My senior year of high school I went into my regular doctor for my physical and had routine blood work done. My cholesterol levels came back alarmingly high for an eighteen year old female. My doctor immediately hauled me back into the office to discuss ways to get that number lowered. He informed me about working out and how exercise can be an excellent way to get healthier, and that my diet needed to change. I ate fast food probably five days a week or so my senior year, blaming the lack of good meals on being so busy and not being home enough. I am happy to report that after finding a love for fitness and keeping better track of what I eat, my cholesterol is now at a healthy level.
MSN put out a list of 6 foods that can actually help lower one’s cholesterol. Foods to avoid are ones that are high in saturated fat, such as red meat, butter, and cheese. Also steer clear of fried foods and ones that contain high levels of trans fat. Enough of what you shouldn’t eat, here are some foods that you should put on your grocery list:
- Oranges. These fruits contain pectin, which forms a gooey mass in the stomach, trapping cholesterol before it can clog arteries. Oranges are also full of other nutrients, such as vitamin C, folate, and potassium. But you need to eat whole oranges in order to get the benefits.
- 2. Oats. Oatmeal is especially good to help lower cholesterol, but oat flour can also do the same. Oat flour can be substituted for regular flour, which can produce healthier foods when baking.
- Beans and Lentils. These legumes are high in soluble fiber, which is incredibly healthy for your heart. They can also be substituted for animal protein, which is usually high in saturated fat.
- Sardines. These are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to dramatically reduce blood levels of artery-clogging triglycerides.
- Pistachio Nuts. These are filled with phytosterols, natural plant compounds that block absorption of dietary cholesterol. Also good for your heart health are monosaturated fats, fiber, and antioxidants, which can all be found in pistachio nuts. Keep in mind that while they are healthy, they can also be full of calories, so eat in moderation.
- Chocolate. Yes! The one thing on this list that I actually enjoy! Dark chocolate has been shown to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and reduce the risk of getting blood clots. It is advised to stay away from chocolates that contain partially hydrogenated oil, palm-kernel oil, and other unhealthy additives.
*You can also go to http://health.msn.com/health-topics/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100246097 for healthy recipe suggestions!*
If you are like me and have a hard time fitting in the six foods listed above, do not give up! Find other healthy substitutions, such as I did when I found I had high cholesterol levels. I switched my milk from whole to skim, cut way back on my unhealthy habit of eating fast food, and found other products that help cut back on cholesterol, such as Cheerios and plain bagels.
And don’t forget working out! This is so important to help get healthier on all levels, not just limited to cholesterol. Especially try to get at least thirty minutes of cardiovascular activity about three days of week. Put all these tips together, and stay healthy this winter!