- - Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sometimes we find ourselves in unhealthy relationships. Our hearts tell us they are not right, yet they still have a hold on us. In fact we make excuses to stay in the relationship or decide to kick the can down the road to be dealt with at a later date. But now is the time to take a stand and end our unhealthy relationship with low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. No more ifs, ands or buts about it. LDL cholesterol, “It’s over!”

LDL is frequently referred to as “bad” cholesterol because it can cause artery-clogging plaque to form within our blood vessels. This can decrease blood flow and cause heart attacks or strokes. In addition to decreasing our intake of saturated fats, maintaining a healthy weight, and being active, there are several foods that can help lower our LDL.

Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know About Cholesterol Lowering Foods:

Start your day with oatmeal. A bowl a day can keep our cholesterol away, or at least decrease it. Studies have shown that consuming 40-60 grams of oatmeal (approximately 1 bowl) can decrease cholesterol levels by up to 10 percent. What’s the reason behind this? Oats and oat bran are rich in soluble fiber. They dissolve in water to form a gooey, gel-like material that is believed to “snatch up” or “soak up” cholesterol in our intestines. This prevents it from being absorbed into our system and carries it out of our body as waste. In other words, it gets flushed out.
Get nutty. Walnuts, almonds, pistachios and pumpkin seeds are rich in mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These nutrients decrease cholesterol. In fact, one study showed that eating a handful of almonds a day lowered bad cholesterol by 4.4 percent. Doubling that to two handfuls a day lowered it by 9.4 percent. So the next time, consider reaching for nuts to top our salad, oatmeal, or other meals. Not only are they yummy, they are good for us.
• To bean or not to bean. That is NOT a question; nor does this need to be a Shakespearean tragedy. Beans are superfoods when it comes to soluble fiber. Studies have shown that consuming as little as half a cup of cooked beans a day can lower bad cholesterol by an average of 8 percent. Not all beans are created equal. Pintos and garbanzo beans seem to have the best effect.
Maintain a special place in our heart (and diet) for olive oil. Consuming more than four tablespoons a day has been shown to decrease our risk of having a heart attack, suffering from a stroke, or dying of heart disease. But that does not give carte blanche to go overboard. Even though it’s made of “healthy fats,” olive oil is still high in calories and should be used in moderation. Some fun and easy tips to integrate it into our meals include sautéing veggies in it; adding it to a marinade or mixing it with vinegar as a salad dressing; and substituting it for butter when basting meat or dipping for bread. Choose extra-virgin olive oil for a greater effect. Because it is less processed, it preserves more heart-healthy antioxidants.
Let’s make a toast with, and to, red wine. Red grapes, used to make red wine, contain a chemical called resveratrol that lowers bad cholesterol levels. Before we raise our wine goblets to celebrate the news, remember that too much of even a good thing can be harmful. If we don’t drink, not to worry. We can still receive the LDL-lowering effects of resveratrol from red, black, and purple grapes.

So there we have it. When it comes to ending our unhealthy relationship with bad cholesterol, release regrets, don’t think about any time as lost, and remember the benefits of moving on.

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