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Fighting Cholesterol Without The Meds - Naturally Lowering The LDL And Raising The HDL

Updated on August 5, 2013
Healthy cholesterol Salmon.
Healthy cholesterol Salmon. | Source

Fighting high LDL and/or low HDL cholesterol can definitely seem like an uphill battle. There are many medications doctors can prescribe to help correct this condition, though it's usually better to look for healthy alternatives, such as a balanced diet and exercise, to keep your levels in check.

The trick is to find the foods that will maintain proper LDL and HDL levels, while still appealing to your taste buds. In the end it doesn't matter how beneficial your new diet may be to your health, if you're not enjoying the meals then you are more than likely not going to stick to the program.This is not, in any way, going to be a replacement for the prescriptions that you are currently taking, but it can certainly help to get your LDL and HDL levels stable enough, that you may not need to be on medications for this condition permanently.

What is LDL?

LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein and is only one of the five major lipoprotein groups. The group consists of LDL, HDL,VLDL,IDL and chylomicrons. Lipoproteins allow lipids such as triglycerides and cholesterol to be transported into the blood stream and from there to tissue.

LDL is the "bad cholesterol" a high level of these in the blood stream is often thought to be the cause, in part, to several conditions such as heart disease and atherosclerosis. When LDL levels are high they begin to accumulate plaque within the arteries.

What is HDL

HDL stands for high-density lipoproteins and are often called "the good cholesterol". In the case of HDL, high levels in the blood are a good thing as they tend to lower cholesterol related health risks. Keeping HDL levels high are thought to be just as important as keeping your LDL levels low for the prevention of heart disease and other cholesterol related health risks.

Fresh cut fruits and vegetables
Fresh cut fruits and vegetables | Source

Great foods to lower the LDL

Fiber

When it comes to lowering LDL cholesterol, fiber is definitely a great start. Fruits and vegetables are great sources of the dietary fiber used for lowering the "bad cholesterol". Soluble fiber is exceptionally good for this purpose. A few examples of soluble fiber include oats, barley and dried beans. Soluble fiber will act as a sponge and absorb the cholesterol within the digestive track. Fiber is also a great source of heart healthy antioxidants.

Fish

Fish is another great food for lowering LDL cholesterol. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which have an extreme effect in lowering both cholesterol and triglycerides. Salmon contains a large amount of omega-3, but even a can of tuna contains omega-3 when you're looking for a more cost effective alternative. Fish is highly recommended by the American Heart Association as the number one source for omega-3 intake.

Omega-3 plants

Though fish are the best source for omega-3, there are some vegetation that can provide the body with these as well. Soybeans, canola, walnuts, flax seeds and the oils contained within any of these are also beneficial for receiving omega-3 acids. Just don't expect the same results from these sources as you would get from consuming fish, as they don't provide anywhere near the same amount of these helpful acids.

Green Tea

Green tea is also known to lower LDL levels and tastes good too. Sodas and other sugar based drinks have nothing healthy to contribute to your body, so why not give green tea a try.


Raising the HDL through your diet

Low HDL levels are thought to increase the risk of coronary heart disease in individuals who are otherwise thought to be healthy. For this reason it is very important that your body keeps a higher level of HDL cholesterol.

Eggs

Once thought to be a hazard for maintaining proper cholesterol levels, eggs are now known to be a great source of necessary HDL cholesterol. Scientists have found that by just adding one egg to your daily diet you can greatly increase your HDL levels.

Soy Products

Along with lowering LDL levels, soy is also known to raise HDL cholesterol. By replacing animal based products with soy products you are lowering your saturated fat intake and raising your bodies fiber intake.

Assorted Berries

Berries are a delicious way to increase your HDL levels and with so many to choose from it's unlikely that you will get burnt out on the flavor anytime soon. Some wonderful HDL raising berries include black currants, strawberries, raspberries and bilberries.

Drinks

Drinking a glass of orange juice every day can increase your HDL intake by about 7%, not to mention all of the other great benefits of OJ. Delicious and nutritious.

Moderately consumed alcohol is another proven method for increasing HDL levels. The keyword is moderate, alcohol consumed in abundance has far to many negative side effects to ever be considered beneficial.

Cocoa is a tasty way to raise HDL cholesterol as well, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder a day, or 1 glass of hot cocoa drink, is known to considerably raise your HDL level.

Cranberry juice is another great tasting drink, known for raising HDL levels as much as 8% by drinking just one 8oz. glass.

Are you currently

Are you currently taking medication to treat high cholesterol?

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By quitting this habit you can help to save yourself from lung cancer, emphysema, and many other life threatening illnesses and at the same time boost your HDL levels.
By quitting this habit you can help to save yourself from lung cancer, emphysema, and many other life threatening illnesses and at the same time boost your HDL levels. | Source

Other contributing factors to successfully maintaining proper cholesterol levels

There are many ways to help control your cholesterol levels, other than just your diet. To successfully achieve the desired levels of both harmful and beneficial cholesterol it is important to factor in these other tips as well.

Quit Smoking

If you are a smoker, then stop. There's no reason for me to list all the excellent reasons for you to give up smoking, as I'm sure that you have already heard most of them. Go ahead and add cholesterol levels to that list, quitting smoking is a proven method for raising HDL levels.

