So your doctor just informed you that you have high cholesterol. What does that mean and what can you do about?
Your LDL (low density lipoprotein) or ‘bad’ cholesterol may be too high, and your HDL (high density lipoprotein) or ‘good’ cholesterol may be too low. LDL is bad because it can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Heart disease is the number 1 killer of Americans! High cholesterol can have genetic causes, but more frequently it's the consequence of a diet high in unhealthy fats, red meat and a low intake of fruits and vegetables and other foods high in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids such as fish. In a study published in Stroke showed that a high intake of fruits and veggies was associated with a greatly diminished incidence of heart attack and stroke.
Your doctor may prescribe a ‘statin’ medication to help lower bad cholesterol. He or she will probably also recommend a healthier diet.
Diet may actually be a better first line of defense against high but non life-threatening cholesterol. There have been extensive studies and research that demonstrate diet may have a greater influence on our cholesterol levels than drugs! In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2003, the title says it all, ‘Diet First, then Medication for Hypercholesterolemia.’
Best Fruits and Vegetables
Apples are rich in in fiber and vitamins C which help lower cholesterol and fats in the blood system.
Concord grapes are especially rich in vitamins C, A, E and K, as well as minerals and polyphenols, and the phytonutrients resveratrol and alpha- and beta-carotenes, all of which help lower blood cholesterol in the body. Grapes also provide a wealth of antioxidant phytonutrients, especially in the skin and seeds, which greatly assist in lowering cholesterol and helping to avoid heart diseases and stroke.
Tomatoes are exceptionally rich in lycopene, described as a “vital antioxidant” which scavenges the body of free radicals and greatly reduces cholesterol. Consuming tomatoes is directly linked to heart health with their high content of vitamins C, A, E and K, as well as niacin and a wealth of other B-complex compounds.
Citrus Fruits, especially grapefruit, are rich in fiber and vitamin C. A high intake of fiber in particular was demonstrated in a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine to have an inverse association with the development of coronary heart disease.
Cruciferous Vegetables such as kale, cabbage, spinach, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli offer enormous heart healthy benefits. They are rich in beta-carotene, a compound which has been demonstrated to lower cholesterol.