Many things contribute to elevated cholesterol. Diet and lifestyle, as well as heredity, can contribute to seeing our cholesterol levels rise. So what can be done to lower cholesterol levels naturally? Some people find that making simple dietary changes as well as using certain supplements helps them maintain healthy cholesterol levels. It’s important to check with your doctor before incorporating these changes.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO PROMOTE HEALTHY CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
1. Eat Fiber
Study after study shows fiber helps keep cholesterol levels in check. Specifically, soluble fiber works like a sponge in the intestines to soak up excess cholesterol and fats. Studies suggest aiming for 25-30 grams of fiber per day to help keep cholesterol levels in a healthy range and lower cholesterol naturally.
2. Try a Plant-Based Diet
A plant-based diet is a vegetarian or vegan diet eliminating meat, fish, and most of the time eggs and dairy. In a 2017 meta-study, researchers reviewed 49 studies that compared plant-based diets with omnivore diets and found that people consuming plant-based diets had 15 to 30% lower cholesterol than those who ate an omnivore diet. If making a switch to a vegetarian diet seems too extreme, try gradually incorporating more plant-based meals into your week.
3. Eat Fish
If a plant-based diet doesn’t work for you, try including more fish in your diet. It contains Omega-3 which studies show can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Adding oily fish such as salmon, tuna herring, mackerel, and sardines two to three times a week can help bring those numbers in line. One study showed that consuming daily omega-3 from fish oil leads to a reduction in total cholesterol of 25 to30% and helps lower cholesterol naturally.
4. Exercise More
We all know exercise is good for us but aiming to get exercise most days of the week can have a healthy impact on cholesterol levels. Studies show that 30 minutes 5 days a week of a combination of both cardio and resistance training can improve cholesterol levels by reducing LDL and increasing HDL. Increasing physical activity by doing simple things like opting to take the stairs or parking in the farthest spot in the parking lot can also have a positive impact on HDL or good cholesterol.
5. Eat Garlic
Garlic has been used for centuries for all kinds of health issues. One reason, people eat garlic is for its heart-healthy benefits. One review of studies in 2016 showed that consuming garlic has the potential to reduce cholesterol by up to 30 mg per deciliter. Garlic has other cardiovascular benefits as well such as its positive effect on blood pressure too.
SUPPLEMENTS TO LOWER CHOLESTEROL LEVELS NATURALLY
6. Fish Oil
The main benefits of Fish oil supplements on cholesterol are their ability to lower triglycerides and raise HDL or good cholesterol. One study showed a reduction in triglycerides at therapeutic doses of 2-4 grams of 25-45%. Having continuously high triglycerides can lead to several health conditions and put patients at risk for arteriosclerosis. Another benefit of fish oil is its healthy impact on raising HDL or good cholesterol.
7. Red Yeast Rice
Red Yeast Rice or Monascus purpureus is a yeast grown on white rice. It contains a compound called monacolin K which is a natural statin. The prescription medication Lovastatin contains a similar active ingredient. Several studies have shown Red Yeast Rice to lower LDL levels by 22 to 26%. Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting this supplement as it does contain a natural statin.
8. Plant Sterols
Plant Sterols and a substance made by plants that resemble cholesterol. They are thought to help reduce cholesterol levels by limiting the amount of cholesterol absorbed by the body. Several studies have show plant sterols reduce cholesterol from 3% to 15% if also following a low cholesterol diet. Plant sterols also have other heart-healthy benefits as well.
Niacin is a B vitamin that studies show lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides as well as helps raise HDL cholesterol. It works by blocking the way the liver makes cholesterol. Niacin also helps to open capillaries. When the capillaries in the skin are opened it can cause a flush from the increased blood flow to the skin’s surface. This can be a bit unpleasant feeling and for that reason, some people prefer to use flush-free niacin, which is niacin bound to another B vitamin, Inositol.
CoQ10 is an antioxidant that is produced by the body naturally. Your body uses it for cellular growth and energy. It may help reduce LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol in people who are following a low cholesterol diet. Recent studies show that it also improves HDL or good cholesterol. CoQ10 can also be helpful in reducing muscle pain and weakness in people who are taking statin therapies to reduce cholesterol. Since Red Yeast Rice is a natural statin taking CoQ10 with it can also be beneficial.
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