Superfood Series: Lower Your Cholesterol

High cholesterol becomes more common with age and family history. If you know you run the risk of developing high cholesterol or already have high cholesterol, try integrating these superfoods into your diet to help reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.

  • Soy
    • Soy foods help your heart by reducing the amount of saturated fat that you ingest.
    • Foods: Tofu, soy nuts, soy flour, enriched soymilk.
    • Recommended Intake: 25 grams of soy protein daily.
  • Beans
    • Beans are very rich in fiber. Their soluble fiber can lower high cholesterol.
    • Foods: Black, white, kidney, fat-free refried, etc. Adding beans to dishes is simple and health benefitting.
    • Recommended Intake: Eat beans 5 or more time a week. 25-30g of fiber a day.
  • Salmon
    • Cold-water fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which helps lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol.
    • Foods: Salmon, white albacore, tune, rainbow trout, anchovies, herring, sardines, and mackerel.
    • Recommended Intake: At least two servings of fish every week.
  • Avocado
    • Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat. It can potentially raise “good” HDL cholesterol.
    • Foods: Avocados are high in calories, but mix with healthy greens to not go over your daily-calorie recommendation.
  • Garlic
    • Garlic has been proven to lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure, and protect against infections.
    • Foods: Add garlic to pizza, soups, or sauces. Or sauté your veggies with garlic for a flavorful side dish. Recommended Intake: 2-4 fresh cloves a day.

Expand your cooking horizons with these delicious new options to help make yourself happier and healthier.

Weekly Health Roundup: May 5-9

Ideas for Mother’s Day, tips for Summer Vacay, and advice for longevity in this week’s Health Roundup!

24 simple tips for fitter vacay

Photo Credit | Kissairis Munoz, Greatist.com

Summer Vacation Season is just around the corner, and usually vacation also means vacation from healthy foods and exercise…which doesn’t make you feel very refreshed when you get home. Thankfully, Kissairis Munoz of Greatist has come to the rescue. “The good news is feeling healthy during and post-vacay is totally possible,” she says. “Making just a few smart choices will keep you active and energized and help you get the most out of that vacay – and looking forward to the next one.” From snack advice to relaxation tips to exercise anywhere recommendations, 24 Simple Tips for a Fitter, Happier Vacation is a must-read before your trip.

Still struggling to find a last-minute gift for Mom this Sunday? Well, whether she’s a fitness guru or just starting out on her health and fitness journey, Leta She at FitSugar has compiled a great list of gift ideas for Mom in Give Mom a Little Health and Happiness: Our Mother’s Day Gift Guide. Get matching gifts for both of you and start on your fitness journey together! Challenge each other and keep one another accountable for a gift that lasts beyond just a one day holiday.

Almost everyone is aware that staying fit as a young adult  can prevent heart disease and other health problems later in life, but a new study published in Neuology, claims that young adult fitness may actually improve brain health later in life as well. In Gretchen Reynolds’s article, Early Fitness Can Improve the Middle-Age Brain, for the New York Times Well Blog, she says, “the more physically active you are at age 25, the better your thinking tends to be when you reach middle age.” There’s even more good news as well. Even if you are over 25 and haven’t had a moderate – rigorous exercise schedule, it’s not too late. You can start exercising now and still improve brain function. According to the doctors who conducted the study, the biggest lesson to learn is to stay active throughout your life.

Whether it’s Cinco de Mayo or any other day of the year, Mexican restaurants in Decatur are steadily packed with hungry crowds. Often however, the sugary margaritas and cheese-drenched burritos mean busting your diet (and your pants button) wide open. If you look closely though and make a couple simple requests, Mexican food can actually be healthy – chock full of veggies and protein. According to Greatist’s Nicole McDermott, “there are other items that can easily be altered to keep them from obliterating your diet.” Check out these simple alterations to dishes and drinks in the ultimate How to Navigate a Mexican Menu guide.

We’ve asked the question before: What is the secret to living forever? Well, who better to ask than the oldest man on Earth – 111 ¼-year-old, Alexander Imich. During his life, he’s travelled all over the world, studied the paranormal and even mastered the computer. Imich attributes much his longevity to healthy living, moderation, and good genes. Michael mannion and Trish Corbett – founders of the Mindshift Institute – “lay his survival to an ever-curious mind. Mr. Imich noted in an interview with them, “The compensation for dying is that I will learn all the things I was not able to learn here on Earth.” Read more about his journey in Ralph Blumenthal’s article An Ever-Curious Spirit, Unbeaten After 111 Years.

Weekly Health Roundup: April 14 – 18

To keep you updated on the latest and greatest in healthy lifestyle and medical news, we present the Healthy Central Illinois Weekly Roundup – a collection of articles, recipes and tips to keep you on your way the a healthier you!

Now that we’re finally seeing the sun, many avid and beginning exercisers are starting the great seasonal debate: Cardio inside or outside? Of course, there are major advocates on both sides of the line, but this article from the New York Times Well Blog may help sway people who are still on the fence…or in the doorway. By comparing 2 of the most popular forms of exercise, walking vs. elliptical training, Well aims to inform cardio beginners and pros on key aspects of similarity and difference from muscle activation to calorie burn.

