How To Reduce Cholesterol Levels & Live Longer
Cholesterol gets a bad rap.
The truth is, the human body needs cholesterol to build cell membranes and carry out a number of other functions. But too much cholesterol can quickly become detrimental to your health, especially since many foods contain too much cholesterol and the liver already naturally produces the cholesterol you need.
High cholesterol can lead to a number of health problems, including heart disease and stroke. Reducing high levels of cholesterol naturally and effectively is crucial to an enjoyable life, and it’s not as hard as you might think.
Keep reading to find out exactly how to reduce high cholesterol levels and live a longer life, starting today.
Learn more in Cholesterol: The Good, Bad and Ugly.
How does cholesterol cause heart disease?
Bad cholesterol, which is a fat-like substance from dead animal carcasses, builds up in the walls of your arteries when there is too much bad cholesterol. Over time, this buildup causes ‘hardening of the arteries’ so that arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart is slowed down or blocked.
The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and you may suffer chest pain if enough blood and oxygen cannot reach your heart. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, the result is a heart attack.
Since high blood cholesterol itself doesn’t cause symptoms, many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high. It is important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are because lowering cholesterol levels that are too high lessens the risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of a heart attack or dying of heart disease, even if you already have it.
Cholesterol-lowering is important for everyone, younger, middle age, and older adults, women and men and people with or without heart disease.
Not all cholesterol is entirely bad though. The human body actually needs it, and produces it; this is good cholesterol. The body uses it to help protect nerves and build new cells and hormones. In fact, our bodies get all the cholesterol they need by making it on their own. The troubles start when we add to the cholesterol our body’s produce, which can happen when we eat the all American diet of cheeseburgers, steaks, pizza, ice cream or any food that has an animal or includes an animal product.
Leading to angina pain, heart attack or stroke, animal cholesterol settles along your arterial walls, and that excess can clog arteries and restrict blood flow. Animal cholesterol is also a leading cause of gallstones.
Learn more in Good Cholesterol Versus Bad Cholesterol
How to Reduce High Cholesterol Levels
1. Adjust Your Diet & Eating Schedule
Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level go up. Saturated fat is the main culprit, but cholesterol in foods also matters. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet helps lower your blood cholesterol level.
This is a nice way of saying slow down on consuming meat and animal products that are typically the highest in saturated fat and pose the greatest threat to high cholesterol and heart disease.
Graze throughout the day
One way to lower your cholesterol is simply to change how often you eat. Research has shown that large meals trigger the release of large amounts of insulin. Insulin release, in turn, stimulates the production of an enzyme that increases cholesterol production by the liver. Having smaller, more frequent meals, but not increasing overall calories, may limit insulin release and play a role in cholesterol control and heart disease prevention.
Add whole foods rich in vitamin C to your diet
Vitamin C is especially beneficial when you get it from fruits and vegetables that also have a cholesterol-lowering fibre called pectin. Pectin surrounds cholesterol and helps transport it out of your digestive system before it gets into your blood. Vitamin C rich, pectin-rich foods includes all citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, apples and spinach.
Grapefruit is particularly powerful in reducing cholesterol, toxicity and plaque in the blood due to the compounds contained in its pectins. Pharmaceutical despise grapefruit, which is why in some of their literature on drugs like Lipitor, it generally recommends not to eat grapefruit.
Go heavy on garlic
Vampires aren’t the only thing garlic keeps away. Eating plenty of garlic in your cooking and even raw, can significantly reduce cholesterol because of it's potent blood-cleansing and anti-oxidant properties.
Kick up your intake of soluble fibre
Whole foods like raw organic oats are loaded with soluble fibres which help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your blood stream.
Add one cup of oats to some raw coconut milk or almond milk - either in a sauce pan over low heat until soft or soak over night in the fridge. Add your favourite plant based milk with some organic maple syrup or raw organic honey and a handful of walnuts - an amazing breakfast!
Other great sources of soluble fibre, include beans, lentils, peas and fresh fruit.
Try the Get Things Moving Daily Fibre Blend if you feel you need to supplement your diet with an extra fibre boost to help kick start to your digestive system and ensure its performing its best.
Learn more in 10 Wholefood Remedies to Heal High Blood Pressure
2. Consume the Right Fats
Not all fats are bad for you, even when you’re trying to lower your cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fats are the kind of fats you actually want to include in your diet, not just because they’re good for you in general, but because they also help with high cholesterol.
