How do I lower my cholesterol naturally?
That’s a great question, but the answer is a little bit more detailed. However, a few short cholesterols lowering naturally ideas for you to begin with are:
- Eat foods that are good for your heart
- Reduce foods that contain saturated fats
- Don’t eat foods that contain trans fats
- Eat foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids
- Increase your soluble fibre intake
- Eat more whey protein
- Get more exercise
- Control stress
- Get a good night’s sleep
Your cardiovascular system is made up of blood vessels and your heart, cardiovascular disease is one of the main reasons that people have heart attacks and stroke, according to a World Health Organization report as many as 17.9 million people die each year as a result of cardiovascular disease.as we know heart disease is the main reason for deaths worldwide.
High cholesterol is deemed to be one of the main reasons for a heart attack or stroke, so it makes good sense to get your cholesterol down to a healthy level, hence the question that keeps coming up is “how do I lower my cholesterol naturally“
How is cholesterol made?
Cholesterol is made by your liver and intestines, in fact 80% of cholesterol comes from this source, the other 20% comes from the foods that you eat. Let’s be honest, we need to produce cholesterol, for example we need cholesterol to produce cell membranes, to produce vitamin D, we need it to make hormones, (oestrogen, testosterone & adrenal hormones).
Problems arise when our bodies produce too much of it because too much cholesterol will stick to the walls of your blood vessels, combine that with calcium build-up and you could be heading for a narrowing of the arteries, this is known as atherosclerosis.
When blood vessels or arteries become blocked your heart will have difficulty pumping enough blood around the system this could lead to a heart attack or a stroke depending on where the blockage occurs.
Why do we need our cholesterol to be healthy?
Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries is the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes, studies have shown that high cholesterol contributes significantly to your chances of having a heart attack or stroke (cardiovascular diseases). Based on the evidence eating healthily, quitting smoking and being physically active will increase our chances of averting cardiovascular diseases.
Does high cholesterol affect everybody?
High cholesterol does affect males and females of all ages, the sooner that you can make changes in your life the sooner you will contribute to making yourself heart healthy and increase your chances of living longer, this applies in an even bigger way to someone who already has heart disease or has a bad family history of heart disease.
Where do we get cholesterol from?
Your liver is the main provider of cholesterol or blood cholesterol used to carry out many functions, our bodies normally maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Problems start when the balance changes into more LDL and less HDL, these are the two main types of cholesterol HDL stands for High Density Lipoprotein and LDL stands for Low Density Lipoprotein, the balance between the two can change due to family genes or from eating too much saturated or trans fats in your diet.
Two Main Types of Cholesterol
High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is referred to as “good cholesterol” while Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is known as “bad cholesterol” The good cholesterol takes excess cholesterol and brings it to the liver where it breaks down and is passed outside the body. So, by getting regular exercise or doing physical activity it is possible to increase the levels of HDL in your body meaning more protection against heart disease/stroke.
These are just another type of fat present in your bloodstream, an excess of triglycerides will increase the risk of a heart disease or stroke. Are your triglycerides high? The answer lies in a blood lipid test to determine your total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, these levels are compounded if you:
- Are overweight
- Overindulge in alcohol intake
- Eat too much sugar
- Don’t exercise enough
How to keep your cholesterol healthy?
Saturated fats are something that should be in your mind each time you think about buying foods because the levels of cholesterol are directly affected by your intake of saturated fats, saturated fats from foods like:
- Fatty meat
- Vegetable oil (palm & coconut oil)
- Processed foods
What foods contain cholesterol?
Cholesterol is present in some foods such as eggs, and liver, the amounts don’t have any major impact on your blood cholesterol, so it is ok to eat foods that have cholesterol but only in moderation and as part of a cholesterol lowering diet.If you know your cholesterol levels and they are normal then it is enough to eat up to seven eggs per week, on the other hand if you have elevated cholesterol levels then stick to 2-3 eggs per week.
Try these simple changes to you food habits
- Grill instead of frying
- Drain oil after cooking meat
- Reduce intake of sweets, sugary drinks, biscuits, cookies, cakes & jams.
- Take fat off meat before cooking
- Eat salmon, sardines or mackerel at least twice a week
- Eat low fat dairy
- Eat more whole grain breads, pastas and cereals.
- Eat jacket potatoes
- Eat more fruit & vegetables
Note: Most supermarkets these days have a range of cholesterol lowering foods, just remember these are not to replace cholesterol lowering drugs, always consult with your doctor before going down this road.
Do fats in foods affect cholesterol?
