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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 September 16, 2019

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

      You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

      We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

      The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

      Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

      1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

      Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

      For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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      • (1) Research
      • (2) Deciding the topic
      • (3) Creating the outline
      • (4) Drafting the content
      • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
      • (6) Revision
      • (7) etc.

      Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

      2. Change Your Environment

      Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

      One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

      3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

      Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

      Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

      My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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      Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

      4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

      If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

      Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

      I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

      5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

      I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

      Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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      As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

      6. Get a Buddy

      Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

      I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

      7. Tell Others About Your Goals

      This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

      For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

      8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

      What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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      9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

      If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

      Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

      10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

      Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

      Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

      11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

      At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

      Reality check:

      I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

      More About Procrastination

      Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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