Seems like we all are looking for ways to eat healthy, watch our weight, and do things that help strengthen our heart and other muscles. Are you looking to reduce your cholesterol levels in a natural and healthy way? Read on to find out what cholesterol is and how adding foods, like fish, to your regular diet can help your heart stay strong.
We have often touted that fish is a great brain food and a heart healthy choice, but today let’s explore cholesterol and how fish can help those looking to lower their numbers.
What is Cholestrol?
Cholesterol can be found inside the human body. It is a waxy, fat-like type substance that actually is needed to build cells and make vitamins and other hormones.
According to the American Heart Association, “Cholesterol comes from two sources. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need. The remainder of the cholesterol in your body comes from foods from animals. For example, meat, poultry and dairy products all contain dietary cholesterol.” Therefore our diets high in cholesterol laden foods could be harming our hearts.
While having some cholesterol in your bloodstream is needed, having too much can cause a narrowing of the arteries and a condition called Atherosclerosis. This, in turn, can lead to angina and coronary heart disease.
Due to these risks, it is extremely important for people at risk for heart issues to not only check their levels of cholesterol regularly with their primary care physician, but to also maintain a diet that encourages good cholesterol and reduces levels of bad cholesterol.
How Fish Can Help
Diet can play an important role in lowering cholesterol levels, especially the bad cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein or LDL. Some foods that can improve cholesterol and protect your heart include: high fiber foods, oatmeal, almonds, avocado, and … you guessed it, fish and omega-3 fatty acids!
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Fatty fish has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your triglycerides, a type of fat found in blood, as well as reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots.” In people who have already had heart attacks, omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of sudden death.
In addition to lowering triglycerides, Omega-3 fatty acids may also slow down the growth of plaques in the arteries and reduce inflammation throughout the body.
While omega-3s don’t affect LDL cholesterol levels they can help the heart in other ways. But because of those acids’ other heart benefits, the American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week. Baking or grilling the fish avoids adding unhealthy fats.
A few simple tweaks to your diet, in addition to adding exercise to your daily routine and other heart-healthy habits might help you lower your cholesterol.