A nutritional and health term that is frequently thrown around a lot is cholesterol, but our medical teams at Integrity Urgent Care hear a lot of questions and have to clarify a lot of confusion surrounding the term. Essentially, while there is good cholesterol that your body needs, many of us have an excess of bad cholesterol. This bad cholesterol can lead to many issues, including clogging arteries and decreasing heart function as well as damaging your liver. Fortunately, if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, or if you simply want to head off an issue before it arises, there are ways you can lower your cholesterol with your diet.
By adding whole oats or oat grain products to your diet you can significantly increase the amount of soluble fiber you are taking in and lower your cholesterol by doing so. Obviously, oatmeal is a great option for breakfast; particularly if you add whole fruit like strawberries or bananas, but cheerios or homemade granola are great choices for snacking too.
In a similar way to oats, barley is packed with nutrients your body needs to counteract excess cholesterol. Check multigrain products to see if you can find one that contains barley or add barley to your favorite soup or stew in place of pasta or rice. Another delicious way to eat barley is in a salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, and lemon juice.
There are so many choices to add into your diet and so many different ways to do so. Add black or pinto beans to your tacos or quesadillas, or as the base for a taco bowl. Throw garbanzo beans or kidney beans into a salad or soup for extra protein and fiber. Navy beans, lentils, and black-eyed peas are great cooked on their own, especially if you pair them with a multigrain barley and oat bread!
Eggplant and Okra
We understand that both of these items can have a controversial taste to many, kids and adults alike. Try different ways of cooking these from grilling to roasting to adding to sandwiches. When all else fails, cook it down into a soup or stew, which will not only add fiber, but also act as a thickening agent for your meal.
Not only are almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and other choices great for packing as a to-go snack that is full of protein, but 2oz consumed daily can reduce LDL, one form of cholesterol, by 5% according to the Harvard Medical School. With so many ways to consume nuts, try different flavors and snack options to find ones you like.
While this may not mean the straight consumption of oil, by replacing butter, shortening, or lard with oil made from canola, sunflower, or olives, you can reduce your exposure to fats that increase your cholesterol levels.
Specifically, apples, grapes, citrus fruits, and, as mentioned above, strawberries are great to consume. Harvard Medical School reports, “these fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers [cholesterol].”
Companies are aware of the consumers growing need for checking labels to make heart healthy decisions. Foods that contain sterols and stanols can be found in orange juices, granolas, cereals, and other products.
It seems like many articles we write about healthy food choices include fatty fish at one point or another. By eating fish like salmon, trout, or sardines, you are improving multiple aspects of your health, from cholesterol levels, to heart function, to bone strength.
Give a few of these or all of these a try for a few months. Small improvements, paired with exercise and overall better eating habits may be a catalyst for change in your body. For health needs in the mean time, come see us at one of our several locations, open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm.