Diet can play an important role in lowering your cholesterol. Here are five foods that can lower your cholesterol and protect your heart.
an a bowl of oatmeal help lower your cholesterol? How about a handful of walnuts or even a baked potato topped with some heart-healthy margarine? A few simple tweaks to your diet — like these, along with exercise and other heart-healthy habits — may be helpful in lowering your cholesterol. 1. Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad,” cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes. 2. Fish and omega-3 fatty acids
Eating fatty fish can be heart healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. In people who have already had heart attacks, fish oil — or omega-3 fatty acids — reduces the risk of sudden death. 3. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts
Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy. All nuts are high in calories, so a handful will do. 4. Olive oil
Olive oil contains a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol but leave your “good” (HDL) cholesterol untouched.
Try using about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet to get its heart-healthy benefits
5. Foods with added plant sterols or stanols
Foods are now available that have been fortified with sterols or stanols — substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol. Margarines, orange juice and yogurt drinks with added plant sterols can help reduce LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent. The amount of daily plant sterols needed for results is at least 2 grams — which equals about two 8-ounce (237-milliliter) servings of plant sterol-fortified orange juice a day.
Atherosclerosis causes fatty deposits called plaque form in your arteries. Plaque interferes with blood flow, which raises your risk for heart disease and stroke. Known causes of plaque buildup include high blood levels of low-density lipoprotein, also called LDL, triglycerides, another form of unhealthy fat, and high blood pressure. Several herbal remedies or spices may help reduce the amount of plaque in your arteries and lower your risk for serious disease. Discuss these remedies with your doctor to determine what is appropriate for you. -TUMERIC Turmeric is a traditional Indian spice that also has medicinal qualities and may help reduce arterial plaque. Research suggests that it inhibits platelets from forming clots, part of the process that helps enlarge plaque deposits. It may also lower blood cholesterol, especially keeping LDL within a healthy range. -GINGER Ginger is a common spice that also has a long history in traditional medicine as a treatment for many ailments. It contains several compounds called gingerols and shogaols, which have biological activity and may be responsible for its health benefits. Ginger may help prevent plaque buildup or lessen existing plaque by lowering total cholesterol and blocking oxidation of LDL, one of the steps in plaque formation. -GARLIC Garlic has a long history as part of traditional medicine that dates as far back as ancient Egyptian times. Among its benefits, garlic tends to raise blood levels of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, while reducing LDL. It also reduces levels of two other compounds, called homocysteine and C-reactive protein, that are associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease. Garlic is also an antioxidant and it may help reduce blood pressure, another factor that contributes to plaque formation in your arteries.
Peripheral artery disease (also called peripheral arterial disease) is a common circulatory problem in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs.
When you develop peripheral artery disease (PAD), your extremities — usually your legs — don’t receive enough blood flow to keep up with demand.
Factors that increase your risk of developing peripheral artery disease include: -Smoking -Diabetes -Obesity (a body mass index over 30) -High blood pressure (140/90 millimeters of mercury or higher) -High cholesterol (total blood cholesterol over 240 milligrams per deciliter, or 6.2 millimoles per liter) -Increasing age, especially after reaching 50 years of age -A family history of peripheral artery disease, heart disease or stroke -High levels of homocysteine, a protein component that helps build and maintain tissue
People who smoke or have diabetes have the greatest risk of developing peripheral artery disease due to reduced blood flow.
Over the years, soy has garnered a lot of attention for its potential role in reducing blood cholesterol. In 1995, a review of 38 clinical trials found that, on average, soy protein reduced total cholesterol by over 9 percent and LDL cholesterol by nearly 13 percent. However, the response to soy protein depended on how high the blood-cholesterol level was at the start. People with total cholesterol levels greater than 335 mg/dL benefited the most, while those with cholesterol levels less than 260 mg/dL showed only a modest decrease in their cholesterol levels.
In 1999, based on the research to date, the Food and Drug Administration approved products containing at least 6.25 g of soy protein per serving to claim that diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 g of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. The beneficial effects of soy may come from replacing animal products that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol with soy products, such as tofu, soy nuts, and soy burgers, which are low in saturated fat and higher in polyunsaturated fat, fiber, and nutrients.
Figs, one of the oldest fruits known, are native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. This delicate and highly perishable fruit does not withstand shipping well and is most commonly available dried in areas where it isn’t grown. A relative of the mulberry, figs are among the sweetest fruits and provide a wide assortment of nutritional and health benefits that do your body good. Figs are particularly heart-healthy and a great food to lower bad cholesterol. High potassium levels combined with low sodium levels help lower blood pressure, and high levels of polyphenol antioxidants help prevent atherosclerosis. A 3.5-ounce serving of dried figs contains up to 50 times the polyphenol content of most other fruits. Figs also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and phytosterol compounds, which help lower cholesterol levels and preserve the flexibility of your arteries. Their fiber binds to cholesterol, helping to eliminate it from your body.
If your cholesterol is elevated, you’re probably looking for steps you can take to help bring it down. When your “bad,” or LDL, cholesterol gets too high, it begins to form a waxy, fatty buildup, called plaque, on your artery walls. Plaque restricts blood flow to your heart and can lead to heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Certain fruits are high in cholesterol-lowering antioxidants, and their juices can be an effective way to reduce the plaque caused by high cholesterol. -Drink orange juice every day. Daily consumption of orange juice appears to help increase “good,” or HDL, cholesterol. Because HDL cholesterol helps sweep plaque out of your arteries, the higher your HDL level is, the better off you are. -Add grape juice to your diet. In a study reported in the American Heart Association journal “Circulation,” purple grape juice was found to help participants’ blood vessels dilate more fully, helping to prevent “bad” cholesterol from attaching to artery walls. -Try pomegranate juice, which is high in antioxidants called poly-phenols, which are plant compounds that help your body fight diseases and cell damage. More and larger research studies are necessary to determine the full extent of pomegranate juice’s health benefits, but so far, it appears that pomegranate juice helps prevent plaque buildup in your arteries and aids in healthy blood flow.