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8 foods that lower cholesterol

Hi, Chuck. High cholesterol levels run in my family. Any natural remedies? – Paisley H., Caldwell, Idaho

Cholesterol is a fatlike substance that is found throughout the body. The liver makes it, but we also can get it from foods such as meat, eggs, cheese, butter and milk. Cholesterol aids the production of vitamin D, testosterone, estrogen and other things our bodies need.

Eating lots of foods high in cholesterol can increase your cholesterol levels, but the real killer is when those are combined with high-fat foods, particularly bad fats, such as saturated and trans fats. Together they create lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein carries “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein carries “good” cholesterol.

Though we need cholesterol to function, too much LDL cholesterol in our bloodstream is bad, hence its nickname. It sticks to the sides of our arteries and leads to atherosclerosis. High cholesterol levels usually are acquired from a family history of it, being overweight or eating lots of foods that are high in saturated fat.

The Harvard School of Public Health reported that “Dutch researchers conducted an analysis of 60 trials that examined the effects of carbohydrates and various fats on blood lipid levels. In trials in which polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats were eaten in place of carbohydrates, these good fats decreased levels of harmful LDL and increased protective HDL. More recently, a randomized trial known as the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health (OmniHeart) showed that replacing a carbohydrate-rich diet with one rich in unsaturated fat, predominantly monounsaturated fats, lowers blood pressure, improves lipid levels, and reduces the estimated cardiovascular risk.”

If you have high levels of cholesterol, you may need to take medicine to lower it. But you also can help to lower and maintain healthy cholesterol levels by exercising more and eating more fruits and vegetables. A low-saturated fat, low-sodium, low-cholesterol diet will go far in creating a better you.

Here are eight actual foods you can eat to lower or better control your cholesterol levels:

Everyone should have his cholesterol levels checked periodically by a physician. For those with high cholesterol levels, cholesterol intake should be no more than 200 milligrams daily. People with normal cholesterol levels should limit cholesterol intake to no more than 300 milligrams daily.