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5 Foods That Help Lower Cholesterol

Your health is not, for the most part, a game of chance. There’s a lot you can do to significantly minimize your risk for a host of serious illnesses, from diabetes to heart disease. And it all starts with a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Catherine Schiano and Dr. Michelle Tomlinson-Phelan approach patient care with this exact belief. They partner with you to optimize your health through preventive medicine to avoid diagnosing you with a condition down the road. 

As a team, you and the Central Jersey Family Physicians team can chart a course for a healthy lifestyle together. 

Know your numbers

The most important numbers your doctor looks at when assessing your health have to do with your weight, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), blood sugar, and cholesterol. 

Your doctor can easily eyeball these numbers to see if they’re where they should be, or if you need to do some things differently to promote a change. 

The role of cholesterol in your health

Everyone’s liver produces the waxy substance known as cholesterol. Cholesterol is in your blood, and it’s a necessity for sound cells. 

It’s possible to have too much of a good thing, though, and when your cholesterol is high, you run a higher risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

Though some have inherited high cholesterol, most cases are due to unhealthy eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle, or other factors.

When your doctor takes a blood sample to study your cholesterol, she measures your HDL, or “good” cholesterol, which transports cholesterol back to your liver, and your “bad” LDL cholesterol, which distributes cholesterol all over your body. 

When LDL cholesterol accumulates on your artery walls, they become hard and narrow, impeding efficient blood flow.

Diet plays a key role in controlling your cholesterol

If you’re found to have high cholesterol, Dr. Tomlinson-Phelan and Dr. Schiano counsel you about how you can change your diet to lower it significantly. 

Aside from staying away from fried foods, processed meats, and sweets, you can lower it by eating foods that taste great and lower your cholesterol. 

Here are five easy additions to your diet that help slash your cholesterol, especially when combined with other healthy habits.

1. A hill of beans

Beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, and other legumes are protein- and fiber-rich, and they’re great stand-ins for meat in your diet. Beans also provide satiety, or the feeling that you're full, for an extended period. 

2. Go nuts for nuts

Nuts are great for lowering cholesterol because they contain phytosterols, which are plant-based substances that share similarities with cholesterol. 

Because of this, they actually have the ability to block your digestive tract’s absorption of cholesterol, which means reduced cholesterol levels for you. 

3. Holy whole grains

Embrace the goodness of grains like oats, barley, and quinoa. Whole grains contain lots of soluble fiber, a known cholesterol-lowering agent. 

They are superior to refined grains because the parts that are so beneficial — the bran and germ — remain intact through the milling process.

4. Protein pros

Fish like salmon and sardines are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. These lower your triglyceride levels, and accordingly, your cholesterol. 

A good non-animal, cholesterol-free protein source is soy, which you can enjoy in the form of tofu, edamame, or soy milk. 

5. Save room for dessert

Believe it or not, there’s actually a sweet treat you can enjoy, sans guilt, that helps keep your cholesterol in check: dark chocolate

You can indulge in it by having a square from a bar, dusting cocoa powder over yogurt, or whipping up a cup of hot cocoa using low-fat or plant-based milk. 

These are just some of the delicious foods you can include in a doctor-approved, cholesterol-friendly diet, but don’t forget liberal daily servings of fruits and vegetables.

Team up with your doctor for better health

Schedule a consultation at Central Jersey Family Physicians  to learn about how you can prevent certain health problems before they happen. Call our office at 732-257-1171 or contact us through our website.

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