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Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

Cholesterol is probably one of the most controversial and misunderstood components of overall health, and there are many simple ways to lower cholesterol that you may not be aware of. You may also have many questions about which foods are best for lower cholesterol numbers. For example, do we need any dietary cholesterol at all? Should we be concerned about high cholesterol or just certain types of cholesterol? What does cholesterol even do in the human body? Here’s some basic information as well as practical advice you can incorporate today in order to lower your cholesterol levels naturally.

First of all, what is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a necessary part of the human body’s daily processes. Cholesterol refers to a waxy substance that can be formed by our body that our bodies are designed to produce, although dietary cholesterol can be consumed in our diet from animal sources (such as chicken, eggs, fish, meat, etc.) or processed foods that contain cholesterol. Unlike other types of fat, cholesterol can’t be burned off or exercised away. It tends to “stick around” which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what type of cholesterol your body makes more of.

Types of Cholesterol and What Each One Means

The Center for Disease Control states that over 73.5 million adults have high LDL cholesterol. Of the two types of cholesterol (LDL and HDL), LDL is the detrimental type. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. Don’t let those words confuse you; the term lipoprotein can be defined as fat attached to protein. Lipoproteins are like water-soluble bubbles that the body forms to transport cholesterol to various tissues. LDL cholesterol is the type of cholesterol that is linked to heart disease and often associated with the intake of too much dietary cholesterol. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein, and HDL is what is often referred to as good cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is the type of cholesterol that can actually help lower LDL cholesterol in the body and is even used to produce sex hormones in the body.

How Diet Plays a Role in Cholesterol

Our body is designed to produce its own necessary levels of cholesterol that we need to function and thrive meaning it’s not necessary to worry about getting enough dietary cholesterol. Animal sources of food and processed foods are the only sources of dietary cholesterol; plant foods have no cholesterol by nature. However, too much animal protein and processed food intake have been associated with high cholesterol levels, so it’s smart to educate yourself about what sources of animal-based foods you should eat and which ones you should avoid. It’s even more important to focus on your overall diet so you can include plenty of heart-healthy superfoods that naturally combat high cholesterol and support overall health.

Superfoods that Fight High Cholesterol

These foods are packed with antioxidants and cholesterol-lowering properties. Some of them also contain healthy fats that can actually help your body produce more HDL cholesterol and less LDL cholesterol.

1. Oats

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Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

    Rolled oats and steel cut oats are two of the most heart-healthy grains you can eat if you’re looking for high-quality carbohydrates that won’t spike your blood sugar levels. Oats have consistently been linked to lowering LDL cholesterol levels in the body thanks to their beta-glucan fibers which help draw cholesterol out of the bloodstream and excrete it for healthy artery function.

    Prepare your oats warm with some berries and walnuts, or feel free to enjoy them as overnight oats by mixing dry oats with chia seeds, flax seeds, berries, and some almond milk. Let overnight oats sit in the fridge overnight, and in the morning you have a chilled, filling breakfast all ready to go!

    2. Blueberries

    Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

      Blueberries help fight free radicals in the body and support arterial function. They can help clear the blood of fatty tissues and also help support the entire heart. Include 1/2 cup of blueberries anywhere in your day, and feel free to mix them with other berries you might enjoy such as blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries.

      3. Pastured Eggs

      Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

        Eggs can be a great source of healthy fats, but it’s important to choose high-quality eggs whenever you can. All eggs offer HDL dietary cholesterol that can help lower LDL levels, are a complete source of protein, and can be an incredibly nutritious food. Just keep in mind that pastured eggs offer the benefit of coming from hens who are allowed to feed off natural pastures instead of processed feed. Hens (and other animals) who feed off pasture are often healthier than those given processed feed. Hens who are pastured also produce eggs with a brighter, golden-yellow yolk indicating that the egg is higher in nutrients like choline and omega-3 fats.

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        Individuals with heart conditions should check with their doctor or medical provider before consuming any sources of dietary cholesterol, including eggs. Eggs make a great breakfast, snack, or part of a vegetarian dinner. They can be prepared various ways from hard-boiled to soft-boiled, scrambled, or even baked into muffin cups. These options are also healthier than eggs fried with high amounts of butter or oil.

        4. Spinach and Kale

        Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

          Leafy greens like kale and spinach offer high amounts of antioxidants such as lutein that improve heart health and may contribute to better cholesterol levels. Leafy greens are also good sources of fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin E that the body needs. Spinach and kale can be used in any meal such as an omelet, a smoothie, as a bed for salads, stirred into soups, or they can be braised and steamed for a healthy side at dinner. Season your greens with herbs and spices instead of high amounts of oil or high-fat sauces for a heart-healthy approach.

