foods and live a heart healthy lifestyle!
Yours in Good Health