Fill up on fiber. Not only does fiber help lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, it can aid weight management. Being overweight raises your risk of heart failure by a third, while being obese doubles it. While two-thirds of Americans are too heavy, only half get enough fiber. Top sources include oats, beans, raspberries, blackberries, oranges and green peas.
Go bananas. 99 percent of women and 90 percent of men don’t get enough potassium in their diet. Responsible for regulating the fluid balance in our cells, potassium also blunts the effects of excess sodium. Too much sodium and too little potassium is a recipe for high blood pressure.
Say “no” to that extra cup of joe. Four or more cups of daily brew could elevate blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Drinking more than two cups of coffee a day can harden the arteries and contribute to arteriosclerosis.
Become a better listener. University of Baltimore researchers found that people with “dominant personalities” had a 47 percent higher risk of heart disease when compared to their more patient, passive peers. So how do you know if you’re “dominant”? Another study identified several markers – including the tendency to interrupt!
Choose healthy fats. Monounsaturated fats (think olive oil, avocado, nuts) – when used in place of saturated fats (think butter, bacon, beef) -help lower cholesterol. Another healthy fat – omega-3 – helps reduce inflammation. Omega-3 sources include wild salmon, walnuts and flaxseed.
Don’t turn breakfast into break-feast. While skipping breakfast actually lowers your metabolism, going overboard is no better. A new study done at the University at Buffalo found that big fatty breakfasts trigger the release of inflammatory chemicals associated with clogged arteries. So skip the stack of flapjacks and opt for a strawberry-banana smoothie.
Go for a raise. In HDL cholesterol, that is. Higher levels of this “good” cholesterol can be almost as important as low levels of LDL cholesterol at keeping cardiovascular disease at bay. In addition to exercise, quitting smoking and limiting trans fats, a University of Scranton study found that drinking cranberry juice could help boost HDL levels.
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