Lower Your Cholesterol

Food choices may be the answer to keeping your doctor happy.

A bounty of foods from around the Mediterranean.

A bounty of foods from around the Mediterranean.

iStockphoto.com/Donald Gruener

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Hamilton Township, New Jersey – September is National Cholesterol Education Month – a time when attention is brought to the serious condition that can lead to heart disease. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 65 million Americans have high cholesterol. The good news is that there are some natural ways to help reduce your bad cholesterol levels. In addition to adopting a regular exercise routine, there are foods that help to do the job.

“Eating is something that most of us do two to three times a day. So this can have a big impact on our cholesterol levels,” says John Kuropatwa, executive chef of Spigola Ristorante, located in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. “We really have to make an effort to opt for choices that will help us out in this department. Choosing good whole foods is a tasty and powerful way to meet the cholesterol problem head-on.”

According to the NIH, foods that make the bad cholesterol (LDL, low density lipoprotein) rise include saturated fats which largely come from animals, trans fats in the form of hydrogenated oils and fats, and cholesterol, which only comes from animal products. Decreasing the foods that have those factors is advised. Then, there are foods you can eat to lower the bad cholesterol and help raise the good. Try including these foods each week:

● Fiber. The key is to get plenty of fiber which can be found in whole grains, cereals, breads and pastas. It is also in fruits and vegetables. Opt for whole fruit, rather than drinking juice, so you get the fiber.

● Fruits and veggies. Add a variety of fruits and vegetables to your daily menu, including putting them in your cereal, smoothies, and serving a side of fruit with each meal. Also, mushrooms, garlic and onion have all been cited as good options for lowering cholesterol.

● Beans. They are healthy and have a lot of fiber. You can easily find ways to add kidney, pinto or other beans to casseroles and soups. Lentils are also a healthy choice.

● Nuts. Especially walnuts and almonds, but others as well. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), all you need is a handful of nuts per day to get the heart-health benefits.

● Omega-3 Fatty Acids. You can get this by eating fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, canola oil or ground flaxseed. The flaxseed can easily be added to cereal, soup, casseroles and, when baking, muffins and bread.

● Olive Oil. The Mayo Clinic reports that the abundance of antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil help to lower your bad cholesterol while not touching the good. The FDA recommends 2 tablespoons per day for heart-health benefits.

“The most important thing is to get more fiber by eating a good variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains,” Kuropatwa says. “But that doesn’t have to be boring. There are a lot of great options available. Give yourself a goal of eating like this for a month and then see where your numbers are. You’ll want to keep eating this way.”

Spigola is a modern Italian restaurant based in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. The restaurant features a full menu of traditional and modern Italian cuisine, as well as an extensive wine list and bar. The establishment also offers weekly live entertainment, events and specials, as well as catering services and private party facilities. To learn more about Spigola, visit the website.