Fiber is an important nutrient for reducing cholesterol. Learn more about fiber-rich foods.
September celebrates National Cholesterol Education Month. This may seem like an odd thing to celebrate but it is important to understand what cholesterol is, means, and how to combat unhealthy levels. Focusing on awareness and education is key to this month, along with learning how diet plays a vital role in cholesterol levels.
So what is Cholesterol? It is a waxy, fat-like substance that occurs naturally in our bodies that helps us to function. Our bodies can produce the optimal amount needed for normal functions like hormone production and brain development. Again, our bodies produce the proper amount of cholesterol we need, which means that additional amounts may be harmful to our health.
Cholesterol is found in foods that are high in fat, including red meats and processed meats like sausage, whole milk cheese and yogurts, butter, coconut oil and creams. The type of cholesterol found in fatty foods is known as LDL. High LDL cholesterol levels can lead to clogged arteries which can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. It is best to limit consumption of these types of foods.
There is another type of cholesterol known as HDL. Foods rich in fiber as well as some healthy oils like olive oil and the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish (salmon, tuna, trout, sardines) can help to reduce total cholesterol levels. Think of the H in HDL as though it stands for Healthy! The fiber-rich foods on the following list can help to remove plaque from clogged arteries to the liver to then be processed and removed.
Fresh Fruit: Apple, Raspberries, Pear, Banana
Dark Green Vegetables: Spinach, Peas, Avocado, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts
Nuts & Seeds: Almonds, Sunflower Seeds, Cashews
Beans: Black Beans, Chickpeas, Kidney Beans
Whole Grains: Quinoa, Oats, Popcorn, Barley
To get the most fiber in your diet, try to eat whole foods. The more processed a food is the less fiber, for example a whole apple is a better choice than apple juice or applesauce. So stock up on delicious sweet Honeycrisp Apples this time of the year! Have fun with fiber and consider making a fruit pizza, cold bean and vegetable salad, buy a bag of Our Family trail mix from your local Dan's Supermarket or make your own Trail mix by combining the following ingredients:
- Our Family Popcorn (Light Butter Microwave)
- Our Family Raisins
- Our Family Mixed Nuts
- Dark Chocolate Chips
Besides fiber-rich foods, healthy oils, and fish it is important to engage in regular physical activity and maintain a healthy weight, which also helps to reduce/maintain cholesterol levels.
To learn more about cholesterol and what you can do to manage your levels, refer to the CDC and prevention website.
"This medical and/or nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for individual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition."
Louise is one of the Health & Wellness Specialist’s at SpartanNash who is also a Certified Health Coach and Personal Trainer. Louise is passionate about living well and teaching others, especially children, how to make healthy food choices and be physically active.