Fast and Natural Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

Having a high cholesterol level in your blood increases the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance made in the liver and found in the blood and in all cells of the body. Molecules of cholesterol are found circulating in the blood and all cells of the body. 

When cholesterol is gotten from foods like meat and fat-rich dairy products of animals, it is called dietary cholesterol. It is only present in foods derived from animals.

Since the liver produces the amount of cholesterol the body needs, there is no need for a person to consume cholesterol in their diet. Experts recommend consuming little or no dietary cholesterol.

Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

Cholesterol is not bad as it plays an important role in making hormones, cell walls, tissues, vitamin D, and even bile acid. 

How to measure blood cholesterol levels

A doctor will assess these four markers when measuring cholesterol levels, in a person’s blood:

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is often referred to as  “good” cholesterol. It absorbs excess cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower the risk of stroke or heart disease.  However, low HDL cholesterol may be a risk factor for other issues.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol

LDL is called the  “bad” cholesterol. It makes up a higher percentage of cholesterol in the body. A low LDL number may indicate good health and a lower risk of disease. High levels of LDL cholesterol, on the other hand, raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Total cholesterol

This is the total number of blood triglycerides and LDL and HDL cholesterol.

Blood triglycerides

This is a common type of fat in the blood. High levels of blood triglycerides may mean that a person has an increased risk of health issues, especially in cases of low HDL cholesterol.

Doctors will use all of these numbers within the context of a person’s overall health and other risk factors to determine their risk of heart disease and stroke.

Why lower cholesterol levels?

High levels of blood cholesterol increase the risks of serious health challenges. 

The heart is overworked because more cholesterol circulates in the blood, making it harder for the heart to pump this blood properly. This excess cholesterol contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries, causing atherosclerosis. (Atherosclerosis is a condition where the arteries become narrow and hard due to a buildup of plaque around the artery wall limit.)

High cholesterol puts a person at risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. 

A combination of these recommendations below will help lower blood cholesterol level

  • Lifestyle factors
  • Dietary changes
  • Medications

Dietary changes

Changing your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health. Cholesterol has a lot to do with what a person eats. This is why doctors recommend a healthy diet as the first step to lower cholesterol quickly.

The following dietary changes may help a person reduce their cholesterol as quickly as possible.

Reduce saturated fats 

Regular intake of large amounts of saturated fat raises levels of Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol— the “bad” cholesterol. Recommended intake is 5–6% daily. 

Sources of saturated fat include red meat and full-fat dairy products, such as milk cheese, and butter. Also, poorly refined vegetable oils, palm, and coconut oil are major sources of saturated fat.

Eat more plant foods

The only source of dietary cholesterol is animal foods. Therefore a  diet aimed at lowering cholesterol should have a wide variety of plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and seeds. This variety of plant foods ensures the body gets the various nutrients and vitamins it needs to operate properly.

Plant foods are free of cholesterol, so they will not contribute to cholesterol levels in the body.

In addition, plant foods have been proven to contain nutrients that reduce other risk factors for heart disease, such as antioxidants and some types of fiber.

Take Fiber-rich foods

Fiber plays an important role in digestive health, which may also affect other risk factors, such as high cholesterol. Eating more plant foods will naturally increase fiber intake as plants are the only source of fiber in the diet.

Studies show that a diet high in fiber alone can help lower cholesterol levels by as much as 10%. Fiber-rich foods include oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples, and pears.

Consider taking fiber supplements to help you get extra fiber.

Eliminate trans fats

Trans fats lower the levels of HDL cholesterol and raise the levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Trans fats are labelled as  “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,” and are often used in cakes, margarine and store-bought cookies,  fried foods from fast-food restaurants, and crackers although they are naturally occurring in milk and meat products.

Increase plant protein sources

Most dietary proteins are from animals. However, it may help for them to include plant protein sources in your diet too.

Some vegetable foods that contain substantial amounts of protein include legumes(chickpeas, lentils, and peas), grains, tree nuts(almonds and cashews), seeds( pumpkin, sunflower), and hemp seeds.

Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids 

Omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect LDL cholesterol. They have other heart-healthy benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Foods like salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts, and flaxseeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Eat less refined food

Refined and packaged foods contain ingredients like preservatives that make them shelf-stable and give a desirable flavor. It is, therefore, best to avoid refined food as much as possible. They contain ingredients made of refined grains, added trans and saturated fats, and added sugars.

Medications

Doctors also prescribe medications which is an important tool for people with extremely high cholesterol levels and may be at risk of an event such as heart failure, heart attack, or stroke.

Statins are the standard medication for most people. Statin drugs reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke from high cholesterol.

Depending on a person’s individual risk factors, doctors may recommend other drugs, such as:

  • selective cholesterol absorption inhibitors
  • PCSK9 inhibitors
  • drugs to lower blood fats
  • resins

For effective results take medication, make dietary and lifestyle changes to lower cholesterol.

Lifestyle factors  

Several lifestyle factors can affect a person’s cholesterol levels. Some people may find that making certain changes to their lifestyle helps lower their cholesterol. Medications can help improve your cholesterol. But if you’d rather first make lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol, try these five healthy changes.

Exercise

Moderate aerobic exercise weekly helps to reduce cholesterol and other risk factors. It also plays a key role in cardiovascular health and healthful cholesterol levels.

Adding physical activity, even in short intervals several times a day, can help you begin to lose weight. 

Consider finding an exercise buddy or joining an exercise group, to do a 30-minute activity that gets the heart rate up on 5 days of the week. These activities may include:

  • brisk walking
  • swimming
  • bicycling
  • jogging
  • movement and dance classes

Quit Smoking

Smoking affects many aspects of good health. Smoking decreases the levels of beneficial cholesterol in the body.

A study revealed that people who quit smoking had a rapid increase in their HDL cholesterol level.  This is an important sign of overall cholesterol health.

The benefits occur quickly:

  • Within 20 minutes of quitting, blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike
  • Three months after quitting, blood circulation 8uand lung function begin to improve
  • Within 1  year of quitting, risks of heart disease is half that of a smoker

Reduce alcohol intake

Reducing the use of alcohol has several health benefits. Although studies have shown that moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol this is however not beneficial to anyone who doesn’t already drink.

Too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including liver problems, high blood pressure, heart failure, and strokes.

Lose Bodyweight

Health factors like obesity mean a dangerous level of blood cholesterol and increases disease risk factors. Maintaining a healthy weight may help you lower your levels of LDL cholesterol and raise your levels of HDL cholesterol.

The American Heart Association notes that a weight loss of 10% of a person’s total weight can help improve their cholesterol numbers.

Avoid soda drinks and sugary beverages instead switch to ordinary water. Drinking water regularly has been shown to be helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. Keep track of the calories, take sweets with no fat contents like jellybeans.

Try increasing your daily activity such as using the stairs and walking around often. 

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