Are you tired of relying on prescription medications to manage your cholesterol levels? Look no further! In this article, we will explore some of the best natural remedies for cholesterol that can help put your health back on track.
From simple dietary changes to herbal supplements, there are plenty of options available that can help improve your heart health without harsh side effects. Let’s get started!
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body and your blood. Your body needs some cholesterol for various functions, including:
- Building the structure of cell membranes
- Producing bile acids
- Boosts metabolism
- Promotes the production of vitamin D
- Produces key hormones, including stress hormones and sex hormones
- Provides insulation for nerve cells
While cholesterol is quite beneficial, too much of it in the blood can stick to the walls of your arteries and form plaque.
Plaque is a buildup of cholesterol, fat, and other substances that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible.
This condition is called atherosclerosis, and it can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.
The Different Types of Cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is the “bad” cholesterol because it can build up in your arteries and cause blockages. HDL is the “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL from your arteries.
Simple lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and regular exercise, can greatly help keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Causes of High Cholesterol
1. High intake of saturated fats
Too much consumption of saturated fats such as from meat and dairy is the number one cause of high cholesterol levels.
Usually, your body contains LDL receptors on the surface of various cells throughout the body, but especially in the liver.
The liver is the key organ in removing excess cholesterol from the blood and breaking it down. During circulation, LDL receptors on the surface of the liver pick up the cholesterol in the blood, which helps bring the numbers down.
However, too much intake of saturated fat has been shown to impair the functioning of these receptors, causing reduced clearance of LDL particles from the blood, thus leading to its accumulation.
Obesity has been shown to increase the amount of LDL cholesterol the liver makes while decreasing its clearance from the blood.
In fact research shows that for every 10 pounds you are overweight, your body increases your cholesterol production with an extra 10 milligrams each day.
On the other hand, a study conducted on 401 overweight and obese individuals found that losing 5-10% of their weight improved their cardiovascular risk, including reduced total cholesterol, fasting glucose, and triglyceride levels.
Too much alcohol is another common cause of high cholesterol levels. This is because when your drink alcohol, your body breaks it down in the liver but then reconstructs it into triglycerides and cholesterol. So the more you drink, the more cholesterol you’ll have.
Generally, cholesterol levels tend to increase with age. That’s why older people are more prone to cardiovascular conditions, especially when their diet is not right.
This is because as we age, the body can’t clear cholesterol from the blood as well as it used to when we were younger.
For women, 55 years or older puts you at risk of increased cholesterol, while for men, the age of 45 and above increases your risk.
5. Physical inactivity
Exercise is a natural way of keeping your cholesterol levels low. When you exercise, your body releases more HDL cholesterol, which removes LDL deposits from your arteries and back to the liver, where they are broken down.
So the more you exercise, the high your HDL and the low your LDL.
Besides lowering cholesterol, exercise can help improve other aspects of your health, including
- Boosting your energy levels
- Improving memory ad brain function
- Fighting anxiety and depression
- Aiding in weight management
- Improving the quality of sleep
- Lowering blood pressure
- Preventing numerous chronic conditions
- Strengthening bones
- Makes you happy
When you smoke, the various chemicals in cigarettes irritate your blood vessel lining, leading to inflammation and damage. To combat the damage, the body releases LDL cholesterol to help seal it off. This may seem like a good thing, but the more you smoke, the more the damage and the more the LDL deposition in your arteries. With time a plaque will form, leading to atherosclerosis or hardening of arteries, which again increases your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
7. Some medications
Research shows that certain medications such as birth control pills, anticonvulsants, retinoids, and antivirals may cause an unexpected effect on your cholesterol levels by either increasing LDL, reducing HDL, or both.
Certain high blood pressure medications like diuretics and the older versions of beta blockers can also increase your cholesterol.
If taking any of these medications, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best alternative.
If non, ensure you get your cholesterol levels checked regularly. Additionally, incorporate other healthy habits such as staying active and eating a healthy diet to minimize your risk of high cholesterol.
8. Certain chronic conditions
Generally, people with diabetes or chronic kidney disease tend to have high cholesterol levels.
Other conditions that may increase your risk include lupus, hypothyroidism, and HIV/AIDs.
How to Lower High Cholesterol
To lower your cholesterol, modifying your daily lifestyle habits is key.
This may include things like:
- Exercising on most days of the week
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding too much alcohol or avoiding it altogether
- Losing weight
- Avoiding animal products
- Eating a healthy diet
- Seeking medical help when necessary
Natural Remedies for Lowering Cholesterol
In addition to incorporating the above changes into your life, there are natural remedies for lowering cholesterol that can help you achieve your goal quickly and healthily. These may include
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is an essential nutrient that plays a role in many biochemical reactions in the body. It has also been administered as a prescription to lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL.
Research shows that niacin can increase HDL levels and decrease LDL as well as triglycerides, another type of fat that can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.
That being said, niacin supplements can cause various side effects, so unless your doctor recommends it, it’s good to stick to food sources.
Some of the best niacin-rich foods to eat include
- Fortified foods
- Brown rice
- Green peas
Ginger is a common household spice that, besides adding flavor to food, can offer numerous health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
It has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels by activating an enzyme that increases your body’s ability to use cholesterol, thus reducing it.
In one double-blind controlled clinical trial, patients with high cholesterol treated with 3 grams of ginger per day in 3 divided doses for 45 days recorded a significant reduction in LDL and triglycerides, with an increase in HDL cholesterol.
3. Soluble fiber
Fiber exists in two forms, soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble fiber (does not dissolve in water)
When it comes to lowering cholesterol, soluble fiber is one of the most effective tools in your arsenal.
This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance which works by binding to cholesterol molecules in the digestive tract and preventing them from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Also, soluble fiber binds to bile acids in the intestine, preventing them from being reabsorbed into the body.
Bile acids are made from cholesterol and are needed for the digestion of fats. When soluble fiber binds with bile acids, they are excreted from the body through the colon. This lowers cholesterol since more cholesterol will be required to produce the needed bile acids.
The best sources of food to eat include
- Kidney beans
- Sweet potatoes
- Brussels sprouts
- Black beans
4. Red yeast rice
Red yeast rice is a fermented rice product that has been used in China for centuries to lower cholesterol, improve circulation, and boost digestive health.
It is made by culturing or fermenting rice with a red mold called Monascus purpureus.
Red yeast rice contains several compounds that are known to have cholesterol-lowering properties, including monacolin K, which has the same makeup as lovastatin (Mevacor), a cholesterol-lowering medication.
One study found that taking an extract of red yeast rice could lower LDL by about 15-25% within 6-8 months. This was further followed by a decrease in the total cholesterol level.
While taking monacolin K as a supplement is a safe and effective way to lower your cholesterol levels, in 1998, the FDA classified this extract as medicine, so it cannot be sold as a supplement in the United States.
Red yeast rice supplements are, however, available, but they do not contain monacolin K. Thus, they are lacking in their cholesterol-lowering benefits.
Daily garlic use has been shown to lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health. This is because the compounds in garlic can reduce cholesterol absorption, as well as cholesterol and fat synthesis.
One study found that daily consumption of half to one clove of garlic can lower your cholesterol level by 10%.
In a review of studies on garlic, researchers determined that garlic could lower total cholesterol levels by up to 30 mg/dl.
Raw garlic has the most health benefits, so try incorporating it into your diet. You can add it to salads, stir-fries, or even eat it on its own.
If you’re not a fan of the taste of raw garlic, you can cook it lightly before eating it. This will help to mellow out the flavor and make it more palatable.
You can also use roasted garlic as a spread for bread or crackers or a topping for salads or vegetables.
And if you don’t like the taste of garlic, supplements are available and can provide the health benefits without the strong flavor.
Hawthorn fruit is considered hypolipidemic according to various studies. This is because it’s a good source of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that inhibits cholesterol absorption in the intestines.
Hawthorn has also been shown to lower cholesterol by increasing the excretion of bile, reducing cholesterol formation, and enhancing the LDL receptor functions.
A six-week lab study found that hawthorn extract reduced LDL cholesterol and fasting triglycerides.
A different study done on humans also found that when the extract was given to people with atherosclerosis, the thickness of the harmful plaque in their arteries was reduced.
Astragalus, also known as Huang qi, is a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including the ability to lower cholesterol.
Studies have shown that astragalus can help lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol in the gut and stimulating the production of bile acids, which help break down cholesterol.
Astragalus has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may help to protect against heart disease.
If you want to try astragalus for its cholesterol-lowering effects, it is important to talk to your doctor first, as it may interact with other cholesterol medications you are taking.
Phytosterols are plant-based compounds that are structurally similar to cholesterol. They can compete with cholesterol for absorption in the intestines, which can lead to a decrease in the amount of cholesterol absorbed into the bloodstream. This, in turn, can lead to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Foods rich in phytosterols include:
- Fruits: oranges, bananas, apricots, apples, pineapples
- Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, adzuki beans, mung beans
- Nuts: macadamia nuts, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds
- Seeds: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
- Olive oil
Lowering cholesterol naturally is possible with the right lifestyle changes and natural remedies.
Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption are all important steps to take to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Additionally, incorporating certain herbs and supplements like garlic, phytosterols, red yeast rice, Astragalus, and ginger into your diet can help lower bad cholesterol levels naturally.
By following these tips, you can not only reduce your risk of developing heart disease but also lead a healthier life overall.
Incorporate these 8 Best Natural Remedies for Cholesterol, along with the lifestyle changes that we discussed, resulting in a heathier you.
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