Sunday, November 21, 2010

Taken from Dr Fit

Cholesterol Reducing Diet

If you’ve recently undergone blood work that raised a cholesterol red flag, chances are you are ready to make the necessary lifestyle changes to lower your cholesterol. Doctors often prescribe medications designed to lower cholesterol, but a few simple diet changes can also do wonders for high cholesterol. In fact, there are natural foods that not only lower your cholesterol, but improve your overall heart health as well.

While these diet changes definitely call for cutting out fried foods and fatty cuts of meat, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor too. In fact, you may already be eating many of the heart-healthy, cholesterol lowering foods dietitians and doctors recommend and not even know it.
Fiber tends to be a scary word, especially when it comes to your diet, but the truth is more experts than ever are promoting whole grain and high fiber diets to help lower cholesterol, improve circulation and heart health.
Fiber doesn’t have to come in bland supplements or drinks. In fact, you’d be surprised how many tasty, natural foods already contain fiber. Raw fruits and vegetables, for example, are a delicious source of natural fiber and part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Whole grain breads and cereals are also a great way to increase your daily fiber intake. Processed, bleached grains may taste good, but the processing robs them of the nutritious elements and fiber your body needs.
Fiber helps reduce cholesterol by trapping it in the intestines before it can enter into your bloodstream. It then expels the cholesterol and other waste from the body in the stool. Does this mean you can eat a juicy hamburger on a whole grain bun? No, it doesn’t, but if you do happen to eat a little more saturated fat than you should, whole grains and fiber can help reduce the dangerous levels of cholesterol that enter into your blood and potentially clog and harden arteries.
Cooked dried beans are another good source of fiber and healthy vitamins. In fact, eating beans three to four times a week has been shown to significantly improve cholesterol. One of the best parts about beans is they’re incredibly versatile, so you can experiment with hundreds of different dishes and never get tired of the same old thing.
Nuts like walnuts and almonds contain polyunsaturated fat acids, which make your blood vessels more pliable and improve your overall blood flow. Nuts tend to be very high in calories though, so limit yourself to 1/3 cup and no more each day.
Fish is literally one of the heart-healthiest foods you can eat. Not all fish, of course, but fatty fishes packed with Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and improve your heart health. Adding fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel and lake trout to your regular diet at least two times a week can significantly lower your cholesterol over time. Not a fan of fish? You can take Omega-3 fish oil supplements and achieve many of the same overall goals, but for the full benefit, eating fish itself is a must.
Extra-virgin olive oil has numerous heart-healthy and cholesterol lowering benefits, and the beautiful thing is how versatile it is. It can be used to sauté vegetables in place of butter or other oils, in marinades mixed with vinegar for light, healthy salad dressing and as a replacement for butter when basting meats and breads. Much like nuts, olive oil is very fattening, so make sure you don’t overdo it. The recommended daily allowance for olive oil is two tablespoons.
Limiting your intake saturated fat from dairy products like whole milk, cheese, sour cream and yogurt is important as well. The good thing is, low and non-fat milk products are just as good and still contain the necessary nutrients and vitamins whole-fat dairy products contain. So you get the delicious taste without the fat and all the healthy benefits.

Sitting down and talking with a licensed dietitian can help you plan a heart-healthy, cholesterol lowering diet. Dietitians can help you set up meal plans, learn how to read labels for unhealthy ingredients so you can pass them by without a second thought.
In today’s world, we tend to grab our food and go, and this is one of the reasons our cholesterol levels are so high. We rely on fast food restaurants and quick fixes to make sure we satisfy our appetites without offering our body the nutrition it requires to function at its best.
Combined with regular exercise, significant rest and stress reduction, a healthy diet containing the above-mentioned foods can make a major impact on your cholesterol. Unfortunately, eating your way to lower cholesterol numbers isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes time to undo years of damage, so make sure you’re prepared to make lifelong changes and stick to them.

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