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Lower cholesterol can lead to a healthier heart

Published on Monday, April 9, 2012

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Heart arteries blocked by cholesterol can lead to severe conditions that may require surgery.

Center for Disease Control / Graphic

Heart arteries blocked by cholesterol can lead to severe conditions that may require surgery.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of Americans, affecting one in three people, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). And, the problem may be getting worse, as a new study from the AHA predicts that those who have heart disease are expected to increase to more than 40 percent of Americans by 2030.

This prediction doesn’t have to be reality.

One of the major risk factors for heart disease is high cholesterol, which may be lowered by eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising.

“Heart disease runs in my family so I understand first-hand the role that genetics play in cholesterol and overall health. But maintaining a heart healthy diet and choosing foods that may actively help lower cholesterol are the simplest, most effective things people can do for heart health,” said Dr. Travis Stork, ER physician and co-host of the TV show “The Doctors.”

To help educate people on easy ways to reduce cholesterol, Dr. Stork has teamed up with Cheerios to share helpful tips.

Because heart health risks can be modified by diet, eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol is important.

And, the soluble fiber in oats, known as beta glucan, has been shown to help lower cholesterol. Beta glucan is found in familiar foods such as Cheerios cereal and oatmeal, and helps rid the body of some LDL or “bad” cholesterol. It acts like a sponge in the digestive tract to soak up cholesterol, helping to naturally remove it from the body.

To garner benefits from beta glucan, it is recommended that you eat three grams of soluble fiber daily from whole grain oat foods, such as Cheerios, which has one gram per serving. Eaten as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, this may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Other foods that may actively help lower heart disease risk include certain fish, such as salmon and tuna, that are high in a “good fat.”

And foods containing at least 0.65 grams per serving of plant sterol esters, eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 1.3 grams, also may reduce the risk of heart disease when eaten as part of a heart-healthy diet.

“When doctors tell patients they have high cholesterol, they often receive information about the things they cannot or should not eat,” said Susan J. Crockett, PhD, RD, FADA and leader of the General Mills Bell Institute. “We think it’s important to empower people with the simple things they can do that may help lower their cholesterol.”

A few simple lifestyle changes, such as becoming more active and making smarter food choices, may help improve your heart health.

StatePoint media

Businesses mentioned in this article.

Greer Memorial Hospital, Village at Pelham Hospital

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