On an episode of the sitcom "The Office," Dwight Schrute gladly switches to a new company health insurance plan, which doesn't cover anything.
When asked why, he says: "Never been sick. Superior brain power. Through sheer concentration, I can raise and lower my cholesterol."
"Why would you want to raise your cholesterol?" an officemate asks.
"So I can lower it," Dwight responds.
High LDL cholesterol is not, in fact, a laughing matter. It raises the risk of heart disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease. And no one really possesses Dwight's powers.
So be conscientious, and rely on diet — even when taking statins — to help keep your bad LDL cholesterol under 70 milligrams per deciliter and your good HDL above 50 milligrams per deciliter.
The best things to eat? A diet rich in plant protein, viscous fiber, plant sterols, and nuts, according to researchers in the latest meta-study, published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.
Plant protein comes from whole grains, soy, legumes, and a variety of fruits and veggies.
Viscous fiber is found in oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, apples, oranges, and berries.
In this study, plant sterols came mostly from enriched margarine, but you also can get them from broccoli, Brussels sprouts, apples, avocados, tomatoes, and vegetable oils.
Nuts, especially walnuts, deliver heart-loving omega-3s, and almonds deliver monounsaturated fats.
That plant-centered diet reduced high blood pressure and inflammation, and lowered LDL cholesterol by 5 to 10 percent — as much as taking 20 mg of lovastatin did.
Those folks lowered their 10-year risk of coronary heart disease by 13 percent.
So now you have a heart-protecting power far more reliable than Dwight's.
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