Ways To Lower Cholesterol Naturally
(KUTV) Half of all Americans need to lower cholesterol. Of these people, most should be on a “statin” drug to lower cholesterol according to American Heart Association.
Based on medical science, Dr. John Day, a cardiologist at Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute gives his three best natural ways to lower cholesterol. All three have been proven to work better than the “statin” cholesterol lowering drugs.
1. Mediterranean Diet
Contrary to popular belief, the Mediterranean Diet is not an all you can eat pizza and pasta diet. Rather, the traditional Mediterranean Diet is a plant-based real food diet with some fish. In other words, you eat mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil, legumes, and real whole grains.
How well does the traditional Mediterranean Diet work to lower cholesterol?
Based on studies, the traditional Mediterranean Diet may lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) by about 10%. However, not only is the LDL reduced, but the LDL is also changed to a less dangerous form.
While the Mediterranean Diet may not lower cholesterol as much as a statin drug, it may be better at preventing heart disease. Indeed, a recent study showed that even in people with heart disease, the Mediterranean Diet was more protective than statins.
2. Ultra High Fiber Diet
Do you want to know the real secret to lower cholesterol? Eat more fiber.
Even though the U.S. government only recommends a mere 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you eat (28 grams of fiber daily based on a 2,000 calorie diet), the typical American can only get about 15 grams. These 15 grams are a far cry from the 100+ grams of fiber that studies show our hunter-gatherer ancestors used to eat each day.
A few years ago, researchers wanted to know what would happen to cholesterol levels if you ate 100+ grams of fiber each day. For two weeks, study volunteers ate more than 100 grams of fiber each day. Fiber supplements were not allowed.
After just two weeks, they dropped their LDL, or bad cholesterol, by 33%. This is more than what you see with statin cholesterol lowering drugs.
Even more impressive, other studies have shown that for every 7 more grams of fiber you can eat daily, you can drop your heart disease risk by 9%. If this study hold true, then eating 100 or more grams of fiber each day essentially eliminates your risk of heart disease.
It goes without saying that you can’t prevent heart disease with fiber supplements. You have to eat real food. If you are not used to eating fiber, talk to your doctor first. It may take time for your gut to get used to digesting fiber.
3. High Levels of Physical Activity
As with the Mediterranean Diet, exercise does so much more than lower cholesterol. For example, exercise moves LDL out of your arteries into your liver.
Also, like with the Mediterranean Diet, exercise changes the structure of cholesterol. Rather than the small and dense forms of LDL, which can lodge in an artery, exercise changes it to the benign big and fluffy forms.
Finally, as with the Mediterranean Diet, studies show that exercise lowers your bad cholesterol by around 10%. However, when it comes to preventing heart disease deaths, exercise beats statin drugs.
For example, in one study, Stanford University researchers compared the effects of exercise versus statins in preventing premature death. As part of this study, researchers recruited 10,043 middle-aged veterans with high cholesterol.
After following these veterans for 10 years, researchers found that the physically fit veterans with high cholesterol were 47% less likely to die prematurely. In contrast, veterans just taking statins were only 33% less likely to die prematurely.
How physically do you have to be? In order to drop your risk of dying prematurely by 47%, you had to be fit enough to sustain a 9 MET (metabolic equivalent) workout.
Exercise above the 9 MET level includes running (not jogging), aggressive swimming, a boot camp or CrossFit class at the gym, bicycling up mountains, or competitive soccer/basketball. Of course, if you are not used to exercising at this level, speak with your doctor first.