How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally In 28 Simple Steps
There are tons of natural remedies out there for how to lower cholesterol levels, often promising quick results with next to no effort required on your part. But while its true that there are tons of options to keep cholesterol levels in check, it can actually be as simple as swapping out a few foods in your diet for healthier options, switching up your workout routine or adding a supplement or two into the mix.
Ready to get started? Lets take a look at 28 simple methods for how to lower cholesterol and how it can impact your health.
Apples: Rich In Fiber And Beneficial Antioxidants
As with beans, apples are an excellent source of LDL-lowering soluble fiber, primarily pectin. Research published in December 2014 in the;European Journal of Nutrition;also shows that eating an apple a day can slow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This health benefit comes thanks to antioxidant polyphenols found primarily in apple skin .;Antioxidants;are important because inflammation and;plaque buildup in the arteries;are more likely to occur when LDL cholesterol interacts with free radicals and becomes oxidized.
What Causes High Ldl Cholesterol
High LDL cholesterol levels are primarily driven by poor dietary habits, explains Eugene Yang, chair of the American College of Cardiology’s Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Section Leadership Council and professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
The Western diettypically high in things like unhealthy saturated fatsencourages elevated LDL cholesterol levels.
With the increasing availability of fast and processed foods, high cholesterol is a trend that’s on the rise worldwide.
According to The New England Journal of Medicine, the number of deaths attributed to high LDL cholesterol grew by almost one million between 1990 and 2017. This research also shows a drastic shift in cholesterol-related death rates from high-income regions to middle- or low-income countries, particularly in Asia.
But diet isn’t the only culprit. Genetics can influence a person’s risk for having high LDL cholesteroland the heart problems that can occur as a result.
Dr. Yang explains that about one in 250 people has what’s called familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic mutation that affects their ability to clear LDL cholesterol from their body.
This predisposes people to levels of cholesterol that are higher than the average person. As a result, they’re up to 22 times more likely to have coronary heart disease, according to the CDC.
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Weight Loss Can Lower Triglycerides And Ldl Cholesterol
It doesn’t take dramatic weight loss to lower LDL and triglyceride levels. Just 5 to 10 pounds can make a difference, says Jerry Blaine, M.D., who specialized in cholesterol management, lipid disorders, hypertension, and preventive medicine, including at the Lipid Clinic at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts, before retiring in 2013.
The same applies to triglycerides. The more calories you eat and don’t burn off, the more you store, which can lead to higher-than-normal triglyceride levels.
Additionally, there are other trim-down steps you can take to lower your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides:
— Set a goal to lose 5-10 percent of your total body weight. For example, a 200-pound adult would aim to lose 10-20 pounds. Once the weight is off, keep up your healthy lifestyle to maintain your new weight.
— Cut 200-500 calories a day from the number of calories it takes to maintain your weight. Reducing caloric intake will lower both LDL and triglycerides.
What Are Saturated Fats
Saturated fats are generally solid or waxy at room temperature and are most often found in animal products and tropical oils. The following foods contain saturated fats:
- Fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb, veal, and the skin of poultry.
- Hot dogs, bacon and high-fat luncheon meats, such as salami and bologna.
- Full fat and processed cheeses, cream cheese.
- High-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, cream, half and half, butter and sour cream.
- Lard, bacon fat, sauces and gravies made from animal fat.
- Most fried foods and fast foods.
- Tropical oils – palm, palm kernel and coconut.
- Baked goods made with lard, butter or tropical oils.
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What Is Hdl Cholesterol Versus Ldl Cholesterol
Cholesterol is important for the body because it helps make the hormones and other substances that help regulate important body functions. HDL cholesterol is good for your heart because it helps lower bad LDL cholesterol in the blood.
HDL removes excess amounts of LDL from cells while also reducing inflammation in the arteries, which may cause atherosclerosis or hardening of artery walls.
On the other hand, LDL Cholesterol clogs up arteries over time by increasing plaque formation with its deposits; this leads to high-risk factors such as increased chances of stroke, heart attack, angina, and vascular dementia, among others.
The level of cholesterol in your bloodstream is called blood lipid levels. High levels can lead to coronary disease and strokes if not managed well.
Since HDL has a positive effect on lowering LDL levels, if we have more of this good kind , thats better for us!
Work With Your Doctor On A Lower Cholesterol Plan
Lowering your cholesterol doesnt mean going it alone. Your primary care doctor is a helpful partner along your journey.
