How to lower cholesterol
A new study finds cholesterol levels in the U.S. are dropping, but if yours is still too high, there are natural ways to lower it and reduce your risk of a heart attack, Newsmax reported.
According to the new study, 12.4 percent of adults have high cholesterol, compared to 18.3 percent who were in that category in 1999-2000.
“This is a big drop, which demonstrates that Americans do have the power to lower their cholesterol numbers and reduce their heart attack risk,” Dr. Chauncey Crandall tells Newsmax Health.
High cholesterol, which is defined as any measurement over 240n mg/dl, hikes the risk of heart attack, research finds.
“Our bodies need a certain amount of cholesterol to function properly,” says Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
But if that level is too high, these blood fats can coat our heart’s coronary arteries, narrowing them, which results in coronary heart disease, and ultimately can cause a heart attack, adds Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report.
Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are amongst the most prescribed medications in the world, but not everyone wants to take them, notes Crandall.
“Many people don’t want to take statins, either because of side effects, or they are resistant to starting a drug that they may need to take forever,” he says.
Fortunately, the foods you eat, along with your other healthy daily habits, can lower your cholesterol level. Here are Crandall’s top 10 tips.
1. Lose weight. Losing just five percent to 10 percent of your body weight will help improve your cholesterol level.
2. Exercise one hour daily. Even a brisk one-hour walk will help lower cholesterol, high blood pressure, and build up your heart’s collateral blood flow.
3. Eat a heart healthy diet. Eat meals comprised largely of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, with moderate amounts of protein, primarily from fish or chicken.
4. Start your day with oatmeal. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which turns into a gel in the body, which helps you feel full and also interferes with the digestion of cholesterol, whisking it our of your body. Oat bran and cold oat cereals, like Cheerios, do this as well.
5. Bulk up on beans. A recent study found that eating one serving of high-fiber beans (or peas, chickpeas or lentils) translated into a five-point dip in LDL “bad” cholesterol.
They also are low on the glycemic scale, so they won’t hike blood sugar, and can be used instead of animal protein to induce a feeling of fullness after eating.
6. Eat an apple a day. Like beans and oatmeal, apples are rich in soluble fiber, which means they help reduce cholesterol.
A recent study by University of Illinois researchers also found that apples reduce inflammation associated with heart disease, and may enhance the immune system as well.
7. Practice stress reduction. When we’re under stress, our bodies respond by pumping up hormones, including cortisol, the so-called “stress” hormone. Research finds that, over the long term, too much cortisol in our blood is associated with higher cholesterol levels.
8. Sleep more. Sleep deprivation hikes cholesterol levels.
It can also raise blood pressure, and studies find people tend to compensate for their sleep loss by eating, particularly junk food. Aim for 8-10 hours a night.
9. Dust your food with cinnamon. In one study, Pakistani researchers found that about ½ tablespoon of cinnamon daily cut total cholesterol 26 percent. Cinnamon is a wonderful spice, and can give a double boost of cholesterol-lowering power when sprinkled on other beneficial foods, like oatmeal and apples.
10. Eat a handful of almonds daily. All tree nuts help reduce LDL cholesterol, but almonds may be especially beneficial. A study published last August found that these nuts might boost levels of HDL-cholesterol, the so-called “good” cholesterol, while improving the way that the body eliminates blood fats from the body.
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