Cholesterol is an essential substance needed for proper body function but when levels get too high, cholesterol increases the risk of heart attacks. Alarmingly, more than 17% of the adult U.S. population have dangerously high cholesterol. Some medications can reduce cholesterol levels, but there are also natural ways to help achieve the same goal.
Here are five proven ways to naturally decrease cholesterol:
1- Make Fiber Your Friend
Fiber-rich foods such as oats and barley can help lower cholesterol levels. When ingested, they form a gel in the gut which fixes itself to cholesterol-rich bile acids. This pairing prevents the body from absorbing bad acids.
2- Be Choosey About Protein
Opting for leaner meats and protein-rich plant foods can decrease cholesterol in the body. Fish such as wild salmon, sardines, and bluefin tuna (Omega-3-Rich Fish Chart) are great menu items and contain omega-3 fats. Another fine option is consuming plants which contain protein, including legumes, beans, seeds or nuts.
Equally important is the decrease or removal of red meat from the diet. Red meat has an abundance of saturated fats, which have negative health impacts.
3- Make Small Changes
Ingredients added to food in preparation and presentation can affect cholesterol values. Opt out of using margarine and other processed fats in favor of olive oil in food prep.
Add some spice to a meal to help lower the levels. Garlic, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, and coriander all help while also adding some major flavor to each bite. Researchers at Penn State University discovered that adding spices to high fat and oil content dishes actually lowers absorption of these dangerous substances. So spice things up to lower triglycerides.
4- Make Lifestyle Changes
Lowering cholesterol isn’t just about watching what’s ingested and digested: One’s lifestyle can also impact cholesterol levels.
Smoking lowers the body’s “good” cholesterol while also injuring blood vessel linings and raising the risk of blood clots. The good news is that studies have shown that good cholesterol levels can rebound soon after a person stops smoking.
A good dose of laughter also helps. Laughing actually increases good cholesterol which counterbalances the bad stuff. Watching a funny movie, looking at silly cat videos online, and going to a stand-up comedy show are all forms of good medicine.
Learning to take time out and to relax can assist in keeping cholesterol in check. When you’re tense, stress hormones are issued out into the body and destroy other cells. This causes the body to respond by manufacturing large amounts of cholesterol to try to repair the damage. This, in turn, creates a glut of cholesterol in the system. After learning to use relaxation and meditation, your body will rely less on cholesterol for help.
5- Lose Weight
If a person is carrying extra pounds, losing the excess weight can help with cholesterol control. The American Society for Clinical Nutrition detailed 70 studies that have linked weight reduction to significant decreases in cholesterol.
We can’t and don’t want to eliminate cholesterol entirely from our lives and bodies — it is essential for proper body function. The key is to keep it in healthy forms and amounts.
For a person hoping to achieve and maintain this, many approaches can be tried. Medications are available but so are ample natural options for decreasing cholesterol.
Jennifer Landis is a tea-drinking, yoga loving, clean eating blogger, writer, wife, and mother. You can find more from Jennifer at her blog, Mindfulness Mama.