According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 71 million Americans have high cholesterol, but only about one in three of those affected actually have control of the condition. Because high cholesterol drastically increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, lowering your levels is essential for your health. Diet plays a central role in keeping cholesterol levels in check so dish up more of these foods and reduce your need for cardiac care in the future.
The monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil have positive effects on your cholesterol in two ways. First, these acids help to lower your LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol. This is the form of cholesterol that clogs your blood vessels, which leads to heart disease and strokes. Second, olive oil helps to boost your HDL cholesterol, or good cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps to remove LDL cholesterol from your system by removing it from blood vessels and transferring it to the liver, where it is broken down to be flushed from the body. Olive oil is high in calories, so aim for one or two tablespoons per day on salads or in cooking.
Fiber in whole grains helps lower cholesterol by speeding food through the intestines and by encouraging the production of LDL receptors by the liver. Soluble fiber in particular reduces the amount of bile in your intestines. The liver makes bile salts to make up for the lost bile, and LDL cholesterol is needed to make the salts. As such, the liver uses up more cholesterol, and your numbers come down.
Fatty fishes, including tuna and salmon, have high levels of omega-3 acids, which helps to lower LDL and boost HDL cholesterol. Fish also discourages build-up of plaque in blood vessels from cholesterol and is a good substitute for high cholesterol red meats in your meal plans.
If you are concerned about your heart health, you can seek cardiac care at Good Samaritan Hospital. Our San Jose hospital has a range of cardiac services, from emergency care to long-term management of heart conditions. Find out more about our hospital by calling (408) 559-2011.