Diets high in monounsaturated fats have been shown to lower LDL (bad lipoprotein) and also raise HDL (good lipoprotein). Monounsaturated fats can also prevent the oxidation of lipoproteins, which will in turn help prevent clogged arteries. Healthy plant-based sources of monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, avocados, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts and cashews.
At the same time as you increase these good fats, you’ll also want to reduce your intake of trans fats, which not only raise your levels of bad cholesterol and> lower your levels of good cholesterol.
Trans fats (also known as hydrogenated oils) are a major contributor to heart disease, so reducing our intake is crucial regardless of cholesterol levels. Trans fats can be found in a huge variety of foods, especially fried foods and also packaged cookies, cakes and biscuits found on your supermarket shelf.
Always look for “partially hydrogenated” on the label to recognise what you should avoid.
Tip: make the Pulse Sacred Meal an integral part of your day, as the nuts, seeds, fruits and grains can contribute to a healthy, cholesterol-fighting diet.
3. Consume Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a powerhouse of health, especially if you’re dealing with high cholesterol levels. Cut out your red meat consumption and include more sources of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet to see a reduction in your LDL levels. Plant-based sources that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, include walnuts and flax seeds (and their oils).
5. Exercise More
The benefit of exercise can never be overstated, but if you’re trying to understand how to reduce your cholesterol levels, exercise is a key component in making that happen. It helps your heart health from every angle, by combating obesity, improving your physical fitness, and lowering LDL levels while raising HDL levels.
The best part is, any type of exercise benefits you, even low-intensity walking.
Many studies show that just 30-45 minutes of brisk walking five days a week can reverse high cholesterol, lower your risk of heart disease and even add years to your life.
Exercise can also cause a domino effect and improve your health on all fronts, from encouraging you to eat healthier, reduce sedentary time, and make you less stressed and prone to emotional eating. These low-impact exercises can help you ease back into exercising quickly and effectively.
6. Lose Weight
This might be an obvious answer to the question of how to reduce cholesterol levels, but it’s an important one. When you’re fighting high cholesterol, it’s not always enough to include more of the good stuff in your diet. You also need to bring the scale down, which can help increase the absorption of cholesterol from the diet and help prevent the body from creating new cholesterol.
With weight loss, over time you’ll notice higher levels of good cholesterol in the body and lower levels of bad cholesterol, even if you change nothing else in your lifestyle.
Learn more in 6 Healthy Ways To Lose Weight & Keep It Off
7. Decrease Alcohol Intake
A great strategy to live longer without eliminating all indulgences is to enjoy everything in moderation. This strategy applies to alcohol consumption, because while it would be more beneficial for your health to drink no alcohol at all, for some people, it might be more realistic to simply cut out most of your alcohol consumption.
This is particularly true when you’re trying to lower high cholesterol, because in moderation, the ethanol in alcohol can actually increase HDL (good cholesterol) and even reduce the risk of heart disease.
Alcohol can also help transport cholesterol back to the liver, preventing clogged arteries. Of course, “in moderation” is key here because too much alcohol can quickly cause much more harm.
8. Spice Up Your Meals
Spices can be an important addition to your diet, for a few key reasons. Not only do spices help flavour healthy food and make it more appealing to eat while also suppressing the appetite, but they can also help reduce cholesterol levels. This is particularly true for garlic, curcumin, ginger, black pepper, coriander and cinnamon, meaning you can still eat delicious-tasting food while working to lower cholesterol levels.
9. Relax and Laugh More
Reducing stress by relaxing and laughing more isn’t just good for your mental health, it can actually help raise your good cholesterol levels. Stress can also cause you to forego healthy habits and turning to unhealthy habits like eating junk food, skipping your workouts, and indulging in alcohol and smoking. By ensuring you’re giving yourself plenty of self care, you’re directly fighting high cholesterol.
Tip: the right essential oils can decrease your stress naturally and effectively, while increasing clarity, relaxation, and positivity.
You don’t have to take medication to lower your cholesterol. You can learn how to reduce high cholesterol naturally and effectively thanks to these seven simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, without ever touching a pill.
These tips can not only reduce your bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol levels, but they can also overhaul your entire health and lead to a longer, healthier life that helps you thrive now and for years to come.
Tolman Self Care.