If you’re used to automatically thinking that cholesterol is bad for you, here’s news: At healthy levels, this natural substance isn’t a demon at all. Your body uses this soft, waxy material every day to build cell membranes and to produce sex hormones, vitamin D, and fat digesting bile acids.
But modern day cholesterol levels are out of balance – and it’s not simply a matter of too much. We eat too many “bad fats” – saturated fats and artificial trans-fatty acids that raise levels of heart-threatening LDL cholesterol. We consume too little of the “good fats” – the unsaturated fats omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like nuts and fish – that protect levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. And we skip exercise, the key to keeping LDLs lower and HDLs higher.
The result? Not just dangerously high cholesterol but also dangerously out-of-balance levels of good HDLs and bad LDLs. The latest research on heart health shows that ignoring this balance, by focusing solely on lowering your cholesterol, can lead to trouble. Cutting-edge cardiologists are finding that the higher you HDLs and the lower your LDLs, essentially, the closer you can come to the “natural” cholesterol balance human were meant to have. It’s the most powerful way to lower your risk for clogged arteries, heart attacks, and strokes. At the same time, maintaining healthy levels of another important, though less well-know, blood fat called triglycerides, is important too.
Today I want to focus on 8 ways to lower LDLs. Again, simply put, high LDLs raise your risk for heart attack or stroke. Lower levels reduce your risk.
Cut trans fats out of your diet
Eat chopped vegetables instead of snack crackers, and fruit instead of boxed cookies or store-bought cakes and pastries. Choose margarines that clearly state on the label that they contain no trans fats, too. Trans fats are worse for your heart than saturated fats because they boost levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease “good” HDL cholesterol. Avoiding these processed fats could cut your heart attack risk by 55 percent!
Keep your slow-cooker on the counter and actually use it
Eating leaner cuts of meat can cut your LDLs because you’re getting less cholesterol-raising saturated fat in every bite. Low-fat meats can be tough; cooking them in a slow cooker is an easy way to tenderize without adding lots of fat.
Make your own salad dressing
Use olive oil and vinegar or lemon juices, spices, and crushed garlic. You’ll get more cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fat and avoid the trans fat and saturated fats swimming in most bottled dressings – especially the creamy types!
Sit down to a steaming bowl of Oatmeal most mornings
Oats are packed with soluble fiber called beta glucan that whisks excess cholesterol out of your body. Having 1 ½ cups of oatmeal on a regular basis could lower your LDLs by 12 to 24 percent.
Have a pear or a grapefruit half every morning
Both fruits are rich in pectin, another soluble fiber that helps lower LDLs. Other great pectin sources are apples and all types of berries.
Devote 10 minutes a day to resistance training exercise
Women who did 45 to 50 minutes of muscle building resistance training exercises three times a week lowered their LDL levels by 14 percent. If you can’t do that much start with 10 minutes. You can work your way up and anything here helps.
Eat six small meals per day
In a large British study, people who “grazed” throughout the day had lower cholesterol levels than those who ate big meals twice a day.
Avoid saturated Fat Traps
Your body uses saturated fats to produce LDLs. Overeating foods like cheesecake, cheeseburgers, premium ice cream, and steaks provides way too much raw material for producing this heart-threatening stuff. A better plan: Always stop and think before saying “yes” to the foods heavy with animal fat. Ask yourself: What could I have instead? The answer might be a fruit salad or a piece of grilled chicken or fish. Even just choosing a low-fat or fat-free helping of a frozen dessert such as sorbet is a much better choice.
These are 8 great ways to start guarding yourself again the #1 killer in America.
Start trying these out today. Your life depend on it!
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