Cholesterol often gets a bad rep for causing detrimental health problems. While this is sometimes true, there are two types of cholesterol: “good” and “bad.” Many focus on bad cholesterol (LDL) however, it’s important to know that our bodies also have good cholesterol, known as HDL.
HDL helps to reduce and remove any plaque buildup in your arteries and transfers it to the lungs, where it’s broken down. A high HDL level is considered to be good for your body because it helps offset the health risks associated with bad cholesterol.
But just like LDL levels can skyrocket, HDL levels can dip. Lower levels of HDL, combined with high levels of LDL, can increase your risk of heart attacks as well as heart disease, but this potentially deadly combination can be prevented if we commit to a healthy lifestyle.
The causes of lower HDL levels are similar to that of high “bad” cholesterol levels:
- Unhealthy diet
- Daily inactivity
Fortunately, there are many natural ways keep your LDL cholesterol low and HDL cholesterol high in order to prevent problems with your health. Start by cutting back on foods that contain saturated fats and trans fats like butter, red meat, and egg yolks. Next, incorporate more nutrient-rich foods into your diet to combat low HDL levels. Below are a few HDL-boosting suggestions!
Enjoy Rich Fish
Salmon, herring sardines and mackerel are among some of the best fish to eat in order to maintain healthy cholesterol levels because it is rich in Omega 3. Omega 3 fats are known to lower bad cholesterol and prevent heart disease. Eating these types of fish twice a week can keep your heart in top shape and your levels at a healthy balance.
Nuts like almonds and cashews are another food that is packed with omega 3 fats, and are relatively easy to incorporate into your diet. According to Dr. Mark Reeves from Loma Linda University, a handful of nuts a day can cut your risk of heart disease in half and reduce bad cholesterol. Get cracking on improving your diet by substituting croutons for nuts in your salad, or by replacing that bag of potato chips with a can of cashews. For the healthiest option, always try to purchase raw, unsalted nuts.
Spin in the Spinach
Kick your salad up a notch by adding a hearty helping of spinach. It’s filled with magnesium, an anti-inflammatory that helps to reduce LDL levels. Other magnesium-rich foods include avocados, Swiss chard, black beans, and bananas.
Chock it up to Chocolate
Yes, dark chocolate is very good for your health. It is a powerful antioxidant that is rich in magnesium. It has also been proven to increase good cholesterol levels and keep our arteries unclogged. Just remember, everything in moderation.
Plant Seeds of Fiber
Chia and flax seeds contain soluble fiber that works wonders for our digestive system and overall health. The fiber absorbs the liquid in our digestive system, which helps reduce excess LDL cholesterol. These seeds can be ground and blended into smoothies, sprinkled on top of salads, or even mixed in with quinoa.
Integrating these foods into your daily diet can help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and ward off serious conditions that negatively impact your wellness. In addition to a healthy diet, staying active every day can also help keep your LDL levels low and HDL levels high.
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