If you are looking for ways to lower your cholesterol , you need to know that not all cholesterol is bad. In fact, it is essential for body functions and for synthesizing vitamin D , bile acid and some hormones. While LDL (low density lipoproteins) are harmful because they tend to adhere to the walls of the arteries, HDL (high density lipoproteins) are really good. HDLs even help eliminate excess cholesterol. But as you get older, your cholesterol levels increase naturally. Men over 45 and women over 55, or after menopause, are particularly prone to high cholesterol levels. But if you see that your cholesterol levels increase when you are away from that dangerous age, you need to be careful. Although the balance between HDL and LDL is the most important factor, total cholesterol levels should also be below 200 mg / dL. Your LDLs should be below 100 mg / dL and HDL above 40 mg / dL. Since statins have many side effects, you can reduce bad cholesterol levels naturally through diet and lifestyle changes.
This is due to the gram of cholesterol you need daily for body functions, 200 mg come from food. When you eat foods high in cholesterol or foods that in turn produce more cholesterol in the body, you will be at an increased risk of disease. But because an HDL-LDL imbalance shows no symptoms, you need to keep checking your cholesterol levels every 5 years after your 20th birthday.
1. Limit your Daily Sugar Intake to 6-9 Tablespoons:
You may think that fatty foods are the only ones guilty of raising your cholesterol levels and subsequent heart disease. But sugar could be even more harmful. As a recent research study states, the sugar industry had manipulated the results of a 1967 study on risk factors for coronary heart disease, minimizing the role of sugar and blaming all fats. But later, studies found that people who have too much sugar have low levels of HDL and a high level of triglycerides. Triglycerides are another type of fat in your body. A low level of HDL and a high level of triglycerides are the two main risk factors for heart disease. Low-calorie sweeteners are also harmful in this regard. In addition, sugar increases inflammation in the body, including in the arteries. Directly or through elevated cholesterol levels, inflammation can lead to atherosclerosis, which makes sugar a risk factor for heart disease. Limit your daily sugar intake to only 25 g or 6 teaspoons (women) and 38 g or 9 teaspoons (men), according to the American Heart Association . Therefore, to stay within the limits, avoid not only table sugar, but anything that has “syrup” or ends in “bear” in your list of ingredients. Foods high in sugar include soft drinks, energy drinks, bread, pasta sauce and salad dressings.
Tip: Instead of opting for low-fat and high-sugar foods, opt for higher-fat variants without trans fat.
2. Avoid Trans Fats as in Packaged Foods:
It is undeniable that packaged foods make life easier and that the longer they last, the better. But trans or hydrogenated fats that prolong the shelf life of food also charge a high price.
“These artificially solidified vegetable oils can alter your cholesterol balance by reducing HDL levels”.
Although the use of trans fats is prohibited, you may still find them in fast food. Avoid any food whose package says “partially hydrogenated oils” or “trans fats.” Avoid foods fried in hydrogenated fats, such as chips and chicken; packaged baked goods such as crackers, candy and cakes; Hard margarine and even some dietary supplements. Limit but do not avoid the natural trans fats found in dairy products and some meats such as beef and lamb. Meals in small quantities can increase HDL levels in women.
3. Reduce Saturated Fats, such as Red Meat and Whole Milk:
When it comes to cholesterol levels, the US Department of Health and Human Services believes that saturated fats are a greater threat than trans fats, simply because diets are richer in saturated fats than in trans fats.
Limit saturated fats such as red meat, fatty cuts of meat, poultry with skin, butter, cheese, lard and whole milk products. You don’t have to avoid them altogether. But only 7% of daily calories should come from saturated fat. Taking more than that can increase your LDL levels.
4. Reduce Cholesterol-Rich Foods such as Lobsters and Egg Yolk:
Foods that contain saturated fats and cholesterol generally come from the same animal sources. But dietary cholesterol is not as harmful as saturated fats. This is because it increases both HDL and LDL, balancing them. In addition, there seems to be no relationship between dietary cholesterol and heart disease. However, if you already have a high LDL and total cholesterol content, reduce the consumption of high cholesterol foods.
Limit cholesterol intake to 200 mg daily. Reduce the consumption of foods such as red meat, liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, lobster and whole milk dairy products, including butter, cream and cheese. While you can take as many egg whites as you want, take the yolk of a single medium-sized egg a day.
5. Eat Unsaturated Fats such as Avocado and Fatty Fish:
Not all fats are bad. Unsaturated fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats actually help reduce blood cholesterol levels. The TLC diet program of the US Department of Health and Human Services suggests that 25-35% of daily calories may come from fat, most of which come from unsaturated fats and only 7% from saturated. The omega-3 , a type of polyunsaturated fat rich in fatty fish such as salmon, can help prevent inflammation in the arteries and the subsequent blood clotting, reducing the risk of heart disease. If you are looking for a vegetarian option, choose nuts and avocados. Avocados can reduce cholesterol naturally, thanks to their monounsaturated fats that reduce LDL and triglycerides and increase HDL.
Food to Eat:
- Monounsaturated fats:Olive oil (about 77% of monounsaturated fats), canola oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, avocados, flaxseeds and most nuts (especially nuts).
- Polyunsaturated fats:Fatty fish such as wild salmon, herring, trout, tuna and mackerel; vegetable oils such as safflower, olive oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil and peanut oil; tofu; soy; nuts such as nuts; and seeds like sunflower seeds.
