Do you know your numbers? Your heart numbers that is! An annual blood test is important to have. It helps you understand where your health is headed. More than 65 million people have high cholesterol without symptoms. People with high cholesterol levels are two times more likely to have a heart attack
Diet, exercise, age, and genetics all play a role in heart disease but there are some things you have no control over like age and genetics but somethings you do like diet and exercise. Here are four foods that can help lower your cholesterol and keep your numbers moving in a good direction.
1) OATMEALAccording to Mayo Clinic, oatmeal contains high soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps reduce low-density lipoprotein, also known as LDL or "bad" cholesterol. Think of soluble fiber as bubbles bouncing around those arteries pushing on the walls so that plaque can't build up. Thereby, soluble fiber helps your body limit the amount of cholesterol you absorb. How much oatmeal should you eat? Try eating a 1/2 cup of oatmeal, which will provide 6 to 8 grams of fiber. All oatmeal is not created equal so you have to check the labels.
Studies show you'll need 5-10 grams of soluble fiber daily to decrease your total and LDL cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Fiber comes from plants. Your body can’t really digest it or absorb it into your bloodstream.
2) EAT FAST FISHThe more active an animal is when it's alive, the healthier it is for us to consume. Hence fast fish like mackerel, sardines, halibut, salmon, lake trout, and tuna are great choices to add to your diet. Fish has higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids that can be heart-healthy because they lower blood pressure and potentially, your risk of forming blood clots. Doctors recommend at least 2-3 servings of fish per week. You can take omega-3 fish oil supplements but you may be missing the other nutrients fish have to offer like selenium, niacin, potassium, and vitamin B12. You can tuna out and eat more lean meats but fish helps lower your heart disease risk.
3) EAT NUTSThe best nuts we've heard about are walnuts, almonds and pistachios but the Food and Drug Administration says a handful of nuts a day, including hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, peanuts, pine nuts, walnuts, and pistachios may reduce your risk of heart disease. Nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids which help keep artery walls healthy. But keep in mind to not go NUTS over NUTS! Nuts are high in calories. A small handful can be as much as 500 calories so stick with one small handful or 1/4 cup of nuts a day. This should equal about 200 calories. Think of sprinkling them into salads or adding to vegetables like green beans.
4) BE A VIRGINThe Food and Drug Administration recommends using about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet to getits heart-healthy benefits. At least we are starting to listen to the benefits of the Mediterranean diets rich in olive oil. Extra-virgin olive has even greater health benefits because the oil is less processed and contains more heart-healthy antioxidants. Think GREEN when you think of olive oil for the best cholesterol lowering properties. But like nuts, remember that olive oil is high in calories --about 119 calories in each teaspoon. Use it to saute vegetables instead of soaking it up with bread or add a spritzer to salads with a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.
ExerciseAnd after you eat, go out for a walk. Everyone needs to be more active! Walking ten minutes before or after each meal can result in thirty minutes of daily activity which is recommended to help lower high cholesterol levels equally as well.
Do you consciously eat for better health? What are some of your tips? Let me know at Andrea Metcalf.