The Best Foods to Reduce Cholesterol

Balance your diet deliciously with vibrant herbs. Try these scrumptious recipes to reduce cholesterol naturally.

| February/March 2012

  • Balance your diet deliciously with vibrant herbs. The fresh herb sextet makes this Fall Harvest Salsa truly special.
    Photo by Povy Kendal Atchison

Watching our blood cholesterol levels has become something of an American pastime—and for good reason. After all, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States. Except for a genetically lucky few, most of us need to watch our blood cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, which can result in heart attacks or strokes. Making heart-healthy choices is especially important for those who currently live with, or have a family history of, cardiovascular disease. To complicate the issue, advice from the scientific community has swung wildly over the years. For example, before the chemical makeup of trans fats was examined and understood to be much worse for the human cardiovascular system than natural animal fats, margarine was suggested in place of butter.

Reduce cholesterol naturally with these recipes:
Chipotle Dry Rub with Sage
Fall Salsa
Carrots and Parsnips with Fresh Herbs
Herb-Flavored Sole in Parchment
Cumin-Bay Black Beans with Pasilla Chile Pepper 
Herb Apple, Pear and Winter Squash Bake
Herbie Scrambled Eggs or Scrambled Tofu Recipe
Herb Quinoa Pilaf
• Clove & Ginger Black Tea with Blood Orange Peel 

The good news is, lifestyle choices can make a dramatic impact on heart disease. Consistently eating a healthy diet, exercising and avoiding tobacco products can pave the way toward improved health. Our recipes and cholesterol tips—heart-friendly, budget-friendly and, best of all, easy, with a delectable emphasis on herbs—can help you on this journey.

Be Heart Smart

Cholesterol is essential for bodily functions, but too much LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood is associated with atherosclerosis, a condition of artery blocking. A heart attack or stroke can be caused when a clot blocks a narrowed artery.

Due to the importance of cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that every five years everyone older than 20 have a fasting lipid profile which measures total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides. A total cholesterol level of less than 200 mg/dL is desirable; 200 to 239 is borderline high. If you have a high level of 240 and above, you may be at a much higher risk of coronary disease than someone whose cholesterol is below 200. This is particularly critical because most of the time, there are no symptoms of high cholesterol. In addition, heredity can play a factor in high LDL levels.

Eat to Beat High Cholesterol

The AHA recommends that you limit your daily cholesterol intake to 300 mg, saturated fat to 7 percent of total daily calories and trans fat to less than 1 percent. However, if you have coronary heart disease, or high LDL or genetic factors, you may need to consume less than the general guidelines. No matter what your situation, consult with your qualified health-care practitioner about what’s best for you, including if medication is required.

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