High Cholesterol raises the risk of heart disease and stroke. Statistics show over 102 million American adults (over 20 years in age) have total cholesterol at or above 200 mg/dL and of these 35 million plus are above 240 mg/dL which puts them at high risk for heart disease and stroke. Unfortunately there are no symptoms (until it’s too late) so knowing if you have it is only found out through a blood test. That being said, exercise and eating “right” are great natural ways to prevent high cholesterol.
Foods that can help lower cholesterol include:
- Oats- Oat are high in soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol and reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. Have a ½-¾ cup of oatmeal a day cooked or mix them in water and let them sit overnight. Due to their high level of soluble fiber, oats help you stay full longer than most cereals, breads and granola you may turn to for breakfast.
- Garlic-Research has shown that garlic can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as help fight the collection of cholesterol in the arteries. Add it to your spaghetti, pizza sauce, and sauté veggies, cook up some stir-fry and add it, all these are easy ways to add garlic and work on lowering your cholesterol.
- Nuts -Raw nuts are a great snack for heart health, even though they are high in fat and calories. Research has shown the heart health benefits of nuts for the FDA to allow a claim that nuts may help lower the risk of heart disease. The nuts that qualify for the claim are almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts, and walnuts.
- Beans-Beans are great source of soluble fiber (which helps lower cholesterol) and a good source of protein. Beans are low in fat and contain no sugar. Some beans are high in antioxidants as well. This means they can offer protection to heart health beyond their benefits for cholesterol. Pinto, black and small red beans are great high antioxidant choices.
Exercising for 45-60 minutes daily will help lower your cholesterol as well. You don’t have to do anything too crazy, but being physically active will help strengthen your heart and help keep body fat levels in check. A higher level of body fat and fat that’s stored in your midsection (visceral fat) both increases your chance of high cholesterol and several other diseases. Going for a brisk walk, jog, lifting weight 2-3 x’s a week and grabbing a Yoga or Pilates class are great ways to keep your fitness fresh, work on your cardio, strength and flexibility while reducing your chance of high cholesterol.
Start with adding at least one of the food items above and if you’re not working out, start exercising at least 3 x’s a week and lower your cholesterol today!