Lowering your cholesterol levels is in your hands. Diet changes can drastically improve your cholesterol health and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Take this quiz and find out how alcohol, fiber, fish, garlic and nuts can lower your cholesterol levels.
A moderate level of alcohol increases your good (HDL) cholesterol. Alcohol in moderation also decreases blood clotting and insulin resistance.
Not only does moderate alcohol use decrease heart disease risk, it also decreases risk of developing diabetes.
Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Keep in mind, one drink equals: 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer).
The French population has a lower incidence of heart disease compared to Americans due to a diet that includes larger amounts of red wine, fruits and vegetables.
There are several health benefits of fiber, including: improving intestinal health, preventing heart disease and cancer, reducing blood pressure and moderating blood sugar levels.
Fiber is found only in plant-based foods, such as: fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-grains and nuts.
Research suggests that soluble fiber is better at lowering cholesterol. Soluble fiber dissolves when mixed with water and can be found in a variety of foods, such as: oats, peas, beans, apples and citrus fruits.
Soluble fiber reduces the amount of bile reabsorbed into the intestines, which results in the liver producing a greater amount of bile salts. In order for the liver to make bile salts it needs cholesterol, ultimately resulting in a reduction of cholesterol in the blood stream.
It may not seem like a lot, but lowering your LDL cholesterol by 5 percent could have an impact on your cholesterol levels and overall health. The recommended daily dose of soluble fiber for individuals with high cholesterol is 10 to 25 grams.
Oat bran, psyllium, oatmeal and barley contain beta-glucan, which is a form of soluble fiber. Research has shown that beta-glucan can significantly lower cholesterol levels.
Some fish are rich in docosahexanoic and eicosapentaenoic, which are fatty acid and also known as omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce cholesterol levels.
Many different types of fish have high sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including: salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring and lake trout. More recently, omega-3 has also been added to many foods, including: eggs, margarine, pasta, milk and meat.
Avoid cooking fish in fat or lard, as this decreases the nutritional value of the fish. It is best to broil or bake fish to retain its nutritional goodness.
The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults, as well as adults with heart disease, eat two servings of fish per week.
It is recommended that someone with heart disease consume 1 gram of DHA and EPA per day, either through food or supplements.
Garlic in any form has health benefits, but raw garlic has the greatest medicinal effect.
The most recent research suggests that garlic can reduce cholesterol by 4 to 6 percent. Research in the 1990s, however, suggested that garlic could reduce cholesterol by 9 to 12 percent.
Almonds, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts can reduce cholesterol levels by 2 to 16 percent.
Nuts have several cholesterol-lowering ingredients, including: unsaturated fat, fiber, vitamin E, amino acids and plant sterols.
A little goes a long way. The American Food and Drug Administration recommends eating 1.5 ounces of nuts for lowering cholesterol levels.