Exercise

A decent cardio workout will do wonders for your HDL levels. Just 30 minutes a day, of moderate to intense exercise, will greatly increase your HDL levels. It's also a great way to help lose weight, which brings me to my next suggestion.

Weight loss

Healthy weight loss, through proper dieting and exercise, is one of the best things you can do for both your body and mind. By losing excess weight you will not only raise HDL levels but decrease many unrelated health risks at the same time. Keeping a trim and fit body can also do wonders for your self esteem, libido and confidence.

Berries, such as these strawberries, are an excellent way to maintain high HDL cholesterol levels.
Berries, such as these strawberries, are an excellent way to maintain high HDL cholesterol levels. | Source

Final Thought

As I mentioned earlier, these tips are in no way a replacement to any medications you may already be taking but following these guidelines will increase your chances of never being put on cholesterol medication to begin with. If you are already taking doctor prescribed cholesterol medication then these tips will certainly help you to gain control of the problem, which will in turn improve your chances of being taken off of the expensive medication sooner than you think.

DS Duby

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    • DS Duby profile image
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      DS Duby 4 years ago from United States, Illinois

      Thank you Heaneyl.

    • heaneyl profile image

      heaneyl 4 years ago

      Extremely helpful article, thank you.

    • DS Duby profile image
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      DS Duby 5 years ago from United States, Illinois

      Thank you very much YogaKat, I found a lot of my info in cholesterol pamphlets, various medical websites and a few books I had purchased a while back but most of the fine detail came from my physician. He's one of the good ones who prefer not to prescribe meds whenever possible. He also gave me the info on the egg a day. Thank you for reading and commenting its much appreciated.

    • YogaKat profile image

      YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      Well written and thorough hub on preventing heart disease. Awesome images. This is a subject I know well - so I was pleasantly surprised by the information on eggs. Where did you find/learn the tidbit on eating one a day? I would love to hear about any research study. Voted up, useful interesting and awesome.

    • DS Duby profile image
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      DS Duby 5 years ago from United States, Illinois

      Thank you Garifalia for your kind words, as I've gotten older I've found it necessary to start being careful about the foods I eat. I've definitely noticed a difference in my health and stina since changing my diet. Thank you again for reading and commenting.

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      Garifalia 5 years ago

      Bravo! Inforamtive, easy to read and extremely helpful. I'm at that age where everything has started to go up (except my income) and it's necessary to take extra care. Your article makes it simple and the pictures very attractive. I also find your closing statement spot on, but those who desire prevention should follow all the suggestions. Great job.

    • DS Duby profile image
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      DS Duby 5 years ago from United States, Illinois

      Thank you very much Rajan Jolly and Melovy I too believe natural therapies are the best way to go whenever possible. Melovy, you are absolutely right. when researching for my own cholesterol problems several years ago I couldn't hardly find anything on HDL cholesterols only the LDLs.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Scott this is very useful information. Many people are less aware of good cholesterol than are aware of bad, so it's great you've included that. My husband has slightly raised cholesterol so I will show him your article!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Excellently written and useful information DS Duby. I'm a believer in natural foods and natural therapies for getting rid of health issues, as far as possible. So I'm really happy to read this hub.

      Voted up & useful. Passing it on.

    • DS Duby profile image
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      DS Duby 5 years ago from United States, Illinois

      Right on! Wish my body would do that lol but I can't complain I still eat what I want too just not as often. Thanks for reading and commenting Mhatter

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for sharing this info. I can still eat anything I want, My body will "eject" anything it doesn't want in it.

    • DS Duby profile image
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      DS Duby 5 years ago from United States, Illinois

      Thanks rcrumple I was on medication for LDL as well and high blood pressure but I managed to get them both squared away a few years ago and have been off ever since. Thanks for reading and commenting

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

      Extremely interesting hub! Am actually on medication to control LDL, but really have never had a problem with it. Supposedly, more precautionary than anything else. Learned a lot here. Great Job!

    • DS Duby profile image
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      DS Duby 5 years ago from United States, Illinois

      Thanks CloudExplorer I was actually just logging in now for typo check lol. I appreciate the kind words and help you're awesome!

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      DS, this hub was pretty awesome & all the imagery makes it look beautiful (awesome positioning of the content too), I learned a great deal about LDL, HDL, and the other DL's. Its on point when it comes to helping people understand the health benefits, as well as risks of having a higher HDL, and many ways to lower it. Nicely done bro, and very well written, & with some very minor typos.

      I always have loads of them in all of my hubs mostly, and definitely after hitting that publish button, but by now you may have already corrected it all.

      You already know I'm a real dude, and so I help folks in this way directly, and I do it in a much more positive way, I wish people would do such a thing on my hubs directly to point out my errors, rather then gas me all up to keep these comments moving and all, but its all good though bro.

      This is definitely a change in your flow of writing here, and I like this style and subject type of writing, health is definitely something that has gotten me going on here as well. Awesome Hub! bro.

      Thumbs up, and this one is getting shared for sure man, chat with you soon.