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Food Cures: 10 Foods To Lower Cholesterol Level

Food Cures: 10 Foods To Lower Cholesterol Level

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. And it’s out modern lives that have led to this staggering statistic.

Americans are less physically active than ever before, and we have more access to fattier — think fast — food than ever before. This combination of a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet can lead to high cholesterol and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The good news, though, is that high cholesterol can be preventable and reversible with proper diet and exercise.

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol in and of itself isn’t bad — in fact, our bodies need it for proper functioning. The problems arise when the ratio of good to bad cholesterol is off, and our bodies begin to build plaque inside our arteries.

When we refer to cholesterol, we are actually referring to the conveyance mechanism that moves cholesterol through our blood stream. This mechanism is made of lipoproteins that bond to cholesterol and move it around our bodies.

HDL, the good cholesterol, cleans arteries of excess cholesterol while LDL, the bad cholesterol, can cause plaque buildup. This plaque buildup, called atherosclerosis, reduces blood flow and may cause heart attack or stroke.

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Foods That Lower Cholesterol

As much as poor diet can contribute to high cholesterol and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, a proper diet rich in certain cholesterol-lowering foods can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

It’s as easy as switching out unhealthy ingredients in recipes and Incorporating these 10 foods into your diet for good heart health:

1. Oily Fish

While the term “oily fish” may sound counterproductive in reducing plaque in our bloodstreams, fish like salmon are low in saturated fat and high in omega-3s. These fatty acids are actually good for your heart.

Omega-3s help reduce inflammation and lower triglycerides. Adults should have two 3.5 ounce servings per week for optimal benefit.

salmon

    2. Nuts And Seeds

    Walnuts, almonds and flax seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids. One ounce of nuts or seeds per day will provide many health benefits.

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    Not only will they help reduce inflammation, but they may help you maintain a healthier weight and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Try to get 1 ounce of nuts or seeds at least five times a week.

    3. Oatmeal And High Fiber Foods

    Soluble fiber found in oatmeal, beans and prunes helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed into your blood. Just 1.5 cups of oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to get the daily recommended amount of fiber into your diet.

    You can also add oatmeal into your baking by making oat flour. Simply grind the oats in a food processor and you have a high fiber flour than can be used in place of wheat flour.

    4. Avocados

    Avocados are a good source of another heart-healthy fatty acid known as MUFAs, or  Monounsaturated Fatty Acids, and they help lower levels of LDL — the bad cholesterol. Add some slices of avocado to your salad or try this guacamole recipe.

    Just make sure you aren’t eating greasy chips with your dip. Use fresh veggies instead.  Stick to half an avocado per day though, because they are calorie dense.

    5. Olive Oil

    Olive oil has antioxidant properties and is good source of MUFAs. Two tablespoons per day are recommended, and they can be added into your diet via salad dressings or as replacement for butter or margarine.

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    For a double dose of MUFAs, try this creamy salad dressing made with avocados and olive oil.

    6. Oranges

    Oranges contain pectin, which is a fiber that helps reduce cholesterol. The potassium in oranges may also help lower blood pressure by offsetting salt intake.

    If you are going to get your daily dose of orange in juice form, make sure to select high pulp content because pectin is found in the pulp. Aim for one orange a day to get optimal benefits.

    7. Alcohol

    The right kinds of alcohol in moderation have been known to increase HDL — the good cholesterol — which helps clean plaque from your arteries. Red wine in particular offers heart-health benefits because it contains the antioxidant, resveratrol.

    Limit yourself to one glass a day, though, and choose healthier cocktails when it comes to your alcohol consumption. Making a red wine Sangria with high fiber fruits such as apples and oranges will give you the combined benefit of both alcohol and fiber.

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    kale

      8. Kale

      Kale is a heart-healthy super food. It has antioxidants, fiber and omega-3s which are all good for lowering cholesterol. Kale also contains glucoraphanin, which helps keep plaque from building up on your arterial walls.

      Making kale chips is a fun way to incorporate this plant into your diet. Not only will you get the benefits of eating kale, but it will keep you from snacking on a less healthy food. Find other recipes that will enable you to work one to two cups into your diet several times a week.

      9. Pomegranate

      Antioxidants fight a process called oxidation. Oxidation of LDL is what starts the plaque buildup inside arteries. The polyphenol antioxidants in pomegranate are unique because not only do they prevent plaque from forming, but they can also help clear plaque that has already formed.

      Pom Wonderful is a company that makes it very convenient to get pomegranate in either fresh fruit or juice form, and eight ounces a day is recommended.

      10. Green Tea

      Green tea is rich in an antioxidants called catechins — which have been shown in clinical studies to not only lower cholesterol but to help reduce body fat as well. Black tea also has catechins but has more caffeine than green tea.

      So try swapping out your morning coffee for a black tea, and sipping on green tea instead of soda in the afternoon. Having several cups a day will reap the most benefit.

      Eating foods that fight inflammation, prevent or reduce oxidation, clean your bloodstream and reduce the amount of cholesterol that can build in your arteries will greatly increase your heart health and decrease your chance for heart disease.

      Even if you have already have high cholesterol, adding these foods to your diet can reverse the process and get you on the right track. It’s never too late to be good to your heart.

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      Anum Yoon

      Writer & Journalist

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      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

      We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

      We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

      So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

      Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

      What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

      Boundaries are limits

      —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

      Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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      Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

      Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

      Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

      How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

      Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

      1. Self-Awareness Comes First

      Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

      You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

      To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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      You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

      • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
      • When do you feel disrespected?
      • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
      • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
      • When do you want to be alone?
      • How much space do you need?

      You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

      2. Clear Communication Is Essential

      Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

      Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

      3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

      Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

      That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

      Sample language:

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      • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
      • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
      • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
      • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
      • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
      • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
      • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

      Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

      4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

      Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

      Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

      Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

      We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

      It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

      It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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      Final Thoughts

      Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

      Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

      Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

      The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

      Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

      Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

      They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

      Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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