10 Natural Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol Levels
Limiting saturated fats in your diet, along with getting regular exercise and engaging in other healthy practices, may help lower the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in your blood.
There are two types:
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): High levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, may result in cholesterol deposits in blood vessel walls. This could lead to clogged arteries and an increased risk of heart attacks.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL): HDL, or “good” cholesterol, helps carry cholesterol away from blood vessel walls. Due to this, it helps prevent the conditions mentioned above.
Your liver produces as much cholesterol as your body needs. Yet several factors may influence these levels, including:
- your family history
- whether you smoke
- a sedentary lifestyle
- heavy alcohol consumption
This article discusses 10 ways to help improve your cholesterol levels.
Some people recommend an overall low fat diet for weight loss, but research is mixed on its effectiveness in managing blood cholesterol, according to experts.
In contrast, there’s strong evidence that a diet high in monounsaturated fats, such as the Mediterranean diet, helps reduce levels of harmful LDL and increase levels of healthy HDL.
Here are a few great sources of monounsaturated fats:
- olive oil
- nuts, such as almonds, cashews, and pecans
- canola oil
- nut butters
Research from 2018 shows that polyunsaturated fats reduce LDL cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.
Polyunsaturated fats may also reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an especially heart-healthy type of polyunsaturated fat. They’re found in fatty seafood and fish oil supplements, such as:
- deep sea tuna like bluefin or albacore
- shellfish (to a lesser degree), including shrimp
Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been modified by a process called hydrogenation. This makes the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils more stable.
The body handles trans fats differently than other fats, and not in a good way. Trans fats increase LDL and total cholesterol while decreasing beneficial HDL.
Foods that commonly contain trans fats include:
- margarine and shortening
- pastries and other baked goods
- some microwaveable popcorn
- fried fast foods
- some pizzas
- nondairy coffee creamer
Soluble fiber is a type of fiber that is abundant in plants and whole grains. Prioritizing whole grains can help lowerTrusted Source LDL cholesterol levels and may have a protective effect against cardiovascular diseases.
Some of the best sources of soluble fiber include:
Regular strength training alongside aerobic exercise can provide even more benefits.
Having excess weight or obesity can increase your riskTrusted Source of developing high cholesterol levels. Losing weight, if you have excess weight, can help lower your cholesterol levels.
Overall, weight loss has a double benefit on cholesterol by decreasing harmful LDL and increasing beneficial HDL. Consider working with a doctor to determine a nutrient-dense diet and sustainable weight management plan that works for you.
Smoking tobacco increases the risk of heart disease in several ways, including:
- increasing LDL
- decreasing HDL
- increasing cholesterol buildup in arteries
- affecting cholesterol transportation and absorption
Giving up smoking, if possible, can help reverse these harmful effects. A doctor can help you create a plan to quit smoking that’s best for you.
Alcohol’s role in providing heart-protective benefits is a controversial topic. According to a 2020 review of studies, some research indicates that when consumed in moderation, alcoholic drinks can increase good HDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source and AHA disagree. The AHA does not recommend drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage specifically to lower your cholesterol or improve heart health. Both organizations say there’s no credible research linking alcohol and improved heart health.
If you drink, the CDC suggests you consume only two drinks per day for males or one drink per day for females on days that you drink.
Consider plant sterols and stanols
Multiple types of supplements show promise for managing cholesterol. Plant stanols and sterols are plant versions of cholesterol. Because they resemble cholesterol, they’re absorbed by your body like cholesterol.
According to a 2018 research review, clinical studies show that taking 1.5–3 grams of plant sterols or stanols daily can reduce LDL concentration by 7.5–12%.
Small amounts of plant stanols and sterols are naturally found in vegetable oils and are added to certain oils and butter substitutes.
Read More: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-lower-cholesterol#try-supplements