          5. Lean Fish

          Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

            Fish can be an excellent source of omega-3 fats to help lower LDL and improve HDL levels in the body, but it’s important to choose lean fish whenever possible or those with high-quality omega-3 fats like salmon. It’s also important to consider sourcing wild fish whenever possible since farmed fish are often contaminated and high in environmental pollutants. Look for lean, white fish and wild Alaskan salmon. Halibut, tilapia, skipjack tuna, mahi mahi, cod, and haddock are all examples of lean white fish. Albacore tuna is also a good source but higher in mercury than skipjack tuna.

            6. Avocado

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            Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

              Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats which are a type of fat that improves HDL levels and lowers LDL levels in the body. Consume 1/4 an avocado to 1/3 avocado once every few days in order to reap the benefits of this fiber-rich fatty fruit. Avocado can be used in place of mayo on sandwiches, can be used to make a homemade dressing, can be added to salads and smoothies, and makes a nice creamy base for tuna salad in place of mayo.

              7. Legumes

              Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

                Lentils, beans, and peas offer high amounts of slow-digesting fibers that improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels in the body. Legumes are also free of dietary fat and contain natural sources of iron, B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium. Make a hearty lentil soup, use beans in your salads, or try swapping split peas or chickpeas in for various soups instead of meat once and awhile. This is a great way to not only improve your heart health but also your budget too!

                8. Raw Cacao, Dark Chocolate and Cocoa

                Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

                  Raw cacao, a high-quality dark chocolate, and plain cocoa powder are excellent sources of both fiber and antioxidants. Raw cacao or dark chocolate with at least 90 percent cacao levels even offers a nice dose of monounsaturated fats that lower LDL cholesterol and improve HDL cholesterol levels when consumed in small amounts each day (about an ounce). Cocoa powder is low in fat but still have in fiber and antioxidants that may improve cholesterol levels. It makes a great addition to smoothies, can be used in baked goods in place of (or in addition to) flour, and can even be stirred into yogurt and oatmeal!

                  9. Almonds and Walnuts

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                  Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

                    Though nuts aren’t required for a healthy heart, they can make for a great snack option in place of chips and processed sweets. Most nuts offer high amounts of beneficial fats, but almonds and walnuts contain special benefits that make them especially great for cholesterol levels. Almonds are high in fiber, protein, and monounsaturated fats, and they’re overall lower in fat per serving than most other types of nuts. Walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Six walnuts or 21 almonds (one ounce) is the perfect serving size of each nut, and they can be used in oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, or eaten as a heart-healthy snack. Do your best to consume raw and unsalted nuts when possible to avoid high amounts of sodium or added oils used in roasted nuts.

                    More Tips to Fight High Cholesterol

                    Diet is important, but it’s also vital to manage daily stress, get at least 7-8 hours sleep each night, and live an overall healthy lifestyle in order to lower your cholesterol. Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol are also important. Remember that all fruits and vegetables are a part of a heart-healthy routine, so incorporate as many of them as you can for better cholesterol levels and to decrease your risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other conditions that affect your heart health.

                    When it comes to your meals, focus on adding in more greens, fruits, and vegetables into each one, and give special consideration to incorporating the nine superfoods above to improve your cholesterol levels even further. It’s also smart to avoid high-fat meats (especially red meat), dark meat chicken and turkey, and high amounts of butter and processed oils (like soy and vegetable oil).

                    For more ideas on how to lower cholesterol, see these five meal plans for some tasty ideas! 

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                    Last Updated on July 3, 2020

                    7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Workout

                    7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Workout

                    Maybe you like going on walks in your neighborhood or hiking in the park, taking in the sights and sounds of nature. Or perhaps, you like to push yourself with spin classes and work up a real sweat. Maybe that basketball at a local recreation league is your thing.

                    But even though you enjoy these activities and you like the way you feel when you are doing them, somehow lately, you haven’t been able to muster up the energy to participate.

                    There’s a “catch-22” that often happens when you’re wanting to work out, but you are not in the mood. Working out will boost your mood and make you feel better.[1]

                    But because of your current mood, you don’t want to work out. Does this conundrum sound familiar?

                    Anyone can get stuck in this rut from time to time. It could be that work has been taking too much out of you, or your family and personal commitments are eating up a lot of your time and energy. You’ve got to find a way to break out of this cycle.

                    Getting your groove back requires finding a way to getting back to working out; you need a way to get started again.

                    How can you get started? Use one of the following hacks to get you back on track. Find one or two of the ideas on this list that speak to you and that you think you can easily implement. Once you get your workout mojo back, you’ll be surprised at not only how much better you can feel in a short amount of time, but also how much better everything will seem.

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                    Here are 7 ways to motivate yourself to workout.

                    1. Don’t Get Sucked Into the Black Hole of the Couch

                    As soon as you come in the door from work, get your workout clothes on and hit the door. If you sit down on the comfy sofa, it will take more fortitude to get yourself going. Think of your sofa as quicksand and don’t get pulled into the trap.

                    It’s a simple law of physics—Newton’s first law: An object at rest tends to stay at rest; an object in motion tends to stay in motion.[2] You can nestle into the comfy couch after your workout. But first, while you’re in motion from your day, stay in motion and get your workout in.

