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How To Lower LDL Cholesterol And Triglycerides Without Drugs

Updated on August 14, 2017
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David is an army-trained biomedical scientific officer, writer, and lifelong health and fitness enthusiast.

Lower your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
Lower your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides | Source

Lower Your LDL Cholesterol And Triglycerides

High blood LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels are the main risk factors associated with heart disease, which is still the most common cause of death in Britain and the USA. But you don’t need to resort to dangerous drugs to lower your levels; in fact some simple diet and lifestyle changes can do the job even more effectively. So in this hub I’ll outline how to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides without drugs, and so reduce your risk of heart disease dramatically.

What Are LDL, HDL And Triglycerides?

LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is the ‘bad’ cholesterol that is associated with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and triglycerides are derived from excess calories that are not used up for energy – particularly from sugar and refined carbohydrates. And in fact high triglycerides are an even greater risk factor for heart disease than high LDL cholesterol is.

HDL (high density lipoprotein) is the ‘good’ cholesterol that transports excess cholesterol to the liver where it is excreted in the bile. So ideally you want to keep your LDL and triglycerides fairly low, and your HDL high.

Actually there are two main types of LDL cholesterol too. There is the small dense LDL which is the one that does the damage; and there is also the large fluffy LDL which is fairly benign. So if you have a relatively low LDL level, and most of what you have is the large fluffy type, you will have a particularly low risk of heart disease.

Most adults in the western world have raised LDL and triglycerides; and most people who die from a heart attack have particularly raised levels. And chances are if you need to lower one you will need to lower the other as well. Fortunately however, what works for one will usually work for the other – with a few minor differences.

The orthodox treatment for raised LDL and triglycerides is to take cholesterol lowering drugs such as statins. And whilst these are effective at lowering levels of both, they can also have some very unpleasant side effects, which may include severe liver damage.

So to lower your LDL cholesterol and triglycerides without drugs simply do the following…

Eat A Sensible Diet

It's important to minimize your consumption of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates as these tend to be quickly converted into triglycerides for storage as fat on your body.

You should also completely avoid trans fats, as these raise LDL levels, whilst lowering HDL. They also weaken cell membranes and cause damage to your body in other ways too. Many margarine's and most processed foods contain trans fats, and whenever you see the words ‘shortening’, ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’ or ‘hydrogenated vegetable oil’, on a food label you know you are getting trans fats in that product.

Saturated fats however have got too much of a bad reputation and can in fact be healthy and beneficial in moderate amounts. But they do tend to increase cholesterol levels, so you don’t want to be consuming too much if your levels are already high.

So eat a healthy balanced diet consisting of lean protein (meat, fish and eggs), complex carbohydrates (whole grain products, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc.), plenty of vegetables, some fruit and good fats from such foods as oily fish, nuts and avocados.

Oats are particularly beneficial for lowering cholesterol as they contain a soluble fiber called beta glucan which blocks the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines.

Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps to lower LDL and triglycerides and it also raises HDL.

Aerobic exercise gives a small but useful benefit. But higher intensity anaerobic exercise works much better. For best results try to get about half an hour of exercise five days per week, with at least two of these sessions being some form of high intensity training (such as high intensity interval training).

Lose Weight

Most overweight people have raised LDL and triglycerides, and reducing your weight can make a big difference to your levels of both.

Adopting the measures mentioned above will help with weight loss, but for effective and sustained long term weight reduction you need to ensure you eat at a calorie deficit long enough to achieve your ideal weight - and then maintain it.

Take Some Proven Supplements

Plant sterols, found in fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains, help to keep cholesterol levels under control, but most people don’t get anywhere near enough of them in their diet to have any effect. Therefore supplementing with 300mg beta sitosterol per day can help lower LDL; and this will also have a positive effect on liver function too. If your problem is more serious take 600mg per day for 6 - 12 months, and then reduce it to 300mg.

A good multivitamin is also highly recommended, and minerals in particular are very important, as are beta carotene, niacin, vitamin C and vitamin E.

Omega 3 essential fatty acids help to lower triglycerides as well as increasing HDL. They also reduce vascular inflammation which is a trigger for atherosclerosis.

Red yeast rice extract contains a substance called monacolin K which is known to inhibit the synthesis of cholesterol in the body.

And finally co-enzyme Q10 helps to prevent the oxidation of LDL, as well as helping to lower blood pressure.

Don't Smoke, And Only Use Alcohol In Moderation

Smoking is highly inflammatory and causes inflammation of the blood vessels. It also raises LDL and triglycerides, and lowers HDL.

Alcohol is fine in moderation as it can raise HDL and lower LDL slightly, but it does increase triglycerides so should not be used in excess.

So now you know how to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. And although it is true that some people have high levels due to genetic factors, even in these cases they can be substantially reduced with the right diet and lifestyle. And for everyone else, if you follow the recommendations outlined here you should soon have your levels back down to normal again.

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