Can Miracle Foods Lower Cholesterol?
Take Some Blueberries And Add Some Nuts...

Are there really any foods that genuinely help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol? As we said last week, the answer is a qualified yes. Part one looked at some specific foods reported to lower blood pressure. In part two, you'll learn that diet can be important in lowering your cholesterol as well. Adding these 5 healthy "super" foods (plus 6 "bonus" foods) to your diet may be enough to lower your cholesterol, help you stay off medications and protect your heart.

  1. Olive Oil
    Olive oil has two ingredients that can lower cholesterol levels. "Olive oil is monounsaturated fat, and it also has polyphenols," Andrea Beaman, a holistic health counselor, said. "And what those polyphenols do is they help to raise HDL, which is healthy cholesterol, and lower LDL, which is the unhealthy cholesterol." The FDA recommends 2 tablespoons of olive oil a day to reap the heart-healthy benefits.

  2. Oatmeal
    Oatmeal and other foods, such as apples, barley, pears, prunes and psyllium, contain soluble fiber, which lowers your LDL or "bad" cholesterol. Soluble fiber appears to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in your intestines. 5-10 grams of soluble fiber a day lowers LDL cholesterol by about 5 percent. Some studies showed that this amount can lower cholesterol by as much as 23 percent.

  3. Fish
    Fish is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids - which have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids also help the heart in other ways such as reducing blood pressure and the risk of blood clots. If you just don't like fish, you can get some benefits (though not all the nutrition) from an omega-3 or fish oil supplement.

  4. Nuts
    Nuts have omega-3 fats and antioxidants that work to reverse the arterial damage caused by saturated fats. Nuts are rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium. They are also high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which lower the bad LDL cholesterol.
  5. Walnuts, which are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, help keep blood vessels healthy and elastic. Almonds appear to have a similar effect and a Penn State study showed that eating pistachios significantly lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. But remember, nuts are high in calories, so you should limit yourself to 1-2 ounces a day.

  6. Foods Fortified With Plants Sterols/Stanols
    Plant sterols or stanols are powerful substances naturally found in plant to have the ability to block cholesterol absorption. Studies showed that eating two servings of sterols-fortified foods daily result in a 10-15 percent drop in LDL cholesterol, and they don't appear to affect levels of triglycerides or of "good" HDL cholesterol. Nor do they interfere with the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins -- vitamins A, D, E and K.

    Plant sterols can be found in fortified foods such as margarine spread, orange juice, salad dressings etc. It is important to note that plant sterols are not for everyone. The AHA recommends it only for people with high levels of LDL cholesterol (over 160).

    1. Blueberries
      A compound in blueberries (pterostilbene) may help lower cholesterol as well as commercial drugs and with fewer side effects.

    2. Grape, cranberry and pomegranate juices
      Antioxidants in grape juice slow down LDL cholesterol oxidation, cranberry juice raises good cholesterol and pomegranate juice reduces cholesterol plaque buildup and increases production of nitric oxide, which helps reduce arterial plaque. Just make sure it's 100% juice.

    3. Black soybeans
      While possibly lowering LDL cholesterol, black soybeans may also help prevent obesity and reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes.

    4. Yogurt with live active cultures (Probiotics)
      According to several studies, the probiotics Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lactobacillus Reuteri actually help lower cholesterol by preventing the reabsorption of cholesterol back in to the blood stream.

    5. Garlic
      Cooked or raw garlic both contain compounds that help lower your liver's production of cholesterol.

    6. Grapefruit
      A recent study found that people who ate a grapefruit daily saw a drop in their cholesterol. However, if you are on taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, check with your Health Guru before eating grapefruit.

    Remember, that eating (or overeating) any of these foods is not the answer. You will notice the most difference if you add many of them, in small amounts, throughout your diet. Keep an eye on your fat intake as well.

    Saturated fats raise your total cholesterol, and trans fats are particularly bad for your cholesterol levels because they raise LDL or "bad" cholesterol and lower HDL or "good" cholesterol. You should get less than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat, and try to eliminate trans fats altogether.

    In addition to your new heart-healthy diet, you will notice the most dramatic improvements in cholesterol with exercise, which increases the levels of good cholesterol in a way that any change in diet cannot match.

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