Tip: Eat at least 2 fish meals a week. But if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid fish such as mackerel or swordfish, which probably have high levels of mercury poisoning.
6. Eat more Soluble Fiber: Oatmeal, Fruits and Seeds:
Although soluble fibers, derived from plants, do not add any nutritional value to your diet, they help reduce blood cholesterol. Most of the fibrous vegetables you eat will also have insoluble fiber, which gives you the added benefit of keeping your bowels clean. Soluble fibers dissolve in a gelatinous substance and cover the intestinal walls, preventing the absorption of fat and cholesterol in the bloodstream. They also promote the growth of useful bacteria in the intestine and help in intestinal cleansing, adding benefits to your digestive system. Fiber-rich foods also keep you satiated for longer, reducing your appetite and your calorie intake. Take 10-25 g of soluble fiber every day. Eat whole foods like barley and oatmeal; fruits with the skin, such as berries, bananas and apples; leafy vegetables and crucifers such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts; legumes such as beans and dried peas; and flax and chia seeds.
Tip: Increase fiber intake gradually to allow your body to adapt. If you feed your body with a fiber overdose, you may respond with abdominal cramping or bloating.
7. Eat Plant Stanols and Sterols Such as Carrots and Blueberries:
Plants have certain cholesterol-like substances called sterols and stanols. Due to their structural similarity, they are often absorbed in the intestines instead of real cholesterol. They also inhibit the absorption of bile. To produce more bile, extra cholesterol is depleted, thus reducing blood cholesterol levels. These compounds also help reduce LDL levels without affecting HDL levels. Studies have shown that taking 2 g of plant sterols and stanols could reduce LDL levels by 8-10%. Plant sterols also have an antioxidant activity, which prevents LDL from oxidizing and increases the risk of atherosclerosis. Remember that this will only work if you already have a high risk of heart disease or if your cholesterol levels are high. The recommended amount is 1.5 g to 2.4 g of plant sterols. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables such as yellow squash, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, plums and blueberries; wheat germ, wheat bran, peanuts, Brussels sprouts, vegetable oils such as corn, sesame, canola and olive oil; and nuts like almonds.
Caution: Plant stanols and sterols should be avoided by pregnant and lactating women. As the intestinal absorption of vitamins and beta-carotene also decreases, compensate by eating many fruits and vegetables, including at least one rich in beta-carotene such as carrots, broccoli and apricots.
8. Try Natural Remedies such as Apple Cider Vinegar and Ashwagandha:
You may not believe that the answer to lower cholesterol may be in salad dressing, but studies have found that apple cider vinegar has cholesterol lowering effects. This vinegar made from the fermentation of apple cider has powerful antioxidants that can reduce LDL and triglycerides and increase HDL. Mix 1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water and drink it before a meal or use it as a salad dressing or vinaigrette. Traditional Ayurvedic herb rejuvenation ashwagandha (W ithania somnifera ) or Indian ginseng also has the ability to lower cholesterol. It has shown a reduction in LDL and total cholesterol levels along with an increase in muscle activity. Its antioxidant flavonoids are said to prevent the oxidation of LDL and therefore prevent plaque formation. In addition, ashwagandha has not shown any side effects in clinical studies. The standard dose is 3-6 g of ashwagandha root powder per day, but you should speak with an Ayurvedic doctor to find out which dose works best for you.
9. Stop Worrying and Reduce Stress:
High cholesterol can be an indicator of stress , which in itself is a risk factor for heart disease. Stress promotes the production of cholesterol in the liver because cholesterol is necessary for the synthesis of the stress hormone cortisol. Take some time to relax in your day. An evening detox bath with lavender essential oil and Epsom salts can help calm your mind and reduce your body’s need to increase cholesterol production. Try these simple yoga poses to relieve stress.
10. Exercise Regularly and Count Calories:
No list of healthy practices is complete without exercise. From making sure your heart stays healthy through increased blood circulation to allowing you to let off steam a little, regular exercise can help reduce your risks of high cholesterol and heart disease. Because being overweight or obese is a risk factor for high cholesterol, exercise will also help you control your weight, lowering your LDL levels and raising HDL levels. Limiting your daily calorie intake will help you further control your weight.
Tip: Perform at least a total of 30 minutes of a moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking most, if not all, days of the week.
Caution: If you have a medical condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure or arthritis, or if you are over 40 years of age, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.
Extra Tip: Stop Smoking:
The chemicals in tobacco can irritate the walls of your arteries, promoting inflammation and plaque formation. To make matters worse, LDLs also increase and HDLs decrease – the perfect recipe for heart disease. Overcome your addiction and quit smoking. This will help you increase and normalize your HDL levels. More HDL means less availability of LDL in tissues, decreasing the chances of clogged arteries. What’s more, this increase occurs quickly after quitting, probably after 3 weeks.
Some Additional Tips:
- Instead of using salt, sugar or fat to make foods tastier, use spices (turmeric, basil and rosemary) and herbs. While adding flavor, they also suppress inflammation.
- Have a lipoprotein profile blood test after a fast of 9 to 12 hours to find out your cholesterol levels: total cholesterol, HDL and LDL. People 20 years of age or older should have this test at least once every 5 years.
- To reduce the risks of atherosclerosis and heart disease in general, limit the consumption of sodium, alcohol and caffeine.