September - cholesterol awareness month

September Is Cholesterol Awareness Month – Part 2

More about cholesterol

In part one of this series of articles for Cholesterol Awareness Month, we learned some of the important facts that we need to know about cholesterol and how it can affect our health.  In part two we're going to learn about some healthy foods to add to the diet which can help to reduce cholesterol and support better overall health.

Good for you food choices

Let's start by remembering that if a label says the product is low-fat or fat-free this often means it's been adulterated with chemicals that are probably not good for your health.  For optimal health it's important to avoid a highly processed SAD (Standard American Diet) plan and instead eat real, whole foods which are delicious as well as nutritious.

Omega 3 fatty acids

These are excellent for heart health.  Unfortunately our modern diet tends to be very high in omega 6s and does not include nearly enough omega 3s 

  • cold water fatty fish – such as salmon, tuna, and sardines,
  • walnuts
  • flax seeds

Fiber

Adding fiber to your diet is a great idea not only for cardiac health but also for gut health.  Helping to form bulk for your stools it also provides prebiotics, the food that the probiotics in your gut need to live.  

  • Whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, oatmeal (old fashioned rolled oats, oat groats, or steel-cut, NOT instant)
  • Legumes – beans, lentils, chickpeas

Note: if you're not used to eating fiber start slow as too much can cause intestinal distress.  

Olive oil 

A delicious way to cook, dress salads, or create a dipping sauce, olive oil is a heart-healthy food that you want to make sure is part of your pantry.  Be sure to choose extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil as many “light” olive oils are highly processed and don't have the same benefits.

Vegetables

Sadly these days most people think that salad counts as a vegetable.  But what they're really eating is nutritionally deficient iceberg lettuce with a few pieces of other vegetables, croutons, candy-coated nuts or dried fruit, and drowned in chemically laden, high-calorie dressing.  

If you're going to have some vegetables why not have a real vegetable packed with nutrients.   Colorful, tasty, and good-for-you.

  • avocados (high in monounsaturated fats)
  • brassicas – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts(high in fiber and phytonutrients)
  • tomatoes (lycopene is great for reducing LDL)
  • sweet potatoes (high in beta-carotene and fiber)

Polyphenols

Found in a number of delicious foods this category of antioxidants is highly supportive of heart health and a very delicious way to support lowering your cholesterol.  

  • Green tea
  • red wine
  • grape juice
  • cocoa products (such as dark chocolate or cocoa powder) – due to caffeine and/or sugars these need to be eaten in moderation

How much to eat

The following are appropriate serving sizes for the foods referenced above. Food journaling is a good way to monitor how much and when you are eating so you can build your nutritional plan to incorporate more of these foods:

Protein – 6-8 ounces of animal protein / 12-24 ounces of vegetable protein
Leafy Greens – 3-4 cups per day
Colorful veggies – 2-3 cups per day
Complex Carbs – .5-1.5 whole grains / 2-3 medium root vegetables
Fruit – .5-1.5 cups
Booster foods – 2-4 tablespoons (seaweeds, greens powders, nutritional yeast, seeds, spices, and herbs)
Liquids – 1-3 cups per day (nourishing broth, green tea)

note: 3 tablespoons = 1 teaspoon

Check out Part Three – heart-healthy recipes.

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About Mira

Mira Dessy is The Ingredient Guru. A holistic nutrition professional, author, and a popular public speaker, she knows that it's not just what you eat, but what's in what you eat. She is the author of The Pantry Principle: how to read the label and understand what’s really in their food. Dessy is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner whose mission is to educate and empower consumers. She curates the Lean Clean Green Subscription box, the premier, organic, earth-friendly, healthy, sustainable subscription box which can be found online at https://theingredientguru.memberbox.com