width=300Our bodies naturally produce cholesterol. The amount is dependent on genetics. It's not inherently bad. You need cholesterol for various bodily functions. However, too much cholesterol can be unhealthy. The American Heart Association established a range for your daily intake:

  • Less than 200 mg/dL is considered healthy.
  • 200 to 239 mg/dL is borderline high cholesterol.
  • 240 mg/dL and above is an unhealthy cholesterol level.

Many of our favorite foods contribute to high cholesterol. But there are some foods that can lower your cholesterol levels. Here are the top five as recommended by the Mayo Clinic:

1. Oatmeal and Oat Bran
Fiber is a key component in the fight against high cholesterol. Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which lowers your LDL cholesterol, also known as the bad cholesterol.

2. Walnuts and Almonds
Walnuts and almonds are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol levels.

3. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna have omega-3 fatty acids that help your heart in many ways, including lowering cholesterol.

4. Olive Oil
This Mediterranean dietary favorite contains antioxidants that lower LDL cholesterol. The Food and Drug Administration recommends about two tablespoons of olive oil a day.

5. Foods Fortified with Plant Sterols or Stanols
Sterols or stanols are substances that are in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol. Now, foods are fortified with sterols or stanols, including margarines, orange juice and yogurt drinks. You find the substances naturally in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

These are just some of foods that can counteract the cholesterol produced by your body or eaten on a daily basis. Incorporate them into a balanced diet and you can enjoy foods like eggs and beef in moderation without guilt or worry of damaging your health.

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