Foods That Lower Cholesterol
Top Five Foods that Lower Cholesterol
The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, so learning how to stay heart healthy by eating foods that lower cholesterol should be a primary goal of every person. Though they may be healthy foods, they are also delicious and nutritious and easy to incorporate into any diet.
Cholesterol and Heart Disease
A high level of blood cholesterol is a primary threat to a healthy heart. Cholesterol is a sticky, fat like substance in the blood that can collect on the walls of the arteries. As more and more cholesterol accumulates, there is less and less available room for the blood to flow to critical areas of the body. As blood flow to the heart slows or stops, vital oxygen is deprived to the heart. When enough deprivation is inflicted to the heart, the individual will begin to feel pain in the chest as the heart strains to function. When blockage occurs in an artery due to the buildup of cholesterol, a heart attack will occur through the lack of valuable blood to our most important organ. Unfortunately, there are rarely any symptoms for the condition of high cholesterol. The condition is easily detected through traditional blood tests, however.
Is excess cholesterol preventable?
There are two types of cholesterol; the first is the cholesterol that our bodies naturally produce (endogenous) and the second is the cholesterol that we ingest through foods (exogenous). All human bodies produce a certain amount of cholesterol, which is used to build hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. The amount of cholesterol naturally produced accounts for 75% of the amount that our bodies require, so little consumption of foods containing cholesterol is needed. For some people, their bodies produce more cholesterol than is needed, however. In this case, medication is almost always necessary to control cholesterol levels.
Most people simply eat too many foods that are high in cholesterol; with fried foods and fatty foods as the main culprits. The biggest problem is that the majority of people do not eat the foods that lower cholesterol levels. When eaten on a regular basis, these foods will not only help to stabilize cholesterol in the blood but also provide overall health benefits to the body.
- High fiber foods. Fiber acts just like a chimney sweep; abrasively brushing the artery walls to remove any cholesterol that might collect there. Foods like whole oats, oat bran, dried beans, apples, pears, prunes and barley are essential soluble fiber for the body.
- Omega-3 foods. The word “fatty” conjures evil picture in the mind of the health conscious, but some fats, such as omega-3’s, are vital to good health. Fish such as mackerel, herring, halibut, salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna and sardines should be eaten at least twice per week for this purpose. Supplements of omega-3 are also available.
- Nuts. Certain nutmeats are also valuable tools for lowering cholesterol. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, pine nuts and pistachios can be added in small amounts to daily diets to provide polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Olive oil. Antioxidants are often the key in foods that lower cholesterol, which is why olive oil offers such a great health advantage. Two tablespoons per day are all that is required to boost your cholesterol fighting power.
- Plant sterols or stanols. There are substances in plants that provide great abilities for blocking cholesterol absorption in the blood called sterols and stanols. Two grams per day of these elements can lower “bad” cholesterol in the blood by as much as 10%. They are often added to foods such as margarine, yogurt, yogurt beverages and juices.
Keeping our heart healthy can give us longer life, and adding these foods that lower cholesterol levels in the blood will allow our diets to give us the tools we need to achieve better health.