                    2. Find an Accountability Partner

                    Studies show that having an accountability partner greatly increases your exercise frequency and success.[3] Talk to some of your friends and find someone who is interested who has the same schedule as you, and you’ll find it easier to motivate yourself to workout.

                    Maybe you have a friend who would love to hike early morning before work, or maybe you know someone that would like to hit a dance class right after work ends. Knowing that you have to meet someone else will make you think twice about blowing off your workout.

                    You don’t have to have all your workouts include your partner, but even if you meet this person once a week, that will give you a boost to want to keep your workout going on other days. If you really feel that you need an accountability partner all the time, then find 2-3 people and meet them 2-3 times a week.

                    One caveat: if your accountability partner cancels on you, be prepared for that and keep to your schedule. Everyone has things come up every now and then, but if you find your partner is frequently trying to cancel or reschedule, you probably need to find a new partner.

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                    3. Or, Make Yourself an Accountability Partner

                    Commit to 30 days of an exercise plan. Look at your calendar and plan out which days and times you are going to work out, including what that workout will be. Allow yourself two “do-overs” for random life events or illness—but only two.

                    For example, let’s say you have on your calendar that you are going to go to a spin class after work on a Tuesday, but a family member calls whose car broke down and you have to go assist.

                    You will rearrange that date of your spin class and find a different date to put it on the calendar, but you only want to do that for necessary external life events. Hitting the snooze button because you woke up too tired isn’t a good excuse.

                    If you can stick to 30 days of this plan, it should feel more like a habit and be simpler going forward as you reap the benefits of feeling better, mood boost, and more energy.

                    4. Integrate Some Mini-Movement Into Your Day

                    If you go into work and sit at a desk most of the day, it will feel good to get out and move your muscles afterward. But sometimes, it seems difficult to get out of that sedentary rut.

                    One solution is staying in touch with your body all throughout the day. Set a few timers on your phone during the day, and when they go off, take a few minutes to do different physical movements.

                    Stretching and doing forward bends or side bends are some ideas. You can stand against the wall and “peel” off of it, feeling each vertebra and releasing your lower back. Take off your shoes and wiggle your toes around. Do calf raises, standing up and lifting your heels up and down.

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                    These small movements done 2-3 times throughout your workday may seem insignificant, but they will keep your attuned to your physical self a bit more so that you will be more motivated to have some bigger, longer, “real” workout sessions.

                    Think of them as appetizers and your workout is the big meal.

                    5. Eat Something Fresh

                    Speaking of a big meal, what we eat and drink is related to how we feel. So, if you’re not eating particularly well these days, commit to at least eating one fresh item daily. Maybe you have an apple as an afternoon snack. Perhaps you fix a nice salad to go along with your dinner.

                    Sometimes, we’re so busy on the run that we don’t realize we’ve not been eating as fresh as we’d like. By making the conscious choice to seek out some fresh food, you’re taking care of yourself which in turn will make you think about those same kinds of choices when it comes to exercise.

                    Another benefit is that if you’re eating well, you may feel “lighter” and have more energy to work out.

                    6. Create an Alter Ego

                    It may sound kind of crazy at first, but employing the use of an alter ego can be a great way to break out of a habit or create some life changes you desire. In his book The Alter Ego Effect, Todd Herman illustrates how an Alter Ego is a mental trick to improve your life. Many famous entertainers have used alter egos to overcome stage fright.

                    How could this work for you? You may be too tired to work out at the end of the day, but your alter ego isn’t.

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                    Let’s say you create a character named “Ironman.” Sure, when you come in from a long day at work, you can talk yourself into wanting to relax on the couch. But Ironman doesn’t feel that way—he’s ready to throw on his sneakers and go for a run!

                    7. Water, Water Everywhere

                    Sometimes the simplest rules are the most important. We all know we are supposed to be hydrated throughout the day. But if you’re busy all day at work and you’ve nursed a big tumbler of coffee all morning, suddenly it might be early afternoon and you realize you haven’t had any water today.

                    Drinking water boosts mood and decreases fatigue.[4] These two factors will help you motivate yourself to workout.

                    Make sure you’re getting your water intake all throughout the day, and if you’ve had coffee, drink some extra water to counteract the dehydrating effect of it.

                    Final Thoughts

                    So, how are you planning to get going this week?

                    Motivate yourself to workout—pour yourself a big glass of water, get out your calendar, and think about what types of workouts you want to do.

                    Whether you call a friend and ask him/her to be an accountability partner, or whether you sketch out an alter ego for yourself so you can harness your power, you can use a hack to get you back on the track of being motivated to work out.

                    You know how good you feel when you do, so give yourself that gift. You don’t have to wait until tomorrow—go get your sneakers on!

                    More Tips to Motivate Yourself to Workout

                    Featured photo credit: Jonathan Borba via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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