It’s a great idea to lower your cholesterol naturally, and if you make the proper adjustments to your diet and lifestyle you may not need to go on prescription medication to get the job done. In some cases natural methods may not be enough, and your cholesterol may be at a dangerous enough level that you need to intervene with pharmaceuticals. That’s why it’s always a good idea to work with your doctor and let them know you’d like to handle this as naturally as possible. Here are a variety of ways you can start using to get your cholesterol under control.
1. Increase Activity Levels
The absolute most natural way to lower cholesterol is to get your body moving more. It’s natural for the human body to move, and in today’s society our level of activity has hit all time lows. We’re presented with a world that comes to us and requires very little action on our part. We sit in our cars, at our desks, and on our sofas, and getting exercise has become like a chore. But it wasn’t always like this, and some of the lowest rates of high cholesterol come from cultures where daily activity is built into the lifestyle.
2. Get More Fiber
Eating more fiber is one key to lowering your cholesterol, and is very natural as well. Earlier humans used to eat plenty of fiber, as their diet consisted mostly of fruits growing in trees, and later plants that they found while foraging in a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Only in modern times has the standard diet become so devoid of fiber. Since meat is so easily obtained now and forms the cornerstone to most meals, with fruits and vegetables relegated to side dishes, the amount of fiber consumed daily has been reduced to very low levels. Increase your intake of natural fiber sources and you’ll do wonders for your cholesterol.
3. Reduce Saturated Fats
Saturated fat is the bad kind of fat, the kind that hardens arteries and raises your bad levels of cholesterol. If you reduce the amount of saturated fat you eat, all else being equal you should notice a reduction in your cholesterol levels. One of the easiest ways to help clear out some of the saturated fat in your diet is it change your cooking methods. Bake your food instead of frying it, or grill it. These two ways of cooking drastically reduce the amount of oil you’re using, which will naturally help you reduce the saturated fat, and have lower levels of cholesterol as a result.
4. Watch the Salt
Today’s foods are already loaded with sodium, yet still we add salt to them in order to flavor them up, sometimes without even tasting them first to see if they need it. The problem is that ordinary iodized salt is going to contribute to your sodium levels, which could increase levels of hypertension, which when combined with high levels of cholesterol can spell trouble. If you need to use salt, make sure it’s sea salt or Himalayan salt, and not the refined salt you see on restaurant tables across the country and in great big blue cylindrical containers at the store.
5. Cut Out All Trans Fat
Trans fat is a very unnatural substance for the body, and it is something that has come about thanks to the food industry synthesizing oils in order to make a bigger profit. The result is some of the deadliest fat you can consume. Some of the biggest culprits are junk food and fast food, although regulations have forced many companies to change their oils. However, it’s still best to avoid these types of foods because the new oils they are using are probably just as bad for your cholesterol levels, even though they may technically be listed as free of trans fat.
6. Eat More Fruits
Most fruits are naturally high in fiber, and are bursting with antioxidants. The absence of fruit in a diet is a sure sign that cholesterol levels are going to be higher than they should be. You don’t have to go overboard with your fruit intake, but one or two pieces per day will go far in your efforts to lower your cholesterol. Choose fruits that are high in fiber and other good things for you like potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. One good byproduct of eating fruit is that it should give you more energy, which will hopefully make you more active, which will also contribute to lower levels of cholesterol.
7. Get Picky with Food
Start being very discerning with the types of food you eat. Treat your body like a temple and only let in what you know is moving your forward towards your goal of more healthy cholesterol levels. Scrutinize nutrition labels and ingredients lists and only take in foods that are low in dietary cholesterol, and contain ingredients that you know will help you. Specifically you want to watch out for prepackaged foods that are made with the wrong types of oil, like hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. Even though the label might not list any trans fat, it’s still there, but in small enough amounts that they don’t have to list it. But any trans fat is bad trans fat, so cut out those types of oils entirely.
