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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lower Cholesterol, Naturally

How's your cholesterol? The good news is that lowering your cholesterol down to a safer level could be easier than you think. In fact, with simple lifestyle modifications people often see significant reductions in cholesterol within six weeks.

Get going right now, with these 10 easy, all natural tips:

Get Moving

Whether your goal is to lower your cholesterol, shed some extra pounds, or both, regular exercise can help you get there. I’m not talking about high-intensity workouts, either, though boosting your intensity can elevate HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Walking and other, more moderate physical activities are good for your heart, too. Walking is one of the simplest, safest and least expensive LDL-lowering strategies. Walking just 30 minutes a day protects the heart by increasing the size of LDL particles (bigger is better), decreasing inflammation and targeting dangerous belly fat. Just remember to pick up the pace, because faster is better for health and longevity. Whichever activity (or activities) you choose, just make sure you're doing it for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.

Shed a Few Pounds

If you weigh more than you should, slimming down may produce a significant drop in your cholesterol level. In fact, shedding just 5 to 10 pounds may be enough to improve your cholesterol level. If you’re making sure to fit in some workouts into your daily routine, you’ll already be on your way to shedding a few pounds!

Limit Animal Products

In general, cutting your dietary saturated fats will lower cholesterol. Peanut butter, avocados, olive and canola oils, and most nuts are mostly monounsaturated fat (fat that can help lower LDL and triglycerides while raising HDL). It's a much healthier choice than saturated fat, found primarily in animal products--meats, butter, full-fat milk and cheese. Saturated fat can elevate your cholesterol level more than anything else you might eat.

Eat More Fiber, Particularly Beans

Fruits & vegetables, including whole grains, are good sources not only of heart-healthy antioxidants but also cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber. Soluble fiber, in particular, can help lower cholesterol. It acts like a sponge to absorb cholesterol in the digestive tract.

Except for your morning wheat bran, no food is more fiber-rich than beans. And beans are especially high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Eating a cup of any type of beans a day-particularly kidney, navy, pinto, black, chickpea, or butter beans-can lower cholesterol by as much as 10 percent in 6 weeks.

Soluble fiber forms a gel in water that helps bind acids and cholesterol in the intestinal tract, preventing their re-absorption into the body. This may be why soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol levels (and decreases the risk of heart disease). Soluble fiber is also found in oats and oat bran, barley, brown rice, beans, apples, carrots, and most other fruits and vegetables.

Keep your cupboards stocked with canned beans of all kinds: black, white, kidney, fat-free refried, etc. You'll always have the makings of a delicious, healthful dinner on hand. Beans add protein and fiber to any dish and can be used in salads, stuffed baked potatoes, veggie chili, or pureed for sandwich spreads. And since they come in cans, beans are handy to use. But remember to rinse canned beans first--they're packed in a high-sodium liquid.

Savor Dark Organic Chocolate

Want to help your heart the next time you indulge in chocolate candy? Choose the dark (at least 70% or more), organic kind. Compared to milk chocolate, it has more than three times as many antioxidants. These flavonoid antioxidants work to keep blood platelets from sticking together and may even help keep your arteries unclogged. Unfortunately, white chocolate has no flavonoids at all. Savor one small square each day, for your health!

Eat Apples

An apple a day keeps the cardiologist away. They serve up a cholesterol-lowering fiber called pectin. Another ingredient in apples, called polyphenols, functions as a strong antioxidant and prompts the liver to clear LDL cholesterol. Eating the apple skin ensures the highest level of antioxidant intake.

Drink Green

Research in both animals and humans has shown that green tea contains compounds that can help lower LDL cholesterol. Green tea is available in a variety of different flavors for you to find one that suits your taste buds!

Eat Garlic

Garlic is a regular chemical factory, with lots of active ingredients that not only lower LDL, but also function as powerful antioxidants and blood thinners. Garlic lowers LDL by dampening the activity of the main cholesterol-producing enzyme in the liver. Eating as little as a clove a day has been shown to rev up the body’s ability to dissolve blood clots, which can precipitate a heart attack by sealing off plaque-filled arteries.

Eat Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are a wonderful plant source of omega-3 anti-inflammatory fats, a plus in countering the inflammatory disorder atherosclerosis. Two other components of flaxseeds actually target LDL cholesterol: lignan and fiber. Lignans are hormone-like plant chemicals that function as powerful antioxidants and dampen the actions of two key cholesterol-producing enzymes. Be sure to eat only ground flaxseeds, or else their thick coating inhibits digestion. Keep flaxseeds (ground or whole) in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent spoiling.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking lowers levels of HDL "good" cholesterol and is a major risk factor for heart disease.

WAIT: Check This Out!!!!

Andrea Beaman just posted a really interesting article on her website called The Cholesterol Myth. It's interesting and definitely worth giving a quick read. She talks about the importance of cholesterol as well as certain factors that may be contributing to high cholesterol levels. I LOVE her!!!!!!

Keep it fresh!
- Lauren

1 comment:

  1. I'm disheartened by the fact that even in such a great blog, we are still being fed the cholesterol myths.

    We should not be limiting our consumption of good quality animal products, which have been a staple in human nutrition for ages. Instead we should be limiting our consumption of overly processed vegetable oils (well, overly processed anything actually) along with refined grains & sugars & all other disease-causing products that have emerged in the last 50 years. We should be keeping our heart healthy & eating a diet of whole, organic & fresh foods! I could go on, but you should just read "Nourishing Traditions."

    The good news is that you redeemed yourself by posting Andrea's article. She rocks.

    And I still like your blog.