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Did you know?
You may know what foods to avoid in order to keep your levels of bad cholesterol in check -- no mounds of butter on your bread, or ice cream for dessert every night -- but what are the foods you should be including in your diet to ensure a healthy heart and a managed level of cholesterol?
Many studies have found that in order to manage your cholesterol levels, you need to know which foods are heart healthy and which are not. By eating the correct foods, you can raise your good cholesterol while lowering the bad. Knowing what to eat or what not eat is not enough though. You need to know how to prepare your food in a healthy manner as well.
You can reduce your cholesterol levels and decrease your chances of developing heart diseases by increasing the intake of the following foods:
Oatmeal and oat bran are rich in soluble fiber, a type of fiber which lowers the bad or LDL cholesterol without lowering the good HDL cholesterol. Thus, food products containing oat bran and rolled oats, such as oatmeal, and whole oat flour should be included in your diet. One bowl of oatmeal contains about 3 grams of soluble fiber. Include other soluble-fiber-rich foods such as apples, kidney beans, pears and barley.
Fish is a good source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids - which has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. It is recommended that you eat at least 2 servings of fish a week, particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout and herring.
Nuts are rich in fiber, antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium. These tasty snacks are also high in plant sterols and fat - but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have all been shown to lower the bad LDL cholesterol. Nuts like almonds, peanuts, some pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts are recommended. Limit your intake to 15 to 20 grams a day,
Try to replace the unhealthy fats with healthier monounsaturated fats, as found in extra virgin olive oil, as well as canola oil, avocados, peanuts and tree nuts. Doing so can help lower your LDL and raise your HDL levels. But even "good" fats should be eaten in moderation because all types of fat contain more than twice the calories of proteins or carbohydrates. The doctors recommend choosing fats and oils that contain less than 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.