According to Janet Bond Brill, PhD, RD, LDN, a nutrition and fitness expert and author of Cholesterol Down, there are natural ways to lower your cholesterol. “Statins are a miracle drug, but they put a Band-Aid on the problem. You can get your cholesterol down with the most powerful medication there is – what you choose to put in your mouth, and exercise,” she said. Here are nine heart healthy things Dr. Brill suggests you put in your mouth each day:
Oatmeal – Preferably steel cut, is high in soluble fiber, which reduces the body’s absorption of cholesterol from the intestines, lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Unsalted raw almonds – Almonds are an amazing source of healthy fat and disease-busting antioxidants. And research shows that a daily handful of the tasty nuggets can lower your LDL numbers.
Ground flax seed – Flax seed’s health benefits come from high fiber and heart-healthy omega-3s, and may help reduce both total blood cholesterol and LDL.
Psyllium husk – Many studies suggest that diets high in water-soluble fiber such as psyllium husk can lower your triglyceride levels. And psyllium may also help to stabilize blood sugar levels, a definite plus for heart health.
Beans – Beans have cholesterol-lowering fiber, but they also contain phytonutrients that may play key roles in cholesterol reduction.
Apples – Polyphenols, antioxidant compounds found in apples, may help inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is the process that leads to plaque buildup in the arteries. Apples are also a good source of soluble fiber.
Plant sterols and stanols – Plant sterols and stanols are naturally occurring compounds found in plant cell membranes. They are structurally similar to the body’s cholesterol, so when you consume them, they compete with cholesterol for absorption in the digestive system, helping to block cholesterol. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that those with high cholesterol consume 2 grams of plant sterols and stanols daily, which can be found in fortified milk, yogurt or juices or in supplement form.
Soy protein – Numerous studies have demonstrated that including soy protein in the diet, especially in place of animal proteins, reduce both LDL and total cholesterol, especially in those with high cholesterol levels.
Garlic – Some studies have suggested that garlic can have a modest effect on lowering LDL levels.
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By Linda Hepler, BSN, RN