Eating with the seasons is not only one of the keys to long-term health in general but long-term heart health in particular. When you eat food in season and preferably local too it is fresher, tastes better, and usually contains more heart-healthy antioxidants which help prevent cholesterol from oxidizing. I believe one of the reasons the traditional people of the Mediterranean region (particularly the people of Crete) experienced a low incidence of heart disease had a lot to do with the fact that they ate food that was seasonally available and locally grown versus highly processed or shipped from afar.

One way to determine what foods are seasonal is to shop at a local farmer's market, but what happens in late fall and winter? In my area, there are no farmer's markets because the growing season is over. What foods help lower cholesterol and are in season during this time of year? Late fall and winter foods are the ones that are harvested (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds) or caught (fish) in the fall. For a list of the top 5 heart-healthy fall foods see below:

Apples have been shown to have a very positive cardiovascular effect due primarily to the water-soluble fiber (pectin) that they contain and their unusual mix of polyphenols. By eating just one apple a day it is possible to lower your total and LDL cholesterol. In addition, apples contain quercetin which has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Reducing inflammation in the body is necessary to help prevent cholesterol from oxidizing. Quercetin is found at its highest levels in the skin of the apple so be sure to buy organic.

Oranges contain limonin which is currently being researched to see if it has cholesterol- lowering effects when eaten. It appears that limonin reduces the production of a structural protein needed for LDL production. It is possible that higher levels of this structural protein may in fact lead to higher LDL levels and vice versa. In addition to limonin, special compounds in orange peels may also lower cholesterol, and they are thought to lower it as effectively as statin drugs. Buy organic oranges and grate some peel on cooked whole grain cereal in the morning or grate it over salad at lunch.

Pears are high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber coats the intestinal lining so that the body absorbs less cholesterol into the body. In addition, soluble fiber has the added benefit of reducing the amount of cholesterol that the liver produces. The end result is lower cholesterol levels.

Almonds lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol due to the heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that they contain. Eating almonds on a daily basis in conjunction with an overall healthy eating plan magnifies the beneficial cholesterol-lowering effects of almonds. In addition to lowering cholesterol, almonds can reduce the risk of heart disease in general. This is possibly due to the antioxidant vitamin E as well as the heart-healthy minerals potassium and magnesium. Almonds also protect against diabetes because they help regulate blood sugar levels. Diabetics are at much greater risk of developing heart disease than the general public.

Lake trout is one of the fish with a relatively high amount of omega-3 fatty acids that is not talked about as often as wild Alaskan salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids are amazing in that they reduce blood pressure and the risk of blood clotting. In addition, they slow the build-up of plaques in the arteries and lower the risk of heart disease in general. It is true that eating more foods containing omega-3 fatty acids can raise the amount of cholesterol in LDL, but it lowers the amount of overall LDL particles circulating in the body. All in all, the heart-healthy benefits far outweigh any negative increase in the amount of cholesterol in LDL.


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