Key Steps to Lower High Cholesterol
What is High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat, or lipid, which helps our bodies build healthy cells. However, too much cholesterol, or high cholesterol, is dangerous as it increases your risk of heart disease as well as heart attacks. If there is too much cholesterol in your system, it will begin to build up in our bloodstreams and block our arteries, causing a heart attack or stroke.
Oftentimes, you won't even know you have high cholesterol until it’s too late, so it is recommended that you have your cholesterol levels checked regularly. Plenty of medications can reduce cholesterol, but if you would like to lower high cholesterol the natural way, these 6 easy lifestyle tips can help keep your heart safe and your body healthy.
1. Regular Exercise
Studies have shown that not only does regular physical activity raise your levels of feel-good endorphins, help you sleep better, and generally improve your quality of life, it also increases your levels of HDL (a lipoprotein, considered “good” cholesterol), which helps to carry cholesterol out of your body. Exercise also lowers levels of LDL (considered “bad” cholesterol), which is responsible for carrying extra cholesterol to the heart.
Exercise is a two-pronged attack on high cholesterol by raising the levels of HDL and simultaneously lowering LDL levels. The additional benefit exercise has on weight loss is also key, as carrying extra weight can contribute to high cholesterol.
2. Spice Up Your Diet
Spices like turmeric, ginger, and garlic possess powerful properties that help to lower high cholesterol naturally. Turmeric contains an active principle known as curcumin, which has anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory benefits, and can also increase liver enzyme production to help break down cholesterol.
A key component of garlic is a cholesterol-fighting compound known as allcin. Allcin is known for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and eating just half a clove a day may lower cholesterol by 9%.
The bioactive compound in ginger is gingerol, and is believed to help relax blood vessels, lower inflammation, and stimulate blood flow, all which help lower high cholesterol.
All these beneficial spices can be found in their natural forms, as supplements, and as teas and tinctures. Find the way that best works for you!
3. Reduce Toxicity
There is no escaping the fact that many things in the world are toxic to our bodies.
Air, food, water, and everyday substances can contain toxins that are harmful to your body, particularly if you are trying to lower high cholesterol. If you smoke cigarettes, stop now to significantly lower your risk of heart attack. Smoking can increase the levels of blood clotting and raise blood pressure, increasing the chances of heart disease and stroke.
Trans-fat is another toxic danger to your cholesterol, as it lowers your good (HDL) cholesterol levels and raises your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. Trans-fat is formed by the addition of hydrogen to oil (hydrogenated oil), which increases the shelf-life of products. Most store-bought baked goods, snacks, and fried foods all contain trans-fat.
It is recommended that you avoid processed food products and commercial baked goods in general. This is not only because of the high amounts of trans-fats that they contain, but also because of the high quantities of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Both refined carbs and sugar are quickly converted to glucose in your body, and the spike in blood sugar levels will increase the amount of triglycerides (another bad type of fat in the blood) and bad LDL cholesterol, which in turn, negatively affect cholesterol.
This doesn't mean all treats are bad for you. There are plenty of unprocessed heart-healthy foods like nuts, popcorn, baked potato chips, and fruit which are delicious and also work to naturally lower high cholesterol.
4. Fiber is King
Fiber improves intestinal health, prevents heart disease, regulates blood sugar, and absorbs cholesterol in the digestive tract. Fiber is found exclusively in plant foods, and especially in dark green, leafy vegetables. Collard greens, spinach, chard, arugula, lettuce, and kale are all good examples of high-fiber greens that offer an assortment of heart-protecting minerals, vitamins and phyto-nutrients.
Soluble fiber is also found in oatmeal, lentils, beans, fruit, flax seeds, and nuts. These items will slow digestion and make you feel full, which keeps your blood sugar at a steady level.
5. Sweet, Sweet Sleep
Consistent, inadequate sleep can lead to a host of medical ailments including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stress, and weight gain. Too little sleep (under 6 hours) and too much sleep (over 9 hours) have shown to be related to higher cholesterol levels. You want to aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.
In order to get quality sleep every night, you shouldn’t fall asleep watching television and you should refrain from using any electronics at least an hour before bed. Be sure that your bed is comfortable and your bedroom is a dark, cool and quiet refuge, where your body and brain can actually rest and recharge.
6. Take Omega-3 and Coenzyme Q10 Supplements
are essential nutrients that play a vital role in our immune systems. Omega-3s (especially EPA and DHA) regulate inflammation, improve blood flow, decrease clumping of blood cells, and keep the tissues of the heart and blood vessels flexible. All of these factors help to lower high cholesterol and reduce the chance of heart attack. You can easily find Omega-3 supplements in any health food store. Omega-3 fatty acids
(CoQ10) is an antioxidant that supports the health of heart cells and also helps to build and repair tissue. CoQ10 is found in some foods like organ meats and fish, but one would have to consume a large amount to reap the benefits. Using enzyme supplements is the most reliable way to get consistent deliveries into your body at a meaningful dosage level. Coenzyme Q10
Use Your Knowledge
Control over high cholesterol is possible. Implementing these 6 habits will help you gain on a grip on your health, naturally. Start simply by adding more fiber and Omega3 supplements to your diet. Focus on getting to bed at the same time every night, then slowly add exercise (a 10-minute walk every day) to your daily routine. Soon you, and your heart, will feel happy and healthy from the inside out.