If your latest blood test report reads cholesterol level above 200 mg/dL, it’s time you think seriously about reducing cholesterol levels in your body. But why? Because cholesterol clogs your arteries and leads to heart attacks and strokes. That’s enough reason to take steps to reduce high cholesterol. How to reduce cholesterol? Simple, you’ll have to change some of your dietary habits and get your body moving not only to lose excess weight but also to remain physically active. You also need to quit smoking! It seems so simple to read all these remedies for reducing cholesterol but you and I both know that it is not that easy! But it’s not that tough too! Nothing is impossible, remember! So let’s know how you can do all this to reduce high cholesterol levels in your blood. Whatever remedies you adopt, just keep in mind that they should do one of the two things- either reduce LDL (Low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol) or increase HDL (High-density lipoprotein or good cholesterol) in your blood.
Natural Remedies to Reduce High Cholesterol
1. Move your body; Lose weight
Regular exercising can amazingly help in balancing your cholesterol level. Obese or not, everyone should exercise. If you are overweight, losing even five to ten percent of fat can help lower LDL or the bad cholesterol to a considerable level. In fact, physically active persons form more of HDL that is good cholesterol which keeps their heart healthy. It’s not that you have to necessarily hit the gym and work out for hours, even moderate exercises including a brisk walk for 30 to 40 minutes are also sufficient. In fact, you don’t even to spend these 40 minutes at one go. If you walk or exercise for 10 minutes for three to four times a day, that will also have the similar effect on your cholesterol. Walking is only one form of exercise, you can move your body by any means- swimming, playing, running, jogging, yoga, aerobics, cycling or even dancing.
2. Don’t get Tempted with Saturated and Trans Fats
Foods with saturated fats as well as trans fats are, no doubt tasty, but you have to avoid them. They are the main culprit when it comes to dietary cholesterol. These bad fats can only increase bad cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. You should not get more than 7-10% of your daily calories from saturated fats. Meat and full-fat dairy products have high concentrations of saturated fats while fried foods and commercially baked and cooked foods are high on transfats. When you buy these ready to eat food packages, you cannot even depend upon the labels that read ‘trans fats free.’ The reason, in the United States even 0.5 gm of trans fat per serving is allowed to be labelled as trans-fat-free. This means when you have these so-called trans fat free foods, you are having 0.5 gm of trans fats in every serving. Just imagine if you take several servings, how much trans fat are you going to consume! So instead of going by the label screaming ‘Trans-free fat,’ read the ingredients list. If it even reads an item called ‘partially hydrogenated oil,’ it does contain trans fats. So better avoid it.
Here is a list of foods having high levels of saturated fats and trans that you must avoid having if you really want to reduce cholesterol levels.
- Vegetable oil
- Full-fat dairy products
- Commercially baked cookies, crackers, snack cakes
In place of saturated fats, start having healthier fats – monounsaturated fats found in olive, peanut and canola oils and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
3. Opt for Healthier Monounsaturated Fats
Many studies have been conducted that say monounsaturated fats not only lower LDL cholesterol but also help in raising the levels of good HDL cholesterol in our blood. So next time when you use an oil for salad dressings or for marinating chicken and fish as well as for roasting vegetables, use the healthier olive oil rather than any vegetable oil! A study conducted by Baylor College of Medicine found out monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in olive oil can even reduce LDL cholesterol in people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome just as effective as low-fat diets! Some of the natural sources of monounsaturated fats such as Avocado may actually help in raising the good HDL cholesterol while reducing LDL due to its component beta-sitosterol- a plant-based plant which reduces the amount of cholesterol that can be absorbed from food. However, just like nuts, avocados are high in calories so you should have them in moderation. Here is the list of foods that contain heart-friendly monounsaturated fats.
- Olive oil
- Peanut oil
- Canola Oil
4. Go Even for Polyunsaturated Fats
Fat is also essential for certain bodily functions so you can’t just discard having fats. However, you can always opt for healthier ones. Just like monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats to are a good option when trying to reduce high cholesterol levels. Certain nuts have high levels of polyunsaturated fats that help in keeping our blood vessels healthy. But one thing that you must keep in mind that only a handful of nuts is what is needed during a day. More than that can lead to other problems like obesity due to high calories found in nuts. Also, avoid having salted or sugar coated nuts because they totally defeat the purpose of having good fat leading to good HDL cholesterol levels. Just have a handful of raw nuts some of which have been listed here.
