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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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                    Published on November 29, 2018

                    When is the Best Time to Workout to Get Incredible Results

                    When is the Best Time to Workout to Get Incredible Results

                    “I don’t have time”

                    is the number one excuse people give when they’re asked how come they don’t exercise.

                    In the book The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz, it says that it’s management of our energy levels and not time that is the key to higher performance. If we kept our energy levels in check and made sure that every part of our lives contributed to positive energy levels, we would be able to get more done.

                    One of those aspects that give us energy is exercise.

                    Exercise is the fuel that gives us energy and an activity that keeps on giving even if we are sitting around day in the office and in meetings.

                    Reaping the benefits of a good workout is immediate. We have better focus and concentration; we are more alert and awake; we manage our mood better and have more creativity after a good workout than if we skipped the gym.

                    If you’d like to get started working out I’m going cover the pros and cons to exercising at different times of the day so that you can find a time that fits for your lifestyle and schedule.

                    So, when is the best time to work out? Let’s get started!

                    Working out in the Morning

                    Most people aspire to exercise first thing in the morning and get it out of the way. If this is you, read on to find out the additional benefits of getting your workout done in the morning.

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                    Benefits of Morning Workouts

                    1. The rest of the day is yours

                    Exercise and lifting weights is a staple and a habit in my life but it’s also the biggest to-do on my list. When I exercise first thing in the morning, then I’m free to do whatever I want the rest of the day. This is why I have a very strong preference of exercising in the morning as oppose to afternoons or evenings.

                    I schedule my day with my biggest to-dos first while I have the energy and focus at the beginning of the day. But the more I procrastinate about my workout and putting it on my list for later, the bigger that reminder to exercise sits on my shoulder.

                    My mind feels free when I finish my workout and this is the main reason I get my exercise in as soon as the day allows; and if I have to get up before the sun rises, then so be it.

                    2. Gyms are less crowded and there is more equipment available

                    Here’s the best part about working out early in the morning – there is not competition for equipment.

                    Most people typically struggle with getting up early in the morning except for the elderly. And in the morning, the gym floors are pretty sparse, this means there is no wait for equipment or competing for floor space.

                    I live in the crowded city of San Francisco where the gyms are packed once it gets to 9 AM, so the best times to get in if I want a squat rack is before 8 AM. Plus, the gym equipment is organized so I can find the free weights I want without much effort and there is usually a bench available.

                    3. You have more energy and more clarity to fire up the day

                    After you drag yourself to the gym at the crack of dawn, you will walk out of there with more energy and clarity then when you stepped in. Not only will you wide awake but you have extra energy on top of your cup of coffee.

                    The extra burst of creativity and focus keeps you productive so that you’re able to make more progress on your projects at work and finish earlier.

                    4. You become more consistent

                    The ones who see results are the ones who are consistent and morning people are definitely more consistent than people who postpone their workouts later in the day.[1]

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                    This is because as the day starts to unfold, unexpected meetings and events come up that can cut into or even eliminate gym time. If you want to workout more consistently, get your workout in first thing in the morning before life happens.

                    Downsides of Morning Workouts

                    1. You’re a zombie on the floor

                    Of course dragging yourself out of bed before the sun rises is why most people struggle with morning workouts. Some of us, like me, don’t want to talk to anyone before a certain time and get really short on a lack of sleep.

                    To combat morning zombie, make sure to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

                    2. Your preparation starts the night before

                    Your workout may happen in the morning but your preparation starts the night before. If you’re a last minute person and not a planner, you will struggle in the mornings to get out the door in time.

                    Packing everything you need for the gym in the morning is the key to getting to your workout in that day. Support successful mornings by modifying your night time routine in order to prepare for the next day.

                    How to Make It Easier to Wake Up

                    The first step is to make a commitment and stick with it. Don’t go back and forth the night before on whether you should go to the gym in the morning.

                    Make the decision to go in the morning and focus your energy on making it happen.

                    When you create that habit, you do it even if your workout is less than optimal and you’re not completely ‘all there’ or you’re a zombie in the morning. Just keep going because repetition makes it easier and the more often you go, the easier it gets.

                    Eventually your brain will catch up and start to automatically be awake at those times.

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                    A question you can ask yourself is what can you do to make it easier for you?

                    Can you set your workout clothes out the night before? Or have your breakfast prepared the night before? Or if you’re an alarm snoozer, put your alarm across the room and set back up alarms to make sure you get out of bed to shut them off.

                    Again, what can you do to make it 20 seconds easier to help you get up and out of the door in the morning?

                    Working out in the Afternoon/Evening

                    So what about working out in the evening? Is it a good time to help achieve your fitness goals?

                    Benefits of Evening Workouts

                    1. Your body performance is at its peak

                    When you’re training in the afternoon, your warm ups can be shorter because your body temperature increases throughout the day.

                    A higher body temperature leads to increased flexibility,[2] overall muscle strength,[3] and increased endurance.

                    Not only does the combination of low blood pressure and heart rate in the afternoon lead to faster reaction times and better performance, but also less likelihood injury.

                    At the same time the muscle growth hormone testosterone also peaks in the afternoon which is great for maximizing resistance training.

                    2. An accountability partner is easier to come by

                    If you’re someone who needs accountability partner to make it to the gym consistently, it could be easier to find a workout buddy in the afternoon than it is in the early morning. There is more flexibility in scheduling during lunch or after work as oppose to early mornings because it could cut into your sleep.

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                    3. You have more class options

                    If you’re a class person or like to attend group classes, I found that there are more class options in the afternoon/evening times versus mornings. So your favorite instructor may teach a couple more classes in the afternoon during the week giving you more flexibility in your schedule.

                    4. It’s a great way to destress after a long day

                    One of my favorite reasons to workout in the afternoon is the relief it provides after a long day at work. This is especially true for those who work long stressful hours. That hour you spend at the gym is dedicated you time to zone out is completely relaxing for the mind.[4]

                    Downsides of Evening Workouts

                    1. Consistency could take a back seat

                    Postponing your workouts till later in the day means you are more likely to skip your workouts because of an unexpected event. You’re also more likely to be low on energy after a long stressful day or you have to stay late at work and cancel your workout.

                    I find afternoon and evening workouts challenging because I’m ready to wind down after a long day and instead have to find the energy to wind up and be mentally prepared for my workout.

                    2. Crowded gyms and classes

                    For the most part, gyms are packed in the afternoon because of the after work crowd and in some cases gyms require you to RSVP to classes ahead of time due to limited spots. Majority of the people prefer working out after work and you’ll see an influx in crowds at the gym.

                    3. Additional preparation required

                    Working out after work means you need to be more mindful of your meals and make sure that you have prepared additional snacks to help you get through your workout.

                    It also means lugging around an extra bag with your gym clothes and other essentials.

                    Conclusion

                    At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what time of day you workout because your body will adjust to your schedule when you go the same times every time. What’s important is that you find a time that you can go to the gym consistently that works with your schedule.

                    It’s important to be consistent because consistency is what’s going to get you results. The road to results is simple but not easy. Mastering consistency year round is what is going to make you leaner and stronger one year from now.

                    Featured photo credit: Autumn Goodman via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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