cholesterolCholesterol is your heart’s greatest enemy, and hand-in-hand with the accompanying triglycerides effectively (and grave-ly) clot your blood. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood are raised by saturated fat found in meats, full-fat dairy products like butter, cheese and whole milk.

Saturated fat also harms your arteries. Eating too much of this dangerous fat, over time, will build up plaque damaging your blood vessels, making your arteries stiff and inflexible. In fact, eating a high fat meal will make your arteries up to 27% less elastic within 6 hours. If your arteries can not stretch when your blood pumps through them, it places a huge burden on your heart. Here are several ways to lower cholesterol levels and improve your health.

  • Choose fats that are liquid at room temperature – like extra virgin olive oil, canola or peanut oils which will help reduce your total cholesterol.
  • Avoid trans fats – found in hydrogenated vegetables shortenings and margarine. They undergo a process that makes them even worse for your arteries than even saturated fats. They actually raise the LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower the HDL (good) cholesterol which is doubly bad for your heart.
  • Eat nuts – they will help lower your bad cholesterl and elevate the food plus add fiber and flavor to any meal.
  • Eat the Mediterranean style diet that focuses fruits, vegetables, oils, nuts, whole grains, legumes and fish. When meat is eaten, it is in small portions.
  • Do you like spinach and carrots? They contain LUTEIN, a pigment found in green and yellow vegetables and has been touted as being good for your eyes. It turns out this important nutrient is good for the heart too. Other choices include kale, collard greens, turnips, romaine lettuce, croccoli, zucchini, corn, brussel sprouts and peas.
  • Get enough FIBER – when it comes to lowering cholesterol and protecting your heart, you can not beat fiber especially when it comes to losing weight and lowering your risk of heart disease. Eat whole grains, oats, ground flaxseed, fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Are you getting enough magnesium? Studies have linked magnesium deficiency to increased cancer risk, however, this mineral will help lower your cholesterol and can cut the death rate in half when given immediately after a severe heart attack. Good sources include avocados, sunflower seeds, pinto beans, spinach, oysters and broccoli.
  • Vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant vitamin that helps prevent the BAD cholesterol LDL from becoming oxidized and can help raise the GOOD cholesterol. Good sources include red and green peppers, oranges, cantaloupe, brussel sprouts, grapefruit and tomato juice.
  • Vitamin E – also prevents the BAD cholesterl from oxidizing and sticking to your artery walls. Good sources include wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, peanuts, mangoes, sweet potatoes and olive oil.
  • Niacin – this is a B-vitamin that works very well to lower cholesterol, however, high doses can cause flushing, rash and stomach pain. To get your niacin naturally, eat tuna, chicken, salmon, potatoes and beans.

Good nutrition plays a huge role when it comes to lowering cholesterol and being good to your heart. Take it one step at a time by making healthier substitutions to your diet such as choosing vanilla soy milk or almond milk instead of whole milk. Add some fiber to your meals, eat less meat or choose buffalo instead of ground beef or steak. Exercise and make a point of filling half your plate with vegetables. You will lower your cholesterol, and your heart will thank you.

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