American Heart Month is coming to a close, but don’t let that be an excuse to forget about eating for your heart! Diet can play an important role in lowering your cholesterol. Here are five foods that can lower your cholesterol and protect your heart.
1. Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods
Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol.
2. Fish and omega-3 fatty acids
Eating fatty fish can be heart-healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. Doctors recommend eating at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in such fish as salmon, sardines, albacore tuna and halibut, to name a few. Be sure bake or grill the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats.
3. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts
Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy. According to the FDA, eating about a handful a day of most nuts may reduce your risk of heart disease. Just make sure the nuts you eat aren’t salted or coated with sugar.
4. Olive oil
Olive oil contains mix of antioxidants that can lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol but leave your “good” (HDL) cholesterol untouched. The FDA recommends using about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet to get its heart-healthy benefits.
5. Foods with added plant sterols or stanols
Foods are now available that have been fortified with sterols or stanols — substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol.
Margarines, orange juice and yogurt drinks with added plant sterols can help reduce LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent. The amount of daily plant sterols needed for results is at least 2 grams — which equals about two 8-ounce servings of plant sterol-fortified orange juice a day.
What are your favorite ways to include these foods daily?
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