No doubt you’ve heard it a thousand times by now: Heart disease is the number one killer among both men and women. Research suggests that by eating the right foods, getting enough exercise, and generally taking good care of yourself, you could slash your risk of dying from heart disease by an incredible 80 percent.
Find out how these 10 tips could save your life.
1. Drink two glasses of orange juice every morning
But make it Minute Maid’s Heart Wise or another brand spiked with the same kind of cholesterol-lowering plant sterols found in margarine spreads like Benecol. When researchers at the University of California-Davis asked 72 men and women with mildly high cholesterol to drink either Heart Wise or regular OJ, those drinking the sterol-fortified juice found their total cholesterol levels dropped 7 percent (an average of 13 points) and levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol dropped 13 percent (an average of 8 points). Those who drank regular juice had no changes. But maybe they weren’t drinking enough: Another study, this one from the University of Western Ontario, found that three glasses a day of orange juice–any orange juice–for four weeks raised HDL levels 21 percent and improved the ratio of good to bad cholesterol by 16 percent.
2. Eat six or more small meals a day
A large study of British adults found that people who ate six or more times a day had significantly lower cholesterol than those who ate twice a day, even though the “grazers” got more calories and fat! In fact, the differences in cholesterol between the two groups were large enough to reduce the grazers’ risk of coronary heart disease 10-20 percent. Just make sure those six meals are truly
3. Sip a glass of wine every evening with dinner
Studies find a daily glass of wine or beer a day can boost levels of HDL cholesterol. Make the wine a red one–red wines are 3-10 times higher in plant compounds called saponins believed to be responsible for much of wine’s beneficial effects on cholesterol.
4. Fix all your sandwiches on whole grain bread
Simply cutting back on simple carbs like white bread and eating more complex carbs, like whole grain bread and brown rice, can increase HDL levels slightly and significantly lower triglycerides, another type of blood fat that contributes to heart disease.
5. Use paper filters when brewing your coffee and skip the espresso
Two substances found in brewed coffee, kahweol and cafestol, increase cholesterol levels. But paper filters trap these compounds, so they’re only a problem if you drink espresso or use coffeemakers without filters.
6. Use olive oil in your homemade salad dressing tonight
A Baylor College of Medicine study found that diets rich in the kind of monounsaturated fat found in olive oil reduced LDL cholesterol in people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome–a cluster of risk factors including low HDL, high insulin levels, and overweight–just as well as following a low-fat diet.
7. Eat a grapefruit every other day
Grapefruits are particularly high in pectin, a soluble fiber that can help reduce cholesterol levels. Grapefruits interfere with the absorption of several medications, however, so check with your doctor first. Other good sources of pectin include apples and berries.