8. Cut Out High Fat Dairy
One way to make sure that you’re eating the right dairy is to cut it out of your diet altogether. If you can’t live without your dairy, make sure you’re not using the full-fat variety, and go with dairy that is low in fat. Some of the most popular diet programs have you getting rid of dairy completely to aid in weight loss. Losing weight often results in lower levels of cholesterol and better heart health. Switching to dairy products made from goat’s milk may also be something to consider. At any rate you’ll want to be sure to opt for low-fat dairy whenever possible.
9. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is a fantastic help to the body in several different ways, but what we’re most interested here is its ability to help with cholesterol levels. The trick is that you’ve got to drink a lot of it to see the best results. You can drink up to 10 cups of it per day and you should see a drop in your bad cholesterol levels, while your good cholesterol levels stay where they are. Green tea also contains plenty of antioxidants, far more than any common tea because it is relatively unprocessed, preserving the good things it contains.
10. Stop Smoking
If you’re a smoker you can do a lot of good by stopping, as this is a major contributor to higher cholesterol levels, and can lead to various forms of heart disease if you continue. Not to mention it makes it harder to exercise since it reduces your lung capacity. It may not be easy to quit smoking, but there are so many benefits to quitting that you should never stop trying to quit if you’ve tried in the past and failed. The kicker is that smoking has a direct effect on your good cholesterol, bringing it down when in fact you want those levels up.
11. Lay Off the Meat
In the Standard American Diet meat has taken on the starring role, and it’s not surprising since there are so many industries backing the consumption of meat. The beef industry, poultry industry, and pork industry all have plenty of campaigns in place to keep their foods on the top of everyone’s mind, and restaurants have all adopted a meat-centric menu. But giving meat a more peripheral role in your diet will go a long way in reducing your cholesterol levels. Proof of this comes in many forms, but the most convincing is the low levels of cholesterol found in vegetarians compared to their carnivorous counterparts. You don’t have to give it up completely, but cutting back can help a ton.
12. Eat More Fish
Replace some of the red meat, pork, and chicken you eat during the week with fish. Fish has been shown to help cholesterol levels, and if you go with an oily variety you’ll be getting omega-3s which have shown to be very beneficial when striving for heart health. If you are not accustomed to eating fish, there are plenty of recipes available that will show you how to select it at the store, prepare it for cooking once you get it home, and turn it into a dish that you’ll enjoy eating. Salmon is often brought up as one of the healthiest choices of fish, just make sure to eat wild caught salmon.
13. Eat More Vegetables
Eating more vegetables is advice you’ve probably heard since you were a child, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your body and overall health, and particularly for your cholesterol levels. Many vegetables are full of fiber, and depending on which ones you go with will also contain phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals to help power you through your day. The byproduct of eating more vegetables is almost always a lower level of bad cholesterol, improved digestion, and more energy. That’s like hitting a nutritional trifecta, so start increasing your veggie consumption today.
14. Get Nuts!
Increasing your intake of nuts can do wonders for your cholesterol. Many of them contain healthy fat which will actually help you lose fat, even though it may sound counterintuitive at first. The best nuts to munch on are almonds, walnuts, pecans, and others. Be sure to just have about a handful or so in one sitting, as they could cause weight gain if you eat too many of them. Like most things it’s all about moderation, and eating enough to gain the benefits without going so far as to make it counterproductive.
15. Ease Up On Alcohol
You want to be the Goldilocks of alcohol consumption, and drink just the right amount of it. Too much and you’ll be worsening your cholesterol situation. Having a drink or two per day could actually help you get a handle on it, and lower it down to the right levels as part of a comprehensive approach. The amounts vary between men and women, with most research suggesting that one drink per day for a woman can be beneficial, while men can have one to two drinks per day.
16. Eat Smarter Snacks
You don’t have to cut snacks out of your diet, you just have to eat better snacks. This doesn’t have to be a painful change, as there are plenty of healthy snacking options that will boost your levels of good cholesterol while keeping the bad cholesterol down. By choosing snacks that are lower in fat you’ll be doing yourself a service, rather than a disservice. Opt out of the potato chips and choose popcorn that you’ve made yourself, or something like kale chips. These will give your body nutrients and minerals, while being low and fat and still having the crunch you want at snack time.