7 Foods That Can Help Lower Your Cholesterol

I ran across this article from SouthBeach. It is a good summary of foods that reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. It’s good to keep these food groups in the forefront our your consciousness. As a vegan, I’ll pass on the salmon. I’ll also pass on the wine. I’ve witnessed the struggles that several of my family members have had with the addictive nature of alcohol. It’s just not worth the risk for me.

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February is American Heart Month, so what better time to take preventive steps to reduce your heart disease risk and the chances of having a heart attack or stroke? While optimal levels of cholesterol are different for each individual, and not everyone will react to dietary changes the same way, there are some foods that can help with reducing high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called “bad” cholesterol that can cause artery-clogging plaque to form in your coronary artery walls. Try adding some or all of the following foods to your diet every day.

Broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables)

Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale are packed with fiber that can help reduce cholesterol. The fiber-related components in these vegetables bind to cholesterol-laden bile salts in the small intestine and promote their excretion along with waste. When this happens, the liver must use more cholesterol to produce more bile salts, therefore lowering the amount of cholesterol in the body available to make LDL. Regularly eating cruciferous veggies may also help lower blood pressure.

Beans and other legumes

All beans and other legumes, including black, red, navy, kidney, pinto, lentils, and garbanzos, are loaded with filling protein and both soluble and insoluble fiber. The fiber in legumes can help lower bad LDL cholesterol and slow the digestion process, preventing glucose and insulin levels from rising steeply. Consequently, beans and other legumes are an ideal choice for people with diabetes.

Oats and other whole grains

All whole grains, including oats, wheat, wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, millet, and barley, contain soluble fiber, which helps block the body’s absorption of cholesterol. Eating high-fiber whole grains also aids in stabilizing blood sugar and regulating insulin production, helping to lower your risk of diabetes. According to a study conducted at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston, antioxidant compounds found in oat bran called avenanthramides can also prevent white blood cells from sticking to the artery walls, which is an important step in preventing plaque formation.

Nuts and seeds

Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and other nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein, heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. When substituted for saturated fat in your diet, nuts and seeds can help reduce total cholesterol as well as bad LDL cholesterol without affecting levels of good HDL cholesterol. Just be sure to limit your daily intake to about 1 ounce (1/4 cup), since nuts and seeds are calorie dense.

Tea

Powerful antioxidants (called polyphenols) found in black, white, green, red, and oolong tea can help lower bad LDL cholesterol. Studies show that oolong tea can increase LDL particle size, helping to prevent LDL from burrowing into vessel walls. Consuming green tea in either beverage or capsule form has also been found to help to preserve normal production of insulin by the pancreas, improving blood sugar metabolism.

Red wine

Because red wine contains resveratrol, a phytonutrient predominantly found in the skins of red grapes that possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, studies suggest that drinking red wine may protect against artery-damaging LDL cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Enjoy an occasional glass or two of red wine with a meal on Phase 2, but stop at one or two. More than one drink a day for women and two for men can increase the risk of heart disease and have other harmful effects on your health.

Wild salmon (and other omega-3-rich fish)

Cold-water fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild salmon, herring, Spanish mackerel, canned light tuna, anchovies, and sardines, can help lower bad LDL cholesterol when substituted for foods containing saturated and trans fats in the diet. Dr. Arthur Agatston, leading preventive cardiologist and creator of the South Beach Diet, recommends eating fish two or three times a week. Studies show that including omega-3-rich seafood in a diet can also help reduce blood pressure and inflammation. (Note: A pregnant or breast-feeding woman should consult her doctor before consuming fish or shellfish.)

Source: http://www.southbeachdiet.com

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