Like many dietary considerations, it's often more important what foods one avoids than what foods he eats. Cholesterol levels are no exception. A diet low in saturated and trans fats is the first defence against high cholesterol. However, certain foods work considerably well--with a healthy routine of exercise and dietary moderation--to lower low density lipoprotein cholesterol.
Cholesterol in the blood works to help cell formation, hormone production and other bodily functions. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered "good" cholesterol because it cleanses low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol from the blood system and breaks down plaque forming in the arteries. Having too much LDL cholesterol can cause a build-up of it in artery walls and lead to artherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke. Proper cholesterol levels are above 40mg/dl for HDL and below 160 mg/dl for LDL.
Omega-3 fatty acids--which are essential to human growth, development and brain function--work to lower high cholesterol. They can be found in fish such as halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna, or for a vegetarian diet in seaweeds and dark leafy green vegetables.
Eating daily oatmeal works to lower cholesterol. Oatmeal, oat cereals and breads are an easy and nutritious additive to a low-cholesterol diet. The soluble fibre that seems to do the trick is also found in fruits such as apples, pears and prunes.
Walnuts are an excellent source of polyunsaturated fats. Other nuts that have a lesser but still helpful role in lowering cholesterol are almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans and pistachios. Because proper weight maintenance is such an important ingredient of lowered cholesterol, nuts and their high-calorie content must be consumed in moderation to be effective.
There is a great deal of evidence supporting the link between the Mediterranean Diet and longevity. Although the diet is more about a healthful lifestyle of diet, exercise and moderation, a common ingredient in the diets of those living around the Mediterranean Sea is olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil lowers LDL without adversely affecting HDL and contains powerful antioxidants.
Because vegetarians in particular may have fewer cholesterol-fighting ingredients in their diets, adding flaxseed is an easy and effective way to lower cholesterol. Stirring ground flaxseed into yoghurt, sprinkling it on salads and cereals, adding it to batter or sprinkling whole flaxseed atop casseroles are all simple ways to include the healthful soluble fibre found in flaxseed to the diet.
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