According to WebMD.com, nearly 42 million Americans have high cholesterol and 62 million are borderline. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is made by the liver and other cells in the body. It is also found in abundance in foods such as dairy, eggs and meats. We only need a certain amount of cholesterol for our bodies to function correctly so when there is an excess of bad cholesterol, it may build up in the arteries, eventually leading to heart disease. And while there is medication to help high cholesterol, it all starts with your diet.
Cleaning up your diet could mean lowering your cholesterol. Time Magazine reported a recent study released by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which showed patients with high or borderline cholesterol were able to lower their cholesterol levels by 14% over 6 months by eating a diet that was heavy in cholesterol lowering foods. This should come as no surprise since we know we pick up our excess cholesterol through the foods we eat so it makes sense that a diet with food that contain lower cholesterol will in turn, lower our own cholesterol levels.
Countless studies, including the recently released JAMA report, have shown that by adding or swapping out other foods with the following 4 super foods can greatly aid in the reduction of high cholesterol.
According to the MayoClinic.com, any oatmeal, oat bran or high-fiber foods can help lower cholesterol. These foods contain soluble fiber which may reduce cholesterol absorption into the bloodstream. Aim for 5-10 grams of soluble fiber a day to help decrease your cholesterol levels.
The addition of peanuts, walnuts, almonds or any other unsalted and un-sugared nuts can help reduce help blood cholesterol by keeping blood vessels healthy. Because nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, they are among the better fats to consume. High in calories, the FDA recommends only about a handful or 1.5 ounces a day.
Also discussed on Good Morning America (GMA), substituting soy products for meat and dairy can help reduce cholesterol. The market for soy product has exploded in the past few years, meaning better tasting foods and more options. Not only is soy milk high in protein and fiber, it has almost no cholesterol and is low in saturated fat.
- Plant Oils or Sterols
Reading labels has never been more important - there are now products that are available that contain sterols or stanols, naturally found in plants that block bad cholesterol absorption. Foods that have added sterols or stanols include margarine, orange juice and yogurt drinks.
While the JAMA report did not restrict the diet of the participants of the study, study leader Dr. David Jenkins, chair of nutrition, metabolism and vascular biology at the University of Toronto did instruct them to aim for certain amounts of each category per day: 20 grams fiber, 40 grams of soy and nuts and 2 grams of plant sterol.
By substituting or adding these 4 foods to their diets, it may be possible for people to successfully lower their bad cholesterol and hopefully, their risk for heart disease.