Spring Cleaning the house may be on everyone’s to-do list (or honey-do list) now that spring has sprung, but what about Spring Cleaning your overall health? Maybe you’re preparing for a trip to the beach this summer. Or perhaps you need a little reminder of that New Year’s Resolution that you’ve already started breaking. Whatever the case, the writers at Pop Sugar have gathered a list of simple habits you can start today to make you feel healthier, physically and mentally.

Beans, lentils and peas usually get a bad rap. However, a new study shows that they contain more health benefits that may surprise you. Not only are legumes rich in protein, but eating just one serving a day may help eliminate LDL, or bad cholesterol, and lower your risk of heart disease. So, jump start your healthier diet with these legume recipes.

From the mid-morning hunger pangs to the 2:30 p.m. slump, sustaining energy throughout the workday can be difficult. Many people turn to candy, chips and energy drinks only to find they feel more terrible after eating them than before. Snacking is essential to boost brain power and productivity, but you have to snack right to get you through. Try these 10 health-conscious snacks at work to fuel your body with nutrition and combat unhealthy cravings.

While living forever may not currently be possible, there are dozens of ways to help you live longer. One 15-year Australian study further reinforces the suggestion that exercise can lengthen your life. Researchers found that those who exercised least had about twice the risk of heart disease as those who exercised moderately and six times the risk of those who exercised vigorously. This NYT article shouldn’t be an excuse to ignore other risk factors, of course, but increasing physical activity can be a key factoring in lowering your risk.

Whether you’re looking to conquer a new paleo recipe or just hoping to spice up taco night, NerdFitness has the perfect recipe to kick off your weekend. Noel Fernando’s Paleo Tacos are easy, flexible and even includes a recipe for homemade guac! They make it even easier with step-by-step pics and printable grocery list.

Lower Cholesterol

Preventing coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and stokes can be as easy as lower and maintaining a healthy cholesterol level. When bad cholesterol builds up, it creates a blockage in the arteries that feed the heart and brain. To lower your cholesterol, make a few adjustments to your diet.

Keeping your cholesterol levels healthy is a great way to keep your heart healthy – and lower your chances of getting heart disease or having a stroke. Cholesterol can be tricky to understand, though, because not all is bad for you. Some is actually good for you. The most important thing you can do as a first step is to get tested and know your cholesterol numbers. Here are some easy ways for you to understand what the testing involves, how it can help you and ways to improve your health by improving your cholesterol.

The American Heart Association endorses the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) guidelines for detection of high cholesterol: All adults age 20 or older should have a fasting lipoprotein profile — which measures total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides — once every five years. To determine how your cholesterol levels affect your risk of heart disease, your doctor will also take into account other risk factors such as age, family history, smoking and high blood pressure.

A complete fasting lipoprotein profile will show the following four results.

Your Total Blood (or Serum) Cholesterol Level

Total Cholesterol Level Category
Less than 200 mg/dL Optimal level that puts you at lower risk for coronary heart disease.
200 to 239 mg/dL Borderline high
240 mg/dL and above High blood cholesterol. At this level, risk of coronary heart disease doubles.

Your HDL (Good) Cholesterol Level

HDL Cholesterol Level Category
Less than 40 mg/dL (for men)
Less than 50 mg/dL (for women)
Low HDL cholesterol. A major risk factor for heart disease.
60 mg/dL and above High HDL cholesterol. Considered protective against heart disease.

To raise your HDL level, avoid tobacco smoke, maintain a healthy weight and get at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity at least 4 days a week.

Your LDL (Bad) Cholesterol Level

LDL Cholesterol Level Category
Less than 100 mg/dL Optimal
100 to 129 mg/dL Near or above optimal
130 to 159 mg/dL Borderline high
160 to 189 mg/dL High
190 mg/dL and above Very high

Healthy levels of LDL vary from person to person. Discuss your level, risk factors, and management options with your doctor to find the right plan for you.

Your Triglyceride Level

Triglyceride Level Category
Less than 100 mg/dL Optimal
Less than 150 mg/dL Normal
150–199 mg/dL Borderline high
200–499 mg/dL High
500 mg/dL and above Very high

Like LDL and HDL, healthy triglyceride levels vary from person to person. Determine your personal optimal level with your doctor.

Try these things to help manage your triglyceride levels:

  • Control your weight
  • Eat a heart healthy diet
  • Get regular physical activity
  • Avoid tobacco smoke
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Limit beverages and foods with added sugars
  • Eat complex carbs
  • Add saturated fats to your diet
  • Fuel up with these cholesterol lowering foods:
    • Oatmeals, oat bran, and high-fiber foods
    • Fish and omega-3 fatty acids
    • Walnuts, almonds, and other nuts

Sometimes, medication is needed in addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Visit your healthcare provider to create an action plan that will incorporate all these lifestyle changes.