Your doctor can work with you to create an action plan just for you one that combines diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes to help you lower and manage your cholesterol.
For example, losing weight and quitting smoking can be big helpers for lowering cholesterol. Quitting smoking can raise your good HDL cholesterol levels, and losing weight can lower your bad LDL cholesterol levels significantly.
But these two tasks arent easy. Fortunately, your primary care doctor can be a great resource to help you get started and find practical ways to stick with it. Plus, help with quitting smoking and losing weight may already be covered if you have health insurance.
Whether you want to quit smoking, lose weight or just learn more about how your personal health would benefit from lower cholesterol levels, regular check-ins with your doctor are key. They can also perform cholesterol tests the only way to actually measure cholesterol to check your progress and help you make adjustments based on the results.
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Prepare Your Food A Little Differently
Its not only what you eat its how you eat it. Just as you can change what you buy in the grocery store, you can also choose healthier ways to make your food that help lower your cholesterol naturally. For example:
- Trim fat and remove the skin when cooking meat or fish. This helps you get the protein while reducing fat intake.
- Focus on boiling, broiling, baking, poaching or grilling. These are better methods of preparation than deep frying or breading, which can bring in extra fat.
Talk To Your Doctor About Medication
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What Happens When Ldl Cholesterol Is Too High
When these LDL cholesterol particles get into our arteries, they trigger an immune system response. The body sends in inflammatory cells to try and clear the leftover cholesterol, but that very process creates more damage, which can attract more LDL cholesterol particles.
“It becomes a little bit of a vicious cycle,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones says.
He explains that over time, this damage can make it more likely someone will form plaque in their artery walls. That narrows the arteries, limiting blood flow and significantly raising the risk of heart disease.
Red Wine Or Grapes: A Toast To Resveratrol
A plant-based chemical known as;resveratrol, found in the red grapes used to make red wine, can help to lower blood levels of;LDL;cholesterol. It also appears to protect against;coronary artery disease, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, a glass of red wine with a meal can help prevent the constriction of blood vessels that can follow a fatty meal and lead to atherosclerosis and;heart attack.
If you don’t drink, don’t start now. You can get;resveratrol;from red, black, and purple grapes, and from blueberries, cranberries, and even peanut butter.;If you do drink alcohol, limit your consumption of red wine to one or two 5 oz glasses a day.
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Increase The Amount Of Fiber In Your Diet
Most of us do not get enough fiber in our diet. The recommended amount is 25-35 grams of dietary fiber per day. Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. As fiber passes through the body, it affects the way the body digests foods and absorbs nutrients. Fiber can help reduce your LDL cholesterol level. A fiber-rich diet can also help control blood sugar, promote regularity, prevent gastrointestinal disease and help you manage your weight.
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of all high-fiber foods. Refined foods, like white bread, white pasta and enriched cereals are low in fiber. The refining process strips the outer coat from the grain, which reduces the amount of fiber that’s left.
The best sources of fiber are whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes .
Try Having One Vegetarian Meal Every Week
Dont let the word vegetarian scare you. By choosing a smartly prepared vegetarian meal, youre hitting multiple cholesterol-lowering goals at the same time, like eating healthier fats and getting more soluble fiber. Plus, many vegetarian meals are just as flavorful and filling as their meaty cousins.
Heres one idea for a low-cholesterol recipe: Try a freshly prepared salad with a sesame vinaigrette and some grilled, spiced tofu. For dessert, add some fresh blueberries, strawberries and oats to low-fat vanilla yogurt.
The key here is to build up a routine, like making every Tuesday night vegetarian night. Once that becomes the norm, try expanding to different nights, or add a weekly vegetarian lunch, too. You can also be flexitarian by just eating smaller portions of meat. Over time, these modifications can really add up and pay off.
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Cholesterol And Healthy Eating
What we eat has an impact on our cholesterol levels and can help reduce our risk of disease. Try to eat a wide variety of foods from each of the five food groups. Not only does this help to maintain a healthy and interesting diet, but it provides essential nutrients to the body.;
The Heart Foundation recommends:;
- Plenty of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains.
- A variety of healthy protein sources , legumes , nuts and seeds. Smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry can also be included in a heart healthy diet. If choosing red meat, make sure it ;is lean and limit to 1-3 times a week.
- Unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese. Those with high blood cholesterol should choose reduced fat varieties.
- Healthy fat choices ;nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
- Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt.
