Encouraging Health and Happiness

Nutrition – Apples to lower cholesterol? That’s just the beginning

By MARISSA CEVALLOS, HealthKey for the LA Times

To truly keep the doctor away, it’s going to take more than a handful of red delicious. The fruit and vegetable aisle is a fine place to start your quest to lower cholesterol, but don’t stop there. Keep moving, keep moving….

This week we learned that eating dried apples can help reduce “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein, while raising “good” cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein – at least when compared to eating dried plums (aka prunes).

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that travels in the blood. If you have too much cholesterol, it can stick to the walls of your blood vessels and narrow or even block them, leading to heart disease. You’re more likely to have unhealthy levels of cholesterol if you eat fatty foods, are overweight or have a close relative with high cholesterol.

But you can help lower your cholesterol simply by changing your diet. The Mayo Clinic suggests these five foods for better cholesterol and heart health:

  • Oatmeal and other foods high in soluble fiber, such as apples, kidney beans, pears, barley and prunes. Try for 5 to 10 or more grams of soluble fiber per day.
  • Fish and omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3s can reduce the risk of blood clots; the highest amounts are in mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and halibut.
  • Nuts! But try to limit yourself to about a handful–they’re naturally high-calorie.
  • Olive oil. But be careful to swap it for something else in your diet, don’t just add it. Two tablespoons have 240 calories.
  • Plant sterols. They’ve been added to some brands of margarine, orange juice and yogurt drinks. Try for at least 2 grams, about the amount found in two 8-ounce glasses of fortified orange juice.

Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol With TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes), from the National Institutes of Health, offers even more detail – lots and lots of detail – even information on salt and alcohol, label-reading instructions, sample menus and more.

Now that you know which foods to choose, take care with how they’re prepared. A piece of apple pie a day probably doesn’t do much for cholesterol or overall health.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times


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