So what is too high when it comes to cholesterol? There are a few important markers your doctor will test for and here are the recommended levels:
·Total cholesterol- under 200 milligrams of cholesterol per deciliter of blood (mg/dL).
·LDL or "bad" cholesterol- this is the type contributes the most to buildup in the arteries- under 100 mg/dL
·HDL or "good" cholesterol- this type actually helps keep arteries clear- above 60 mg/dL
·Triglycerides- an additional type of fat in the blood- below 150 mg/dL
Because people with high cholesterol are at a greater risk of heart disease, it's important to take steps to keep levels in the healthy range. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising and eating a healthy diet can all lower cholesterol.
Here are some foods to eat to help improve your lipid (fat) levels.
Oats and Barley- When it comes to heart health, we always mention oatmeal. But other grains, like barley, are also a healthy pick. Both are packed with fiber, which helps keep you full for longer so you reach for the chips less. But fiber does more than just keep you slim. Soluble fiber, the kind that the body can digest, seems to reduce the amount of cholesterol the body absorbs from the intestines, lowering total cholesterol and LDL or "bad" cholesterol in the process.
Fish- Fatty fish and the right seafood can lower cholesterol for a couple of reasons. First, eating more fish might mean that you're replacing meat in your diet, and meat contains more LDL-boosting saturated fats. Second, fish like salmon, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower triglycerides.
Nuts- Toss them in salads, sprinkle them on oatmeal or snack on them by the perfectly-portioned handful. Just about any variety of nuts can lower total cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride levels, according to a 2010 analysis of data from 25 studies on nut consumption.
Olive oil- Swapping the saturated fats found in butter for the unsaturated ones in oils is a good idea for both your waistline and your heart. Doing so can help reduce total cholesterol, but using olive oil in particular may also increase HDL, or "good" cholesterol.
Apples- a medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of LDL-lowering soluble fiber, or about 17 percent of your recommended daily intake. An apple a day can keep the heart doctor away!
Strawberries- are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that can lower LDL. One study found that supplementing a heart-healthy diet with strawberries had similar results to adding oats to a heart-healthy diet!
Citrus Fruits- You'll also find pectin in oranges, grapefruits and other citrus fruits. And adding more fiber to your diet can lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation, both of which help your heart.
Beans and Lentils- Kidney, navy, garbanzos- your favorite beans and lentils are all great sources of soluble fiber, which helps keep you full and can reduce cholesterol. A 2008 study from Arizona State University found that people who ate a half-cup of beans a day (at the time, the recommended amount according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans) over a 24-week period lowered their cholesterol by 8 percent.
Soy- Like with fish, if you're eating soy, there is a chance that you're eating less meat, which is higher in saturated fat and cholesterol. Soy is unique in the fact that it's a great source of protein, and yet it's free of any animal products, so it's also cholesterol free. A 2010 study found that eating soy can result in a moderate 8 to 10 percent decrease in total cholesterol.
Red Wine- You probably already know that a little alcohol - in moderation of course – can be good for you. Part of the reason why? A 2000 study established that an occasional glass of wine can raise HDL, or "good" cholesterol. Red wine may be particularly beneficial, since it's rich in antioxidants, which may lower LDL levels. (women no more than 1 glass per day, men no more than 2 glasses per day).
Avocados- Like olive oil, avocados are rich in cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats found in avocados may lower LDL and raise HDL- but probably only if you are replacing unhealthier dietary fats with these heart-healthy ones. Put a few slices of avocado on a sandwich instead of mayonnaise, use some on your morning toast instead of butter.
Green Tea- The miracle drink has been linked to everything from fighting cancer to keeping the mind sharp, but few studies have truly explained why green tea is such a powerful health elixir and just how much of it you'd need to drink to see results. While it does appear to lower "bad" cholesterol, it's only a slight reduction- and you'd probably have to drink quite a few mugs full to see a difference. Chugging green tea isn't a good idea for everyone; it can interfere with some medications. Try a cup of this tea instead of coffee loaded with sugar and creamer for a fresh and lighter morning routine.
(Adapted from The Huffington Post | By Sarah Klein)
Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew with Quinoa
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1½ t. ground cumin
½ t. ground ginger
Kosher salt and pepper (optional)
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 med sized head cauliflower, cored and cut into small florets
½ c. sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1 5- oz package baby spinach, chopped
1 c. quinoa
Heat the oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, 4-5 min. Add the cumin, ginger, ¼ t. salt, and ¼ t. pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 min. more.
Add the tomatoes and their liquid (crush the tomatoes with your hands as you add them), chickpeas, cauliflower and 1 c. water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the liquid has thickened slightly, 15-20 min. Fold in the spinach and cook until wilted, 1-2 min. more.
Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to package directions. Serve with the stew and sprinkle with almonds.
Enjoy! And have a wonderful week!
For more information contact:
Carena Lowenthal, MS, RD, CDN