Tips for a Healthy Cholesterol
Not all cholesterol is harmful, in fact, it's essential for our body to function! Let's take a look at how a well-balanced and anti-inflammatory diet can benefit our heart health and cholesterol levels.
Diet and nutrition recommendations around heart health have evolved over time – from choosing fat-free and cholesterol-free foods to not eating eggs, no wonder it’s difficult to keep up with the latest advice! While research has shown that eating eggs is perfectly fine, and are in fact very nutrient-dense, what are some other eating strategies that can attribute to a healthy heart and managing cholesterol levels? An anti-inflammatory eating pattern has been shown to support health and offer many benefits.
Foods that are considered anti-inflammatory provide antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals in the body. So, what the heck does that mean? Dietary antioxidants are substances found in food that may decrease the adverse effects of free radicals, which are unstable molecules that the body produces in reaction to environmental and dietary factors. Free radicals can damage cells when accumulated in the body, promoting illness and aging. Consuming a diet rich in plant-based food including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can provide the best sources of antioxidants, supporting our heart and overall health. Woo-hoo!
There are thousands of different food substances that can act as antioxidants. Examples include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, manganese, selenium, and zeaxanthin. Other common substances that have antioxidant and phytonutrient properties are flavonoids, catechins, and polyphenols.
Although there is no single anti-inflammatory diet, the best approach to manage inflammation is a diet rich in a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fiber, lean proteins, and nutritious fats. This approach to eating is nutritionally balanced and not overly restrictive.
Tips to Increase Antioxidant Intake
Here are a few tips to help you increase your antioxidant intake:
Include a fruit or veggie at all meals and snacks.
Incorporate green tea into your mornings or afternoons.
Make sure your plate is colorful, rather than mostly brown.
Use spices such as cinnamon, cumin, ginger, oregano, and turmeric in cooking.
Snack on nutritious fat sources like nuts and seeds.
Use monounsaturated fats in cooking like avocado, peanut, or olive oil.
Other Tips & Strategies for Heart Health
Some other eating strategies include choosing foods that are high in fiber. Many whole grains are good sources of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is made up of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber becomes a thick gel, slowing digestion and interfering with the absorption of fat and cholesterol in your bloodstream, which can help lower LDL (or the “bad”) cholesterol levels in the blood.
Dietary fats are also an essential part of a well-balanced diet. For example, fat-soluble vitamins need a certain amount of fat to be absorbed in the body. The type of fat that you eat impacts your blood cholesterol levels, too. Polyunsaturated fats like corn oil, soybean oil, and sesame oil, along with monounsaturated fats like olive oil and canola oil, can lower LDL cholesterol. Omega-3 fats from salmon, tuna, and walnuts can lower triglycerides, which promotes heart health.
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