Amy McGorry: If you're like millions of Americans, you've high cholesterol. But reaching a healthy cholesterol level and staying there is one of the most powerful steps you can take to guard against a variety of health problems. Here are a few simple strategies to help lower cholesterol and help naturally reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
First, consume good fats. Research has shown that monounsaturated fat can help lower LDL levels and triglycerides while raising good cholesterol, foods like avocado, peanut butter, olive and canola oils and most nuts are high in this good kind of fat.
Second, try a probiotic. We know that probiotics, the healthy bacteria found in yogurt and supplements are digestive health superstars, but new science shows that these over achievers may also help support healthy cholesterol.
Studies have shown that taking a twice-daily probiotic supplement can help reduce total cholesterol as well as bad LDL cholesterol specifically. The health benefits of probiotics are strain specific. So if you're particularly interested in cholesterol management, look for a lactobacillus reuteri on the label.
Third, drink cranberry juice. Scientists at the University of Scranton found that volunteers, who drink 3-8 ounce glasses a day for a month, increased their good HDL cholesterol levels by 10% which is enough to cut heart disease risk by almost 40%. By 100% juice that's at least 27% cranberry.
Remember your age, gender and genes, all affect your cholesterol levels in ways you may not be able to control. Ask your doctor for a fasting cholesterol test also known as a lipoprotein profile, at least once every five years if you're over age 20.
Use these simple strategies to keep your cholesterol levels on the right track naturally.