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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 January 5, 2021

                    15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

                    15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

                    Starting a journey with fitness goals is never easy, and you must remember this is not a crash diet; it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once, as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diets are not sustainable.

                    The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits, and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good ones.

                    Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

                    Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

                    1. Drink More Water

                    W.H. Auden said it best when he said,

                    “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

                    With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrients to your bones and muscles, and even improving cognitive function.

                    Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day, i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

                    2. Add Some Lemon and Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

                    It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, but this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

                    The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing, and digestion.

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                    3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

                    Yes, keeping hydrated is important, but try to avoid high-calorie drinks, such as soft drinks, specialty coffee, and juices as they are full of fast-acting sugar.

                    Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks, and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

                    4. Start Stretching More Often

                    The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

                    Do yourself a favor and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility, and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

                    Here’re some simple stretching exercises to get you started: 15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

                    5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

                    You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now, and believe me when I say that it works and should absolutely be included in your fitness goals.

                    The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles, and fantastic hormonal benefits.

                    HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds), followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

                    Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

                    6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

                    For the most part, breathing is second nature, but when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath, and this can have negative consequences.

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                    It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, as this will fill your lungs with oxygen and give you the necessary energy to continue your workout.

                    7. Build More Lean Muscle

                    We all want to have lean muscles. Not only does it look good, but it also has great health benefits, including:

                    • Improved posture
                    • Reduced body fat
                    • Improved metabolism
                    • Strong bones
                    • Protects and improves joint health
                    • Improved stamina

                    You can build lean muscle by lifting weights or through other specific exercises. Learn more about building muscle in this guide: How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

                    8. Decrease Body Fat

                    This may seem like an obvious one, but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

                    • Improved joints and tendons
                    • Lowered risk of diabetes
                    • Reduced risk of heart disease
                    • Reduced inflammation
                    • Better performance and endurance
                    • Improved appearance and confidence
                    • Better hormonal profiles in your body

                    Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat. Healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week for your fitness goals.[2]

                    Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

                    Think of it as a lifestyle, and take it slow and steady.

                    9. Eat More Greens

                    What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

                    Focus on dark, leafy greens, as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants—all of which you body needs!

                    Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

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                    10. Start Eliminating Sugar

                    Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, and will save you money and improve your health in the long run.

                    There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar, and this should be one of your top fitness goals moving forward. Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

                    Be careful to eliminate sugar from your diet slowly. Cutting it out all at once can cause symptoms of sugar withdrawal, which can drive you back to sugary snacks[3].

                    Common symptoms of sugar withdrawal

                      11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recover

                      The workout is where you go to break down muscle tissue, and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest, and recovery[4]. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals, but that’s not the most effective approach.

                      If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

                      12. Get More Sleep

                      When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body, and over time these can lead to inflammation and chronic diseases.[5]

                      Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

                      13. Focus on the Habit, Not the Result

                      It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you closer to those fitness goals.

                      Don’t look at the scale, the tape measurer, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

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                      Don’t compare yourself to where others are; you’re right where you need to be.

                      14. Take Your Fitness Outside

                      This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

                      Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

                      Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more access to nature and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

                      15. Do at Least One Pull Up

                      This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

                      If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed, but it is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

                      The Bottom Line

                      These fitness goals will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline for when you want to accomplish some or all of these in order to create realistic goals in the short term. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

                      More on Setting Fitness Goals

                      Featured photo credit: Ivan Torres via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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