Many studies have shown the close connection between high cholesterol levels and major health problems. Achieving and maintaining low cholesterol level is crucial when you want to avoid heart problems.
The ways to reduce cholesterol are quite limited. Healthy diet, regular exercise, and statin drugs seem to be your sure way to break the HDL/LDL code. However, many people tend to look elsewhere for more natural ways and they tend to do so to supplement their existing medications.
Unlike the traditional ways to lower cholesterol the natural route has too many options. It is true that no one option has proved to have a substantial effect, you might get 5% or 10% reduction here and there, but combining a few of these ways will boost your chances of developing a healthy heart.
I will list for you here seventeen ways to reduce cholesterol. If you are on medication some of these methods might interfere with what your doctor has prescribed, please consult your doctor before including it in your diet.
The liver uses saturated fats to produce more cholesterol, mostly LDL cholesterol. Saturated fats can be found in animal products such as meat and dairy products.
More consumption of soy products leads to less consumption of saturated fats since soy is considered as a meat replacement. Also soy milk can replace dairy milk.
Doctors at Harvard Medical School recommend eating 10 ounces of tofu or two and a half cups of soy milk a day to reduce cholesterol levels by 5 or 6%.
Pectin is found in the white layer that is just underneath the orange pulp. The way pectin works is that it binds with cholesterol before getting absorbed. This binding will lower the absorption of cholesterol in the blood. Pectin is found also in apples, which taste much better. Also it can be found at drugstores in the form of supplements.
3. Indian Gooseberry
Vitamin C is considered an antioxidant. LDL cholesterol is oxidized in the blood stream. This oxidization process forms the plaque that lines inside your arteries. By consuming an ample amount of antioxidants you can prevent this oxidization process and you can prevent this buildup in your arteries. If you cannot find Indian Gooseberry in a store nearby you can have it as a supplement called Amla.
4. Licorice Root
While how it works is not proved yet but there is a common believe that licorice roots can lower LDL levels and prevent plaque buildup in your arteries.
You can have licorice root as a supplement but be careful since it interacts with some medications such as insulin and laxatives, so it is important to check with your doctor if you want to incorporate this in your diet.
Besides keeping your bowels empty, laxatives has added benefits in the form of preventing cholesterol buildup.
The soluble fiber that is found in the powder will partially solidify. As this substance pass through your intestines it will carry cholesterol particles with it preventing its absorption in the bloodstream.
Laxatives work on the cholesterol that is found in the food that you consume and not on the cholesterol that is found is produced by your body. For this reason it is advised to take laxatives before consuming a heavy meal.
6. Onion Extract
A recent study by the Endocrine Society showed that onion extract reduced the level of cholesterol in rats. What is important to note that the results are done so far only on rats and no proof for its efficiency on cholesterol levels on humans.
7. Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice contains a compound known as monacolin K. This compound is the same that is found in statin drugs and the way it works is that it prohibits the liver from producing LDL (the bad cholesterol). When there is no ample supply of LDL the liver removes the cholesterol from the blood.
We are talking here about plant cholesterol, known as phytosterols. This type of cholesterol binds with the cholesterol that comes from the food that you consume, just like what soluble fiber does. This way the cholesterol is metabolized by your body and it is not absorbed in the blood stream.
In order to be effective phytosterols should be taken with food naturally by consuming fatty fruits or vegetables, or as a supplement.
A Japanese study has shown that those who get too little sleep (less than 5 hours) or too much sleep (more than 8 hours) tend to have higher levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol. These periods are considered not normal and it is believed that it interrupts the way cholesterol is metabolized by our bodies.
Another benefit of getting enough sleep is that you will have more energy to perform healthy physical tasks, which will benefit your cholesterol levels.
Bergamot has been on the market for cholesterol lowering natural resources. While it is from the citrus family, vitamin C or pectin is not what makes bergamot so popular. What makes it effective is the presence of five flavonoids. Those flavonoids inhibit the LDL cholesterol build up inside the arteries.
Kidney, pinto, navy, butter, or black beans, you name it. Any kind of beans contain a considerable amount of soluble fiber. The way that soluble fiber acts is that it forms a form of gel which binds with cholesterol and thus avoids it absorption in the blood stream.
Consuming one cup of beans a day can reduce the cholesterol levels by 10% within a six weeks period.
When you search for natural ways to reduce cholesterol avocado pops up at every list. This fruit is rich in monosaturated fat, the good kind of fat. Also it contains more beta-sitosterol than any other plant. Beta-sitosterol is a beneficial ingredient in limiting the absorption of cholesterol that is consumed from food.
Salmon is one of the best healthy protein sources. Rich in Omeg-3 fatty acids, salmon and other cold water fish help in reducing LDL cholesterol and increasing the HDL cholesterol levels.
The American Heart Association recommends that you consume at least two servings of fatty fish a week for a healthy heart. Consuming this amount will increase your HDL by 4%.
Starting your day with a healthy meal is one of your best bets to combat cholesterol. Including two servings of oats can lower your LDL level by as much as 5% in a months and a half.
Oats contain beta-glucan, an ingredient that absorbs LDL which is later on dispelled outside your body.
A research done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that consuming one and a half ounces of whole walnuts will decrease your LDL level by as much as 9% in a six weeks period, it also suggests a 5% drop in your total cholesterol for the same period of time. Other options are almonds and cashews.
But you should be careful here that nuts a rich in calories. Try to stick to the recommended portion to avoid any unwanted weight gain.
This sweet treat can be beneficial to your heart. Powerful antioxidants that are found in chocolate can raise your HDL levels. When considering this nutrient you should go for dark chocolate or bittersweet option since it contains more antioxidants.
The antioxidants found in dark chocolate prevents the stickiness of blood platelets which prevents your arteries from getting clogged.
Studies have shown that people who consumed cocoa powder increased their HDL level by 24% in a three months period.
17. Olive Oil
Olive oil is another nutrient that is full with monosaturated fatty acids, known for its unique ability to lower LDL levels in the blood. Added bonus for using olive oil is that it helps in shedding off your belly fat.