- Pine nuts
- Pistachio nuts.
5. Fall in Love with Fish and its Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish has the best quality of omega-3 fatty acids known to lower LDL, the bad cholesterol. American Heart Institute recommends having at least two servings of fish in a week but you can have more of it if you like to. However, take care not to add saturated fats while cooking your heart-friendly fish. One of the studies suggests when fish oil is taken without limiting saturated fat intake, your LDL levels may not change at all, worse it may increase! Better grill or bake your fish than frying or adding butter or vegetable oil to it! If can’t have fish, you may also have fish oil supplement but consult with your doctor first. Some of the other sources of omega-3 fatty acids are soybeans, canola, flaxseeds and walnut. However, the way your heart gets to benefit from fish, it doesn’t get it any other way. Some of the fish that are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids include the following:
- Lake trout;
- Albacore tuna;
- Salmon; and
6. Eat more Fiber Rich Foods to Reduce Hight Cholesterol
Researches have proved it- fibers, specially soluble fibers reduce the levels of LDL bad cholesterol. These fibers bind with intestinal bile acids that contain cholesterol and leads them out of your body. As little as 10-15 gm of soluble fiber a day can lower your bad cholesterol by up to 10%. Dried beans, oats, barley, and foods having psyllium are great sources of soluble fibers. One of the types of fibers called pectin not only lowers high cholesterol levels but also restricts you from overeating by slowing down your digestive process. Certain fruits including apples and pears are high in pectin fibers. Interestingly, foods that are high in fibers tend to be low in saturated fats, calories and cholesterol. Just take care not to add a lot of butter to your otherwise fiber-rich whole grain bread. Some of the high fiber foods include:
- Kidney beans
- Brown rice
- Black beans
- Pinto beans
- Whole grains
7. Have Foods with Plant Sterols
There is a substance found in plants called sterols or stanols. These can block the absorption of cholesterol by your body. Thus it’s a good idea to have orange juices, margarine and yogurt drinks fortified with plant sterols. Just 2 gm of plant sterol per day can reduce LDL cholesterol by more than 10%. A glass of sterol-fortified orange juice daily is all you need to get this much amount of sterol.
8. Have a Shot of Red Wine Everyday
Now, this is a remedy you’ll love. Drink a glass of wine every day, preferably red wine. Many researches have supported the fact that moderately consumed alcohol every day can raise the levels of good HDL cholesterol. A red wine made up of high fiber red grapes, in fact, have a super beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. Red wines are rich in the plant compounds called saponins that are beneficial for cholesterol levels. However, it should be only one glass for women and two glasses for men per day. More than that can actually harm your whole system. American Heart Association though cautions against beginning to drink if you don’t drink as of now.
9. Don’t Forget the Green Drink- The Green Tea
While red (wine) is good, green too is beneficial for your cholesterol levels! So, don’t forget to include green tea in your daily beverages list. In fact, you can replace the sodas and other sugary or carbonated drinks with this healthier option. A study conducted in Brazil had found that people who consumed capsules having green tea extracts considerably reduced their total cholesterol.
10. Do Not Smoke
It’s tough but you have to! You have to quit smoking if you want to raise your good HDL cholesterol levels because smoking lowers levels of HDL cholesterol posing a great risk for heart disease. See what quitting cigarette does:
• When you quit smoking, within 20 minutes, your blood pressure decreases; check for yourself!
• The risk of your heart attack decreases within 24 hours of quitting smoking.
• Within a year, there is 50% decrease in the risk of heart disease as compared to that of a smoker.
• Within 15 years, you are on par with a person who has never smoked in his life without any risk of heart disease due to smoking.
Do you need to know more to stop smoking?
Choose your foods intelligently, exercise daily, quit smoking and drink green tea and a glass of red wine daily. That’s all you need to reduce high cholesterol!