As I said earlier there is fat in some foods, a mixture of saturated and unsaturated for example monounsaturated and polyunsaturated as well as trans fats, which are good, and which are bad? so let’s look at fats in foods:
The good fats
Monounsaturated are good fats because they encourage lower cholesterol, these are found in rapeseed, olive and peanut oils, avocados, nuts & seeds (peanuts, almonds, cashews) monounsaturated helps to lower your LDL cholesterol (bad).
Polyunsaturated fats such as Omega 3 and Omegas 6 essential fatty acids are found in oily fish like salmon, herring, trout, mackerel and sardines are good fats because they help your heart to have a healthy rhythm, prevent blood clots and lower triglycerides. You will find Omega 6 essential fatty acids in oils like sunflower, corn, safflower, and sesame oils, it can also be found in nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts and brazil nuts. Omega 6 fats may help lowering LDL bad cholesterol thereby reducing your chances of a stroke or a heart attack.
What are the bad fats?
Bad fats are saturated fats and trans fats, saturated fats are found in fatty meat, cakes, biscuits, chocolate bars, butter, margarine and lard. Don’t forget saturated oils are also found in coconut and palm oils, always check the label’s on processed foods for saturated and trans fats. Bad fats increase the levels of bad LDL cholesterol increasing the risks of cardiovascular disease. Trans fats are also bad fats found in biscuits, cakes, pastries & deep-fried foods, so be careful about your intake of trans fats because they lower the HDL or good cholesterol.
For a healthy heart and good cholesterol
- Eat fewer fatty foods
- Stop smoking
- Eat more vegetables and fruit
- Eat more oily fish
- Keep your weight under control
- Get more active
- Drink up to 5 litres of water per day
- Reduce stress
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Reduce your sweets intake
- Get your cholesterol checked twice a year
- Get your blood pressure checked
Have your cholesterol checked
Your doctor can do a blood lipid test for you, it’s a simple procedure you will be asked about your health and your family history, if there is a family history please have your cholesterol checked as soon as possible, because you may be at a higher risk of a stroke or a heart attack.Blood cholesterol levels can be checked at home.
Results of 5 mmol/l 190 (mg/dl) or greater may need a further test, fasting is required for 12 hours beforehand. You will also be required to test for triglycerides especially if overweight, eats sugary foods, or drinks excessive alcohol. If someone has had a heart attack previously it is vital to keep the LDL below 2.5 mmol/l
Cholesterol in numbers
Cholesterol numbers to keep an eye on are:
Total not more than 5 mmol/l
LDL not more than 3 mmo/l
HDL not more than 1 mmol/l
Triglycerides not more than 2 mmol/l
Heart disease or diabetes
If you have diabetes or heart disease
Total cholesterol not more than 4.5 mmol/l
LDL not more than 1.8 mmol/l
If your doctor is concerned about any part of your blood lipid profile, he may give advice on your lifestyle changes and may also put you on cholesterol medication.
Risk Categories of cholesterol
1. Very High-risk category a total cholesterol reading of 160-189 mg/dl is very high risk
2. High risk category a total cholesterol reading of 240 mg/dl is a high-risk category
3. Borderline risk category a total cholesterol reading of 200-239 mg/dl is borderline high.
Total cholesterol levels of 129 mg/dl or less are acceptable unless there are health issues, HDL or the good cholesterol levels should be retained at 60 mg/dl or more, major heart disease risks are people with a good cholesterol level of 40 mg/dl or less.
Cholesterol in children
Cholesterol in adults and children are different, in children the acceptable range of total cholesterol is less than 170 mg/dl, total cholesterol between 170-199 mg/dl is considered borderline, total cholesterol over 200 mg/dl is unacceptably high. Cholesterol in children should always be lower than in adults, the acceptable range in children is not more than 110 mg/dl, between 110-129 mg/dl is considered borderline while over 13 mg/dl is high.
Final tips to lower cholesterol
The same advice goes for adults as well as children, sticking to a heart healthy die and lots of regular exercise will help to keep the cholesterol levels healthy.
I can’t emphasise enough how important diet and exercise are to a healthy cholesterol level, in children processed foods, obesity and bad exercise habits contribute to higher cholesterol as well, in adolescents and older people cholesterol starts to build up leading to heart problems further down the line.
Managing cholesterol levels by watching what we eat, exercise and good sleeping habits form the bedrock to a healthier heart and reduce the risks of heart disease and stroke.
Get regular exercise and be active, watching television when the sun is shining is a bad idea. Menopausal women may want to get their cholesterol checked as it tends to rise during menopause. High cholesterol increases the risks associated with stroke and heart disease as times goes by.
Thank you for your question “how do I reduce my cholesterol naturally” I hope that you found the information that you were looking for, if for any reason you need to contact me please use the contact form at the top of the page.