On one side of my family, we have very high cholesterol. Even when I was a teenager, my doctors said mine was quite high. I wanted to find out how to reduce cholesterol and if there are any natural ways to reduce cholesterol. Here’s what I found when trying to find ways to change my lifestyle habits to try to keep my cholesterol in check.
There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol). The bad cholesterol lets plaque build-up in the artery walls while the good cholesterol helps to remove the bad cholesterol from the artery walls.
As I am sure you can guess, too much of the bad cholesterol can cause heart disease.
To lower bad cholesterol it is a good idea to stay away from these things:
- Reduce the fat intake in your daily diet to no more than 35% and as low as 20%
- The fats you do choose should be healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) that are found in nuts and fish
- Avoid saturated fat and limit the amount you take to less than 7% of your daily calories.
- High-fat dairy and red meat are key sources of saturated fat
- Avoid trans fats. That means, step away from too much fast food, pre-packaged food and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
- Trans fats are especially bad because not only do they lower good cholesterol, but they also raise bad cholesterol
- No smoking and limit alcohol intake. Smoking lowers good cholesterol and while alcohol in moderation can raise your good cholesterol, drinking in excess may actually increase your chance of heart diseases.
Natural way to reduce bad cholesterol include:
- Increase your fiber intake. Fiber helps to absorb cholesterol and also contains antioxidants which are healthy for your heart.
- Get active. By exercising regularly, WebMD notes that you can raise your good cholesterol by up to 10% while at the same time lowering bad cholesterol.
- Prepare food with lower fat options like baking, broiling, steaming and grilling vs frying.
- Manage your weight. This seems like a no-brainer. If you are not physically active and eating too many calories you are likely to be consuming too many bad fats and not raising your good cholesterol through exercise.
There seems to be a lot I can do to try and lower my cholesterol before I need to opt for medication.
Foods That Reduce Cholesterol
Many even seem like simple substitutes in my everyday diet. Choosing extra virgin olive oil over vegetable oils and butter over margarine are two simple switches.
One other larger change I am going to make is not just eating more vegetables (which contain high amounts of fibre), but eating more raw vegetables. This will lower the amount of preparation like cooking in oil that can add unwanted fats into my diet. I’m also going to consume more beans for my protein than animal protein. By switching the saturated fats in animal protein for the more fibre rich beans, I can make two key switches towards lowering my cholesterol.
Now, I am off to get my most up to date cholesterol number so that in 6 months I can re-evaluate more cholesterol and see if these changes are making a difference.