Fitness Tips: June 24, 2013

Even though nothing can create an instant athlete, the right foods can help you work harder, train longer and look better. 
Healthy Lifestyle Tip: The Top Foods to Lower Your Numbers
Can a bowl of oatmeal help prevent a heart attack? How about a handful of walnuts? A few simple tweaks to your diet may be enough to lower your cholesterol.
  1. Oatmeal and Oat Bran
    Oatmeal contains soluble fiber which can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, psyllium, barley, and prunes. Eating 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day can decrease your LDL cholesterol. Eating 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 6 grams of fiber. If you add fruit, such as bananas, you'll add about 4 more grams of fiber.
  2. Walnuts, Almonds, and More
    Studies have shown that walnuts can significantly reduce blood cholesterol. Almonds appear to have a similar effect resulting in a marked improvement within just four weeks. All nuts are high in calories, so a handful (no more than 2 ounces or 57 grams) will do.
  3. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    Doctors recommend eating at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon. To maintain the heart-healthy benefits of fish, bake or grill it.
  4. Olive Oil
    Olive oil contains a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol but leave your "good" (HDL) cholesterol untouched. Add olive oil to sauté vegetables, to a marinade, or mix it with vinegar as a salad dressing.
  5. Foods Fortified with Plant Sterols or Stanols
    Foods are available that have been fortified with sterols or stanols – substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol. Margarines, orange juice and yogurt drinks with added plant sterols can help reduce LDL cholesterol by more than 10 percent. The amount needed for the best results is at least 2 grams about two 8-ounce (237 milliliters) servings of plant sterol-fortified orange juice a day.

A diet that combines soy proteins, nuts, plant sterols, and fiber-rich foods like oats and barley can actually lower cholesterol by more than 20 percent!