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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 May 22, 2019

      10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

      10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

      There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

      One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

      In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

      Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

      1. Cat Camel Stretch

      Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

      Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

      Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

      Here’s a video to guide you through:

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      2. Go for a Walk or a Run

      This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

      Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

      The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

      Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

      Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

      3. Jumping Jacks

      Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

      Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

      4. Abductor Side Lifts

      Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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      Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

      5. Balancing Table Pose

      This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

      Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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        6. Leg Squats

        Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

        Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

        The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

        7. Push Ups

        You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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        An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

        Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

        This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

        8. Bicycle Crunches

        There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

        Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

        9. Lunges

        Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

        Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

        This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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        10. Bicep Curls

        You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

        Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

        Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

        Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

        Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

        These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

        You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

        Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

        More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

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