Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can significantly decrease the risk of developing heart disease or cardiovascular disease; and having a heart attack or stroke. Cholesterol is a fat vital to health, made by the liver and found in the blood and in every cell in the body. Cholesterol is also found in certain foods, which are introduced into the body through eating; consisting of about 20% of the body’s total cholesterol.
There are two main types of cholesterol; low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is considered the bad cholesterol because it can build up on artery walls, which leads to blood clots and blocked blood flow. HDL is the healthy cholesterol as it moves away from artery walls and can help carry away the LDL cholesterol.
There are foods that have been found to raise LDL blood cholesterol levels; whereas, other types of foods have been found to lower them. Foods to avoid that raise LDL levels are foods with saturated and trans fats. These unhealthy fats are found in foods like red meat, shrimp, egg yolks, high-fat milk products, butter, vegetable oils, hydrogenated oil, deep-fried foods and processed foods.
Foods that contain soluble fiber have been recognized to lower LDL cholesterol levels, moving the cholesterol away from artery walls; these foods include oatmeal, kidney beans, brussels sprouts, apples, pears, prunes, avocados, psyllium and barley.
Poly-saturated fatty acids found in walnuts and almonds have been recognized for their ability to also remove unhealthy LDL cholesterol from artery walls and through the blood. Omega-3 fatty acids move LDL cholesterol out of the body through the blood much like poly-saturated fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in flax seed and fish like sardines, wild Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout.
A well-balanced diet of fresh whole foods and keeping an active lifestyle will help in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and preventing heart disease. Choosing fresh colourful fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts, whole grains, beans, lentils and lean white meats will provide the body with the vitamins, minerals, nutrients, protein and dietary fibre it needs to stay healthy.
How your food is cooked can also heavily influence how nutritious and healthy it ends up being by the time it reaches your plate. The healthiest methods to prepare food is by steaming, baking and lightly pan-frying over low heat. High-heat frying and deep-frying can saturate foods in oil and heat oil past its burning point which can add toxins to the food. Boiling foods can leach the nutrition from your food and hard-boiling can destroy the value of the nutrients.
Reducing stress through practicing techniques like meditation, breathing exercises or tai-chi can also offer a significant positive impact to cholesterol and heart disease. It is advised to get between 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise daily to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and for the maintenance of overall good health.
To determine whether someone is at risk of high cholesterol, a blood test can be ordered by a family doctor. Conditions that can put people at risk of unhealthy cholesterol include smoking, alcoholism, lack of exercise, high-stress, excess weight, a high-fat diet or have a family history of the condition. It is never too late to make changes to your diet and lifestyle that will extend the length and quality of your life.
Written by: J. Marshall
Try my Custard Apple Pie with Pecan Crumble Top recipe! Apples and oatmeal are excellent healing food sources for cholesterol and heart disease.
Try my Lemon Garlic Trout recipe! Trout is an excellent healing food for cholesterol and heart disease.
• Prevention: http://www.prevention.com/health/how-to-lower-cholesterol-naturally/slide/11
• Heart and Stroke Canada: http://www.heartandstroke.ca/heart/risk-and-prevention/condition-risk-factors/high-cholesterol
• Health Canada / Canada’s Food Guide: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php
• Dietitians of Canada / Food Sources of Cholesterol: http://www.dietitians.ca/Downloads/Factsheets/Food-Sources-of-Cholesterol.aspx
• Health Canada / Ground Flax Lowers Cholesterol: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/claims-reclam/assess-evalu/flaxseed-graines-de-lin-eng.php
• Dr Axe – Food is Medicine / Top 12 Cholesterol Lowering Foods: https://draxe.com/cholesterol-lowering-foods/
• Harvard Health Publications / How to Lower Your Cholesterol Without Drugs: http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/how-to-lower-your-cholesterol-without-drugs
• Heart UK / The Cholesterol Charity: https://heartuk.org.uk/cholesterol-and-diet/six-super-foods-for-lower-cholesterol
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