How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally
That means that there are over 100 million Americans who are either being prescribed, or at risk of being prescribed Statins - drugs that reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol in individuals. The downside? These drugs often come with brutal side effects which include headaches, muscle pain, permanent liver damage, and much more.
As a result, many people seek to lower their cholesterol naturally through moderating their diet, introducing natural supplements, and changing their exercise routines.
Here are our top 7 strategies that you can start to implement today to lower your cholesterol naturally:
1. Consider Taking Cereal Beta-glucan
Typically, it's much easier to introduce a new food to your diet than to change existing habits, and that's why adding cereal beta-glucan fiber to your diet can be one of the easiest ways to naturally lower your cholesterol.
What is cereal beta-glucan? It's a naturally occurring water soluble fiber that is found in the cell walls of whole grains, such as oats and barley.
Barley beta-glucan has been extensively researched and scientifically proven to naturally reduce cholesterol levels in individuals. All you must do is introduce at least 3 grams of this fiber into your diet every day and you can expect to see decreased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in 4 to 12 weeks.
Companies such as Cerabeta and Nutrastat are using new technology to naturally extract beta-glucan fiber, making this fiber an affordable way to lower cholesterol naturally.
2. Cut Trans-Fat and Consume Saturated Fat in Moderation
Trans fats and excess consumption of saturated fat have been linked to raising LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the body, increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Trans-fat (otherwise known as trans-fatty acid) is created through an industrial process which adds hydrogen to vegetable oils, resulting in a partially solid hydrogenated oil that has a far-extended shelf life compared to healthier oil alternatives.
Foods high in trans-fat are often made with margarines and shortenings. These two ingredients are often found in:
- Bakery goods such as cakes, cookies, and croissants (note - these can be made without any trans fats, using butter or oil as an alternative. Be sure to check the package if possible.)
- Deep fried foods such as french fries, fried chicken, fish-and-chips
- Processed foods such as frozen pizza, microwave popcorn, and non-dairy creamers
Saturated fat occurs naturally and is primarily found in animal products. These fats tend to be solid at room temperature and should be consumed in moderation.
Foods high in saturated fat include:
- Fatty meats such as steak, short ribs, pork ribs, pork chops, and lamb
- Processed meats such as pepperoni, hot dogs, sausages, and cured ham
- Dried coconut
- Milk and dairy products such as cheese, milk, cream, yogurt, and desserts (ice cream, whipped cream.)
- Butter, lard, and palm oil
Our tip: check the labels and prepare more meals at home! Trans-fat and saturated fat can be easily avoided/moderated by checking the nutrition facts on food products you buy at the store. Making more meals at home provides you with a greater opportunity to know exactly what you are eating.
3. Eat More Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated fats (more specifically, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) are what we know as the "healthy fats" and should be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. These fats are essential for proper bodily function and are almost always found in a liquid state at room temperature.
Monounsaturated fats can have a benefit on your heart when eaten in moderation and can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. These are a great substitute for saturated fats or trans-fats.
Foods high in monounsaturated fats include:
- Olive oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil
- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans
- Pumpkin and sesame seeds
The two main polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 fatty acid and omega-6 fatty acid. These are both essential fats, meaning we as humans need them for proper bodily functioning but we do not create them for ourselves. Therefore, we must look to our diet for a source of these fats.
Seek out foods high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid such as:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, and mackerel
- Seed such as flax seeds and chia seeds
- Nuts such as walnuts
Our tip: when in doubt, always opt for liquid cooking oils instead of butter or other solid fats. Many dishes can be prepared with olive oil or cold pressed oils, plus, it's great for your skin!
4. Boost Your Soluble Fiber
Eating foods high in soluble fiber helps to improve your digestion and has proven to actively lower your LDL cholesterol levels. This is because soluble fibers bind to the bad LDL cholesterol in your gut and remove it from the body.
Foods high in soluble fiber include:
- Whole grains such as cooked barley, oatmeal, and quinoa
- Fats such as avocado, chia seeds, and flax seeds
- Legumes such as chickpeas and black/kidney/lima/soybeans
- Vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, cabbage, onions, and green beans
- Starchy vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, and green peas
- Fruits such as bananas, apples, oranges, peaches, dried or fresh mango, apricots, and prunes
- Berries such as strawberries blackberries, and blueberries
Our tip: combine specific ingredients to make certain meals high in soluble fiber, such as eating a fiber-rich cereal with fresh bananas and blueberries. You can also consider adding fiber supplements such as Cerabeta to your meals for a huge boost in soluble fiber.
5. Watch How You Prepare Meals
Not only do the ingredients matter, but the way you cook meals can have an impact on your total cholesterol levels.
It is recommended that you avoid cooking meals in ways that increase total amount of trans-fat and excessive saturated fat, such as frying with shortening and margarine, or deep frying. Instead, opt to cook your meals by boiling, poachine, baking, or grilling.
Additionally, be sure you are trimming any excess fats from meat, such as removing the skin from chicken. While chicken is a great choice for reducing cholesterol, chicken skin is high in fat. one "skin-on" chicken leg can have more fat than your average hamburger.
6. Increase Your Daily Exercise
While changes to your diet is likely the best place to start lowering your cholesterol, exercise can have a positive impact as well.
Many studies have proven that increasing daily exercise has a positive impact on increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol levels - the type of cholesterol that prevents harmful cholesterol buildup in the body. There is also evidence showing that exercise paired with a low cholesterol diet helps to decrease the LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in individuals compared to those who didn't exercise.
How much exercise does it take? It depends! The key is to increase the amount of movement you do every day until you are at about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week, the amount experts generally recommend. Here are a few ways you can consider increasing the amount you exercise:
- Start going for a daily walk. Not only is this great for your overall health, it can also have a positive impact on your mental health and overall happiness
- Get into Yoga. There are many additional benefits associated with a regular yoga practice
- Take the stairs whenever possible and/or park further away from the store
- Join a recreational sports team; take up a new sport, or get back into an old one
- Head over to the pool. Swimming laps is a great low-impact, full body workout!
No matter what it is, just make sure you are doing something physical every day. If you make it part of your normal routines, you should eventually be able to work up to that recommended 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week.
7. Work on Establishing Good Habits
Finally, our last strategy is to work on setting some good habits. Lowering your cholesterol naturally takes a bit of dedication and won't happen overnight. For each of these strategies to work, you will have to commit some time and energy to them.
Expect the change to occur slowly, but remain dedicated to lowering your cholesterol. Start to figure out habits that are easy for you and keep at them. For a starting point, commit to these habits starting tomorrow and then slowly work your way up to everything on this list in the weeks ahead:
- Get out for a 10-minute walk around the block every day
- Start reading the nutrition facts at the grocery store and don’t buy any products that are high in saturated or trans fat
- Plan to have fish with high omega-3 acids such as salmon for dinner this week
- Use olive oil instead of margarine whenever possible
- Order up some beta-glucan fiber and add it into your breakfast this week
If you have any additional strategies that have worked for you, please leave them in the comments section! Let’s work together to help everyone lower their cholesterol naturally.