What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is an essential element produced in our bodies. The fat-like substance produced in the liver plays a critical role in several vital functions. It is critical for building the cell membrane, producing sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, bile acids, and vitamin D. While it is naturally produced in the human body, unhealthy lifestyle choices, and certain medications can lead to higher blood cholesterol levels.
Blood cholesterol can be divided as
- LDL – Low-Density Lipoprotein, also referred to as bad cholesterol,
- HDL – High-Density Lipoprotein, also called good cholesterol
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, an adult’s total blood cholesterol level (LDL and HDL combined) should remain below 200 mg/deciliter.
Why is Higher Cholesterol a Concern?
When blood cholesterol level is high, the condition does not cause any physical symptoms. However, it can significantly increase the risk of cardiac problems. High levels of blood cholesterol, particularly LDL, result in the accumulation of fatty deposits on the walls of arteries, increasing the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiac diseases.
When a person has higher blood cholesterol levels, the doctor may prescribe medication to reduce blood cholesterol; however, lifestyle management is often the first recommendation. By changing your dietary habits and lifestyle, you can naturally lower your cholesterol. Let’s look at five natural ways to reduce cholesterol so you can have a healthy heart.
Avoid Trans Fats
Trans fats are a type of unsaturated fats, which come in both natural and artificial forms. Naturally, trans fats can be found in meat and dairy of animals such as cattle and sheep; however, naturally found trans fats do not harm cardiac health when consumed in moderation. However, artificial trans fats that are industrially hydrogenated can have profound health implications. As a result of hydrogenation, vegetable oils are chemically modified to stay as solid even at room temperature.
Some of the foods that are rich in trans fats include
- Deep-fried food such as French fries, fried chicken, and doughnuts
- Confectionary items including cakes, pies, and cookies
- Nondairy coffee creamer
Artificial trans fats are particularly dangerous because they can significantly increase LDL without affecting the HDL. As a result, you experience both an increase in total cholesterol and an increase in LDL, two conditions that can multiply the risk of heart diseases.
When managing your eating habits to reduce your cholesterol naturally, perhaps the first and most important consideration is to eliminate trans fats from your diet.
Focus on Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fats
And when we say avoid trans fats, this does not mean you are not allowed to consume fats at all. As mentioned earlier, cholesterol is essential for several vital functions in the body, and you need fat to perform those essential functions. So you can meet your body’s fats requirement by focusing more on unsaturated fats such as polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats can naturally reduce your LDL without changing your HDL. As a result, you are likely to reduce total blood cholesterol when you focus more on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Dietary sources of unsaturated fats include
- Fatty fish including tuna, salmon, and trout
- Vegetable oils such as soybean, corn, sunflower, and olive oils
Add More Soluble Fiber
It might come as a surprise that famous fiber can play an essential role in naturally reducing cholesterol. Fiber is known for promoting digestive health but also lowers LDL. However, consuming fiber does not affect HDL. Some of the foods that are rich in soluble fiber include
- Legumes and beans
- Whole grains
When adding fiber to your diet to naturally reduce cholesterol, it is best to increase intake gradually. Consuming too much fiber can lead to gastric troubles, including stomach pain and constipation.
Who can deny the significance of physical activity when it comes to healthy living. Physical activity is associated with several health benefits, but it is mainly a win-win situation for your cardiac health. It is an effective natural way to combat LDL cholesterol. Moreover, it increases the level of beneficial HDL. Furthermore, with regular exercise, you can improve your general fitness, muscular strength, and keep your weight in check; all of which contribute towards better cardiac health.
Moderate workouts such as walking, cycling, and resistance training are effective ways to reduce cholesterol naturally. However, if high cholesterol is a concern, and you are planning to start a workout regime, it is best to consult your healthcare provider before you get started.
Cholesterol is naturally produced in the human body. However, certain factors can trigger cholesterol production in the body, with stress being one of the most critical ones. Chronic stress can increase LDL cholesterol. At the same time, it can decrease your HDL cholesterol. Together, the combination means disturbed lipids.
Stress also has an indirect impact on blood cholesterol levels. Higher levels of stress can affect your thought process and dietary habits, which increases your craving for unhealthy foods. As a result, blood cholesterol levels rise.
So managing stress is another natural way to reduce your blood cholesterol. Yoga, meditation, exercise, a restful night’s sleep, and a healthy diet are some of the ways of managing stress, which in turn can reduce your cholesterol.
Cholesterol is an essential element that plays a critical role in the human body. But too much of it can be a cause of concern. A higher cholesterol level can significantly increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiac conditions. If you are worried about a more elevated level of blood cholesterol, you can try several ways to naturally reduce blood cholesterol and enjoy a fulfilling life with a healthy heart.