How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally
High cholesterol is a very common but potentially dangerous medical condition. There are often no symptoms associated with high cholesterol, which makes it all the more dangerous. According to the CDC, close to 29 million U.S. adults have total cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dL, which is classified as “high”. Nearly half of adults with high cholesterol take medication to treat the condition, and this is often the most appropriate course of action. There are also several natural approaches that can be beneficial to lowering cholesterol, either on their own or in combination with cholesterol-lowering medication. Always check with a physician to determine the most appropriate course of action for your individual situation.
Understand Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a substance that travels in the blood and helps build healthy cells within the body. It also helps create certain hormones as well as the bile in the liver, so having a certain amount of cholesterol is important to ensure healthy body functions. Too much cholesterol, however, can result in fatty deposits that can cause clogged arteries, making it difficult for the blood to flow and increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke or heart attack.
The body actually produces all of the cholesterol that it needs to function properly, which means that any additional cholesterol consumed in food is extra and needs to be removed. This is where the two different types of cholesterol come into play...One type referred to as “good” and the other type as “bad”, although a certain amount of both is actually essential for a healthy and functioning body:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is considered the “bad” cholesterol. LDL moves cholesterol particles throughout the body. If there is too much LDL within the body, it may collect and build up on artery walls, making them hard and narrow. It is generally advisable to keep LDL levels below 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Those with coronary artery disease are usually advised to keep LDL below 70 mg/dL.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is considered the “good” cholesterol. HDL picks up extra cholesterol particles in the bloodstream and moves them back to the liver. It is generally advisable to have HDL levels of 60 mg/dL or higher.
Cholesterol levels can be measured with a simple blood test. Below are some average guidelines for total cholesterol levels, although most doctors will also consider the ratio of the LDL and HDL:
- Normal: less than 200 mg/dL of LDL and HDL combined.
- Borderline: 200 and 239 mg/dL of LDL and HDL combined.
- High: 240 mg/dL of LDL and HDL combined.
Explore Natural Ways to Lower Total Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels can be attributed to a number of factors. Genetics play a large role, and those with high cholesterol often have several family members with the same condition. A diet that is filled with foods that are processed or high in saturated fats will also contribute to a greater risk for high cholesterol, as will having a body mass index (BMI) over 30. Here are some natural strategies that are often effective for lowering cholesterol. Again, it is advisable to review any lifestyle change with your doctor first.
- Get moving. High cholesterol occurs more readily in people who are obese or have conditions like Type 2 Diabetes. Focus on increasing cardiovascular exercise as a strategy to reduce high cholesterol. Just 30 minutes a day of brisk walking can have a positive effect on weight and cholesterol.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables can help keep you feeling satisfied longer, increase energy levels and help reduce cravings for high-fat, starchy foods which can contribute to higher cholesterol levels.
- Ingest fewer saturated fats and trans fats. Trans fats and saturated fats can contribute to weight gain, Type 2 Diabetes and higher cholesterol levels. It is important to remember, however, that the body requires a certain amount of healthy fat to function properly. Sources of healthy fats include: avocados, peanuts and tree nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, fatty fish, tofu and soy products.
- Quit smoking. Smoking is bad for the lungs, but it can also make the blood vessel walls more prone to cholesterol deposits which can lead to blood clots. Giving up smoking can help lower cholesterol and also improve or prevent a number of other potential health issues.
- Reduce stress. Studies show a strong correlation between stress and higher cholesterol levels. Many experts suspect that stress hormones can negatively impact cholesterol levels. Other studies have shown an indirect connection, in that increased stress can sometimes leads to unhealthy lifestyle choices such as overeating or smoking.
- Reduce alcohol consumption. Consuming too much alcohol can increase cholesterol levels, because alcohol is processed in the liver which is also responsible for producing cholesterol in the body. In addition, because the body breaks down calories from alcohol before food to use as fuel, it is more likely to store extra calories from food as fats and this can raise overall cholesterol levels.
- Consume Omega-3 fatty acids. Incorporating foods that are rich in Omega-3, such as salmon, flaxseed and walnuts, can be beneficial for heart health and can also reduce blood pressure, a condition that often accompanies high cholesterol.
- Increase soluble fiber. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains like oatmeal are all good sources of soluble fiber, which helps remove cholesterol build-up from the bloodstream.
At Kyffin Grove, we believe in a comprehensive approach to diet and fitness. Our delicious meals are prepared by our culinary staff using high quality, fresh ingredients. We provide a wide variety of healthy and tasty options and accommodate special-needs diets. To learn more about our lifestyle and wellness programs, contact us to schedule an in-person or virtual tour.