Simple ways to combat high cholesterol

High cholesterol is among the leading causes of heart disease. And heart disease is the number one killer of American women and men. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, more than one million Americans suffer a heart attack each year, and nearly half a million people in the United States die from heart disease annually.

If you are one of the 73.5 million adults in the United States who has high levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, you are two times more likely than people with ideal cholesterol levels to develop heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While there are a number of pharmaceutical drugs available to lower cholesterol, simply adopting these home remedies into your daily diet might help you decrease bad cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease.

1. Dark chocolate: A heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to be all greens. According to Cleveland Clinic, dark chocolate contains flavonoids known to lower blood pressure and increase blood flow to both the brain and heart. Chocolate also contains antioxidants that help repair damaged cells. To benefit from dark chocolate, limit your consumption to just one chocolate square a few times a week. You can also get flavanoids from apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries.

2. Green tea: A study by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences found that green tea is effective in lowering LDL cholesterol in adults and does not effect the “good” HDL cholesterol. Other researchers in Japan have concluded that people who drink at least five cups of green tea per day have a significantly lower risk of dying, especially from heart disease, than those who drink less than one cup per day.

3. Gouda and goose liver: Vitamin K2 is one you don’t hear about very often, yet it is one of the most important vitamins for reducing risk of heart disease. According to Common Sense Home, vitamin K2 prevents plaque buildup and lowers cholesterol. Vitamin K2 also works as a delivery system for calcium to your bones. This vitamin is found in goose and chicken liver, as well as cheeses like Gouda and Brie.

4. Kiwi and cauliflower: Vitamin C, which is found in kiwi and cauliflower, as well as citrus fruit and kale, is effective in lowering cholesterol levels. The findings come from a study conducted by researchers at the National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, Illinois. The study also found that a 500 mg dose of vitamin C per day not only lowers LDL cholesterol but also decreases triglycerides, a fat found in the blood that contributes to heart disease.

5. Blueberries: An article on WebMD reports blueberries have a compound called pterostilbene, which is known to break down fat and cholesterol. Pterostilbene has the added benefit of having properties that fight cancer and diabetes.

6. Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts are among the best foods to help lower cholesterol, reports the Mayo Clinic. They are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which keep blood vessels healthy. The Mayo Clinic recommends eating one handful of unsalted nuts each day to lower your risk of heart disease. You can snack on them between meals, mix them with yogurt for a heart-healthy breakfast or toss them with a salad.

7. Honey: Honey is a sweet substitute for sugar. By using honey instead of processed sugars, you can lower your bad LDL cholesterol and raise your good HDL cholesterol, reports LiveStrong. Instead of butter on toast or sugar in tea, try using a delicious local honey.

8. Oats: Oats are full of soluble fibers that reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. According to Mayo Clinic, eating just one-and-a-half cups of cooked oatmeal per day can decrease your cholesterol levels. Make it a routine of starting your day with a piping hot bowl of oatmeal with honey, nuts and fruit.
Always follow your doctor’s advice, but with these tips, you could be just a few meals away from lower cholesterol and a healthier heart!