Due to today’s diet and lifestyle, many people can find themselves with high or elevated cholesterol levels. Although there are no outward symptoms of elevated cholesterol, over time it can clog up your arteries and its impact can be devastating over time, leading to very serious health problems.
Lowering your cholesterol starts with the foods you eat - and the foods you choose not to eat. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In fact, both Western and Chinese medicine alike recognize the importance of diet when battling high cholesterol, and eating improper foods such as animal fat, simple sugar, and processed foods, can trigger the digestive system to build up the amount of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) - also known as “bad” cholesterol - in the blood. This can then lead to life-threatening illnesses such as heart attacks, strokes, and, of course, clogged and hardened arteries.
Cholesterol, however, is a tricky condition. A person with high amounts of LDL cholesterol in their blood may have inherited the condition from a genetic predisposition, in which case, it may seem as if changing your diet won’t help. Happily for your health, this isn't true. Some patients with very high cholesterol have great success in improving their health by simply changing their diet and lifestyle. Keep in mind that these changes to your diet do not have to be massive, sweeping, all-or-nothing overhauls. If you have high cholesterol, start simple!
Try incorporating the following five foods into your diet. High in fiber and low in cholesterol, they will not only help to lower your LDL cholesterol levels, but can also benefit your body's overall health.
1. Apples: A study was conducted recently in Finland to determine whether or not eating apples can lower cholesterol. The results of this study determined that eating three apples a day for three months can help you drop your cholesterol level by twenty points. This is a result of the high amount of pectin found in apples, which is a source of dietary fiber that will draw LDL out of your system. Also, quercetin, an antioxidant, helps to inhibit the amount of LDL in the bloodstream. As autumn is a time for apples, be sure to take advantage of all of the tasty varieties that the season offers.
2. Spinach: Spinach, along with other green leafy vegetables, contains a carotenoid known as lutein. Lutein has been associated with the prevention of cholesterol buildup in the blood. With a little help from one or two helpings of fresh spinach, you'll be on your way to lower cholesterol levels in no time!
3. Oats: There are few things as satisfying as a warm bowl of oatmeal in the morning. Whole grain oats, like whole wheat, are a high-fiber grain. While whole wheat is helpful in lowering cholesterol, oats contain more soluble fiber and therefore are more likely to reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in your system. When eating foods containing oats, however, be sure to always eat whole grain oats, because the oats found in processed foods like granola bars often don't contain soluble fiber.
4. Homemade orange marmalade: Who would guess that this delicious fruity spread would also be good for lowering LDL cholesterol? Orange marmalade includes orange rind - which contains compounds known as polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs). PMFs are found in the pigment of orange peel and are responsible for lowering cholesterol, yet they don't reduce the level of good cholesterol. You can use orange rind in your cooking, as well.
5. Green tea: Green tea is beneficial for many conditions and ailments, and high levels of LDL cholesterol are no exception. Drink one cup of green tea daily and you may find that your high LDL cholesterol levels will say their final farewell. If you do not like green tea, you can also try an herbal tea such as Internal Cleanse, which contains chrysanthemum, hawthorn, cassia, lotus, and mulberry, which all help to support healthy cholesterol levels.
Remember, lowering your cholesterol starts with the foods you eat - and the foods you choose not to eat. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Eating the right foods can help you on the way to a long, healthy life. As always, talk to your physician before beginning a new health regime.
--Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on Dr. Oz, the Doctors and EXTRA. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness over 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310-917-2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at [email protected]
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