Also, be mindful on how much you are eating and whether you are filling up on unhealthy foods. Portion sizes have increased over time and many of us are eating more than we need which can lead to obesity and increase our risk of cardiovascular disease.;
Ideally, a healthy plate would include servings of ; ¼ protein, ¼ carbohydrates and ½ vegetables.
Serving size can vary depending on age, gender and specific nutrition needs.;
You Can Begin To Reduce Your Bad Ldl Cholesterol Naturally By Making A Few Simple Changes In Your Diet
If your cholesterol is creeping upward, your doctor has probably told you that diet and exercisethe traditional cornerstones of heart healthcould help to bring it down. And if you’d prefer to make just one change at a time to lower your cholesterol naturally, you might want to begin with your diet. A major analysis of several controlled trials involving hundreds of men and women found that dietary changes reduced LDL and total cholesterol while exercise alone had no effect on either.
The people in the studies followed a variety of diets, from Mediterranean to low-fat to low-calorie. However, the most effective diets substituted foods with the power to lower cholesterol for those that boost cholesterol. According to Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, eating with your LDL in mind doesn’t have to be an exercise in self-deprivation. While you may have to say goodbye to a few snacks and fast foods, you can replace them with others that are equally satisfying. “You don’t have to follow an all-or-nothing approach. It’s really a matter of common sense,” she says. She suggests a few ways to start getting your cholesterol under control and keep it normal.
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- Research health conditions
- Prepare for a doctor’s visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
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Treatment For High Cholesterol
Making lifestyle changes, especially changing some of the foods you eat, and regular physical activity, are very important to help reduce high LDL cholesterol.
You may also need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to help manage your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about finding the most appropriate treatment for you.
Fill Up On Delicious Fruits And Veggies
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Consider Swapping Saturated Fats For Unsaturated Fats
For some, making small changes like the ones listed above wont be enough to produce; a meaningful change in LDL. Instead, they may need to reduce saturated fat from all sources and replace it with mono- and polyunsaturated fats. In practice, that means less beef, cheese, and cream and more fish, macadamia nuts, avocados, and olive oil.
Liquid polyunsaturated fats, such as seed oils, remain a point of contention. This is because observational studies show a small cardiac benefit, but randomized, controlled trials show they can reduce LDL but may increase both cardiovascular events and risk of dying.8 Furthermore, mechanistic data suggest seed oils can increase oxidation and inflammation, although clinical trials havent shown this.9 See more in our evidence-based guide to vegetable oils.
Many people find that reducing or eliminating saturated fats while still remaining on a LCHF diet successfully lowers LDL cholesterol. The more pressing question is if this is a sustainable eating pattern. The answer is highly individualized and requires personal experimentation.
How Long Does It Take To Lower Cholesterol
Your cholesterol levels are directly tied to your heart health, which is why its so important to make sure theyre in a healthy range. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , reports that 78 million adults in the United States had high levels of low-density lipoprotein , or bad cholesterol, in 2012. The organization also states that people with high LDL cholesterol are at a much higher risk of heart disease.
Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Womens Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center, says it can take between three to six months to see lower LDL numbers through just diet and exercise, noting that it takes longer to see changes in women than men.
Read on for more information on how to lower your LDL levels.
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How To Lower Ldl Cholesterol
LDL cholesterol is a major contributor to heart disease. So how can you lower your LDL cholesterol and stay healthy?
LDL cholesterol or low-density lipoproteins are widely nicknamed bad cholesterol because they lead to plaque buildup in your blood veins, which in turn makes the veins narrower and can lead to heart attacks and other complications. The other type of cholesterol, high-density lipoproteins or good cholesterol, helps lower LDL cholesterol levels and keep your heart healthy. Both LDL and HDL cholesterol levels are determined largely by diet, which means that choosing the right foods to boost HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol is an effective strategy.
How Can Foods Help Lower Cholesterol
People can often reduce their cholesterol levels dramatically by changing the foods they eat. Diets high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterolfound in meat, dairy products, and eggsraise cholesterol levels, which increases heart attack risk. Foods high in saturated fat are especially dangerous;because they can trigger the body to produce extra cholesterol.
Plants do the opposite. They are very low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol. Plants are also rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of cholesterol and reduces the amount of cholesterol the liver produces.;Oatmeal, barley, beans, and some fruits and vegetables are all good sources of soluble fiber.
It is important to continue to work closely with your health care provider to monitor your health and manage medications, even as you make dietary changes.
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