When you talk about your arteries, you have to first start with the question: What is Cholesterol? Most people think cholesterol is a fat, but it’s actually a sterol which is a waxy, fatlike substance with a ringed structure not found in true fats. Cholesterol can combine with fat, calcium, and other substances in the blood to form plaque. Plaque then slowly builds up and hardens in the arteries, causing them to narrow. This buildup of plaque, a condition called atherosclerosis, can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Here are some amazing foods that can whittle down your cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, cool inflammation, neutralize damaging free radicals, and keep your heart pumping at a healthy beat.
Almonds – with the Skins.
A single fistful of almonds packs a whopping 9 grams of monounsaturated fat to help slash bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol. Simply choosing almonds instead of a doughnut or chips, or pretzels for two snacks a day could cut “bad” cholesterol by nearly 10 percent. Natural vitamin E in the almonds “meat” plus flavonoids in the nut’s papery skin help halt the development of artery-clogging plaque.
In a study from Mexico’s Instituto Mexicano del Seguro social, women and men who ate one avocado per day for a week had a reduction in total cholesterol of 17 percent. The amazing details: While their levels of unhealthy LDL and triglycerides fell, good HDL levels actually rose – Thanks, perhaps to the avocado’s high levels of “good” monounsaturated fat. This fatty fruit is also full of cholesterol cutting beta-sit sterol.
Fresh, sun-dried and in sauces. Eating seven or more servings per week cut risk of cardiovascular disease by 30 percent in a recent study of more than 35,000 women conducted by doctors at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The heart-smart factor? It could be the antioxidant lycopene or the tomato’s stellar levels of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Cooking tomatoes for 30 minutes or longer raises levels of available lycopene. And ¼ cup of sun dried tomatoes has more blood pressure-lowering potassium than a medium banana.
Salmon- Canned or Fresh
Among Omega 3- rich fatty fish, salmon is king. One serving contains about 1.8 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), important Omega 3s that help cut your risk of deadly out-of-rhythm heartbeats; reduce bad cholesterol; cool inflammation and may even discourage atherosclerosis and the formation of blood clots.
Old fashioned Oatmeal
Beta glucan, the soluble fiber found in oats, acts like a sponge, trapping cholesterol-rich bile acids in the intestines and eliminating them. The result is lower “bad” LDL because there’s less cholesterol to be absorbed into the bloodstream. A big bowl of oatmeal per day (about 1 ½ cups) could cut cholesterol an extra 2 to 3 percent suggest a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Make a commitment today to protect your arteries, and your heart will thank you for it!
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