Having high cholesterol can put you at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Cholesterol is a fat that is naturally found in the body and a small amount of it is necessary for the proper functioning of our cell membranes. However, our bodies will naturally manufacture all of the cholesterol we need so there is no need to consume any more. Unfortunately, many of the foods that we eat as part of a regular diet are high in cholesterol, including commercially packaged baked goods, processed meats and butter.
Making small changes to your lifestyle and your diet can have a significant effect on your cholesterol levels. There are a few delicious and nutritious foods that you should be eating at least once per week (or more) in order to make a vast improvement on your health. If you are looking for more inspiration after reading this list, you can check out the Proactiv cholesterol-lowering recipes available online.
Here are a few examples:
Oatmeal for Breakfast
Instead of having bacon and eggs for breakfast, get used to having a warm, comforting and filling bowl of oatmeal at least a few days of the week. Oatmeal can make a delicious breakfast, especially when mixed with bananas, cashews, raspberries, raisins and low fat yogurt.
Oatmeal is high in soluble fibre, which will reduce your levels of LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol. This fibre will help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Also, the high fibre content of oatmeal will mean that you stay fuller for longer and you will not be tempted to snack on the saturated fat laden muffins or donuts in the office break room.
Fish for Dinner
Another way that you can improve your heart health is to incorporate fish into at least one or more of your weekly evening meals. Eating fish is very good for your heart, because it contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
This will help to reduce your blood pressure and decrease your risk of developing blood clots. Instead of having red meat in your evening meal, consider cooking up a nice salmon steak or a juicy fillet of halibut. Baking or grilling the fish is the healthiest way to cook it and you can be creative with the way you season it – such as adding glazes or a lemon sauce. When you are on the go, you could treat yourself to a tuna sandwich with low-fat mayo or pickle relish on whole grain bread. Whatever you do, don’t cook the fish by deep frying them. This will only serve to cancel out the health effects of eating the fish in the first place.
If you really can’t stand the taste of fish, you can also get more omega 3 fatty acids in your diet by eating flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil and fish oil supplements.
Quinoa Instead of Rice
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a grain which originates in South America in the Andean region of Ecuador as well as Columbia, Peru and Bolivia. It is a staple food in these cultures and it was revered by the Inca as a sacred crop, called the “mother of all grains”.
If you are looking to decrease your cholesterol levels, this grain is a great alternative to rice, wheat and other carbohydrates. One cup of cooked quinoa has 15% fewer carbohydrates and 60% more protein than the same amount of brown rice. It will also contain more fibre, which will further help you to reduce your cholesterol.
There are a number of ways that you can eat quinoa and it tastes great in fresh salads with juicy berries, dried fruit, feta cheese and spices. It can be tricky to cook at first, but once you get used it to you will love using this different and delicious grain. It is very easy to transport, which makes it great for carrying in your lunch.
These are just a few of the healthy foods that you should be eating at least once per week in order to decrease your cholesterol. With a healthy diet, you can greatly decrease your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Paul Simmons is a health buff, fitness guru and father of two. He shares tips on living healthy and spends his free time running with his dog Max.