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Q: I have just been diagnosed with high cholesterol. I have been told that there are certain foods that can help to lower my cholesterol levels naturally. Is this true?
A: Yes, this is indeed true. Unfortunately, high cholesterol levels and heart disease are common diagnoses causing significant health detriments on the lives of so many people in North America. Part of this dramatic rise of cholesterol levels is largely due to eating the wrong foods, lack of exercise and smoking, however, for others, a genetic tendency toward higher cholesterol levels can trigger this condition. In fact, the group of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins (i.e. lipitor) are being prescribed at a higher rate than ever generating billions of dollars for drug companies.
Although cholesterol-lowering medications are sometimes necessary, luckily, there are powerful nutritional steps that can be taken to lower cholesterol naturally. I recommend speaking openly with your doctor about the following options outlined below and together, you can work to keep your cholesterol levels in the healthy range.
Eliminate saturated fats such as full-fat cheeses and red meats such as beef, veal and pork from your diet. These foods are inflammatory and contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease. It is wiser to stick to healthier food choices that are heart healthy such as fish and low-fat dairy products.
Stay away from trans-fatty acids. These fats are chemical fats also called partially hydrogenated fats. They are now listed on food labels and are found in processed and packaged goods, margarines and snack foods. They raise cholesterol and have been indicated in heart disease and cancer cases.
Increase the fiber content of your diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Oat bran and flaxseeds are especially beneficial in lowering heart risk and cholesterol. Fiber mops ups excess cholesterol and has a lowering effect.
Enjoy garlic in as many recipes as you can for its cholesterol-lowering effects.
Eat 7 to 10 walnuts or almonds per day. Almonds and walnuts are loaded with beneficial fats called omega-3 fats which protect against heart disease and high cholesterol.
Maintain a healthy body weight. Individuals who are at a healthy body weight and exercise on a regular basis are at far less risk from developing high cholesterol.
When cooking, use the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, extra-virgin olive oil.
Limit the amount of refined sugar and refined flour consumption. A high intake of sugar has been linked with lowering of the good cholesterol called HDL.
In addition to the above nutritional tips, it is also important to supplement with minerals, vitamins and precious fats to keep cholesterol down and your heart healthy.
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