While nobody would intentionally clog their own arteries, it’s easy to do just that with the daily choices that we make. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with high cholesterol have twice the risk of heart disease as people with normal levels.
Experts say you should have no more than 200 mg/dl total cholesterol; 100 mg/dl or less LDL (bad) cholesterol, 40 mg/dl or higher HDL (good) cholesterol. All you need to know: When these numbers are substantially off balance, it is a symptom that something in your body needs correcting. And although cholesterol-lowering medications are quick and readily available, studies show that diet and lifestyle changes are as, or even more, powerful than drugs, even if they take a little longer. These natural methods also help lower heart disease and stroke risk without drugs’ negative side effects.
If you have been told that you need to lower your cholesterol – or you're just trying to eat healthier – read these:
5 Ways to Curb Cholesterol
1. EAT PLANTS. Plant foods have no cholesterol. That means all vegetables, fruit, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas), seeds, nuts, and whole, unprocessed grains go to the top of your To Eat list. Consciously count your 8 to 10 servings of vegetables/fruit each day. This number is not difficult to achieve when you combine several types of vegetables in one dish. Best combo dishes that make vegetables the star attraction: 1. Salad 2. Stirfry 3. Stew 4. Curry 5. Casserole 6. Pasta sauce
2. ADD FAT. Omega-3 fatty acids help balance cholesterol, and protect against inflammation that can cause tears in artery walls that attract cholesterol build-up; some clinical studies have found that omega-3 fish oils are as heart-protective as cholesterol-lowering drugs. Omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, found in unheated vegetable and seed oils, also lower bad cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Your day’s total fat should be 20-35% of calories, with most fats coming from these sources. Eat fatty fish, raw nuts, avocados, raw seeds, olives, and “virgin” olive, canola or coconut oil for medium-heat cooking, and similarly “cold pressed” oils (olive, flax, pumpkin seed oil) for salad. Virgin oils are not processed at a high temperature so good fats are not damaged. Damaged fats increase bad cholesterol. Top raw nuts for good fats/nutrients: 1. Walnuts 2. Almonds 3. Brazil nuts 4. Pecans 5. Hazelnuts 6. Pistachios.
3. BULK UP. Eating fibrous vegetables has dramatic effects on cholesterol levels and heart disease risks, and part of this is due to their fibre. Insoluble fibre (in skins of vegetables/legumes/fruit and bran in whole grains) attaches itself to fat in food and cholesterol in your intestines and takes it out of the body in your stool. Top grains for fibre/nutrients: 1. Oats/oat bran 2. Barley 3. Bulgar wheat 4. Rye 5. Buckwheat 6. Quinoa 7. Whole wheat 8. Brown rice.  Soluble fibre (found in apples, asparagus, avocado, flax/chia seeds, oat bran, legumes) helps slow the absorption of cholesterol, and reduce the amount of cholesterol the liver makes. Top legumes for fibre/nutrients: 1. Black beans 2. Navy beans 3. Pinto beans 4. Kidney beans 5. Lima beans 6. Cannellini beans 7. Split peas 8. Lentils 9. Chickpeas 10. Peas
4. COOK COLOUR. Vibrant greens, bold oranges, full-bodied reds, and sunny yellows all positively impact your cholesterol due to their antioxidant vitamins and protective minerals. Top vegetables for colourful nutrients: 1. Leafy greens 2. Broccoli 3. Cabbage 4. Brussels sprouts 5. Carrots 6. Eggplant 7. Sweet potatoes/yams 8. Pumpkin/squash 9. Bell peppers 10. Asparagus. Top fruits for colourful nutrients: 1. Berries 2. Pomegranate 3. Apple 4. Pear 5. Orange  6. Banana 7. Kiwi 8. Prune 9. Papaya 10. Mango 
5. TARGET NUTRIENTS. Powerful nutrients in foods and supplements help to balance cholesterol, promote cardiovascular function, reduce arterial inflammation, regulate blood pressure, and/or metabolize fats. Top vitamins: 1. Vitamin B  2. Vitamin C  3. Vitamin E. Top minerals: 1. Magnesium 2. Selenium 3. Potassium.  Top phytonutrients: 1. Curcumin 2. Lutein 3. Sterols 4. Sulfur 5. Flavonoids found in dark chocolate (hyperlink to recipe).


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