If you have recently been told to lower your cholesterol, you are not alone. According to the World Health Organization, a whopping 39 percent of adults around the world have high cholesterol. Additionally, it is estimated to cause 4.5 percent of total deaths. With statistics like that, it is certainly something to be taken seriously. Keep reading if you are looking for natural ways to lower your cholesterol without medication.
What is HDL and LDL Cholesterol?
You may be familiar with the concept of good and bad types of cholesterol. The good type of cholesterol is called high-density lipoprotein or HDL. The bad type is referred to as low-density lipoprotein or LDL. Good cholesterol plays an important role in regulating essential functions in the body. HDL cholesterol is beneficial for the cardiovascular system as it helps to lower the levels of LDL cholesterol in the cells and reduces inflammation in the arteries. Too much LDL cholesterol will clog the arteries overtime which can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, angina and more. Some of the warning signs of high cholesterol are chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, pain in the neck, jaw or back, and numbness in the limbs.
How to Fix It
If you are starting to show some of the warning signs of high cholesterol, or if you have already been diagnosed, then you are not out of luck. This is not a permanent state and there are plenty of natural ways to lower your cholesterol.
1. Keeping Your Body at a Healthy Weight
Excess weight can significantly increase your risk of developing high cholesterol. For every 10 pounds of excess fat you carry, roughly 10 mg of cholesterol will be produced in a day. So, it stands to reason that excess fat plays a large factor in cholesterol levels. Marinating a weight that is healthy for your body is key in lowering your cholesterol.
2. Diet Alterations
There are a few things that those with high cholesterol should avoid entirely. This will mainly be foods that are high in trans fats. Trans fats are notoriously associated with high cholesterol and limiting them will be the first recommendation your doctor will make. Trans Fats are unsaturated fats that are processed through hydrogenation. They are referred to as hydrogenated oils when used as an ingredient in foods. Some of the foods that most commonly contain them are things like fried foods, margarine, or processed meats. Instead, seek out alternatives that are lower in fat and void of hydrogenated oils.
One of the diets that is commonly used in cholesterol reduction is the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet consistently ranks as one of the best ways to eat in the U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of the best diets. When done properly, a Mediterranean diet will be abundant in fruits, vegetables, grains, potatoes, nuts and seeds. Dairy, eggs, fish, and poultry are only recommended in low to moderate amounts on this diet. This allows for a higher consumption of fats from healthy sources. This diet also recommends that you limit added sugars and sodium or anything highly processed.
You don’t have to adopt an entirely new diet, but putting an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats is never a bad place to start.
3. Physical Activity
In addition to diet alterations, your doctor will most likely recommend increasing your physical activity. Exercise can help lower your LDL cholesterol by increasing the rate by which the cells in the body break down bad fats and release blood sugar into the bloodstream. If regular exercise sounds daunting, you don’t need to hit the gym seven days a week to get your activity in. Something as simple as a walk around the block or some light yoga will be enough to help you see improvements.
4. Supplement With Omega-3
There are many natural supplements to lower cholesterol on the market. If you do want to use supplementation to help manage your cholesterol, you are going to want a supplement that is rich in omega-3. Omega-3 fats can help raise the levels of good cholesterol, which as previously mentioned, will help lower the levels of the bad cholesterol. When used in conjunction with a diet rich in healthy fats, a supplement containing omega-3 can help you get your cholesterol levels on track.
5. Limit Alcohol
While there is some discrepancy about the effects of alcohol on cholesterol levels, the general consensus is that it should be used in moderation. Alcohol can often have a negative effect on a person’s weight, which is bad for lowering cholesterol. The CDC recommendation is that you limit yourself to one to two drinks per day. As long as you focus on not overconsuming alcohol, you should be able to still enjoy a beverage from time to time.
Take These Steps Today
High cholesterol can lead to a variety of health ailments if not taken care of. If you have high cholesterol, take these steps to achieve better health today.