Making dietary modifications and keeping physically active have been shown to aid with cholesterol management and lessen the risk of heart disease. Some dietary supplements could decrease cholesterol, but they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Some patients require prescription medicine due to other risk factors, such as heart disease or diabetes. Others are unable to achieve their desired cholesterol levels through lifestyle modifications alone, so they need supplements and medications as recommended by the doctor.
26 ways to lower cholesterol
- Diet has a significant impact on cholesterol levels. Saturated fat stimulates the production of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the body. Avoiding or reducing the consumption of red or fatty meats, cheese, butter, ice cream, and tropical oils (coconut and palm) and replacing them with lean proteins (legumes, lean chicken, and fish) and plant-based polyunsaturated oils (e.g., canola, olive, sunflower, and flaxseed) can have a significant impact.
- It could be beneficial to consume more soluble fiber. When combined with water, this fiber produces a gel that can prevent cholesterol from being reabsorbed into circulation. Beans, avocados, sweet potatoes, broccoli, pear, carrots, apples, oats, and barley are examples of soluble fiber foods.
- Consume more monounsaturated fats. Avocados, nuts (peanuts, almonds) vegetable oils (sesame, olive, and sunflower) are rich in monounsaturated fats.
- Improve your gut health
- The gut microbiome is made up of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Preliminary studies indicate that it has a considerable impact on triglyceride and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, as well as the risk of weight gain.
- Begin by limiting your intake of sugary, processed, or fatty meals to boost your gut microbiota. Consume entire fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes (such as beans), and soluble fibers (oatmeal).
- Fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and tempeh, are high in probiotics and easy to digest, and can help enhance the population of healthy bacteria in the stomach in tiny amounts.
- Supplemental probiotics might be useful, especially if you need antibiotics to treat an infection.
- Exercise regularly and be physical activity
- Being more physically active can help you maintain a healthy body weight, regulate blood pressure, and decrease cholesterol levels.
- Aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate to vigorous exercise every week. Choose things that you love so that your exercise time is enjoyable.
- You can begin slowly if you do not feel prepared for intensive activity.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Set up an exercise bike in front of the TV and cycling while watching your favorite shows are some good examples.
- Take steps to reduce your stress
- Do not smoke
- Limit alcohol
- Omega-3 fatty acids through diet or as supplements
- Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include oysters, mussels, shellfish, mackerel, and other fatty fish. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may benefit from a healthy cholesterol level according to a large body of studies.
- Omega-3 fatty acids can dramatically lower triglyceride levels and high cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acid improves HDL cholesterol, which is essential to managing and preventing cardiovascular disease.
- Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in diet or supplements
- Consuming omega-6-rich foods is an excellent strategy to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
- Polyunsaturated fats, as opposed to saturated fat, will focus on boosting good cholesterol and regulating LDL levels.
- Take coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
- This potent antioxidant promotes heart health by protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidation and reenergizing the mitochondria in heart cells, which are responsible for energy metabolism. CoQ10 may aid in blood pressure reduction.
- Include more vitamin C
- Vitamin C helps raise good cholesterol while reducing bad cholesterol. Snack on citrus fruits, such as oranges, papayas, kiwis, and grapefruits.
- Vitamin D
- Niacin or nicotinic acid in diet or supplements
- B vitamin that the body needs to convert food into fuel. Niacin is found in dairy products, lean meat, chicken, fish, nuts, and eggs.
- Niacin is often administered in considerably higher dosage to boost HDL cholesterol (by 15 to 35 percent), with the added benefit of decreasing LDL and triglycerides.
- For further LDL reduction, prescription niacin can be used with a statin or a bile acid resin.
- However, you should never take significant dosages of niacin without first consulting your doctor.
- Plant stanol and sterol supplements
- Numerous seeds, grains, nuts, vegetables, and fruits are high in stanols and sterols. You can get fortified versions in processed foods.
- They operate straightforwardly. The food you eat is absorbed into your gut. When sterols and stanols enter the bloodstream, they reduce LDL cholesterol while not affecting HDL cholesterol. According to studies, consuming two grams of plant stanols or sterols per day can reduce LDL by 6 to 15 percent.
- A plant-based diet alone will not provide the necessary daily consumption. Experts recommend stanol and sterol cholesterol-lowering supplements.
- Astragalus is a well-known plant with powerful therapeutic effects. It is used to treat renal illness, diabetes, hay fever, respiratory disorders, and other diseases. However, research has reported that it can aid in natural cholesterol regulation.
- Scientists observed a significant change in total cholesterol levels following treatment with astragalus polysaccharides on plasma lipids.
- Further study reveals that astragalus is excellent for cholesterol absorption, which means it might be utilized as a natural cholesterol reducer.
- This plant is one of the most often used herbal remedies. The entire hawthorn plant, including its flowers, berries, and leaves, can be used as medicine.
- Experts believe that hawthorn can help widen blood arteries, improve nerve function, and aid in cardiac function. However, it has been shown to have a direct favorable effect on cholesterol.
- According to research, hawthorn can help lower cholesterol, particularly LDL. It could be useful to control triglycerides, which are fats in the blood.
- One of its primary advantages is that it reduces fat deposition in the arteries and liver. As a result, it aids in the maintenance of healthy blood circulation.
- Black and green tea
- Both black and green teas are powerful natural cholesterol-lowering agents. The use of organic leaves in the preparation of the drink can have a major influence.
- According to experts, catechins help lower LDL cholesterol. However, unfermented leaves produce the best outcomes.
- Although additional study is needed to assess its effect on triglycerides and HDL, it appears that the tea can effectively lower cholesterol levels.
- Garlic in diet or supplement
- Garlic supplements are frequently combined with cholesterol and herbal supplements. It can lower cholesterol and prevent coronary heart disease.
- According to animal and human studies, garlic supplements can lower cholesterol levels.
- Garlic's effects may be enhanced if you consume it regularly in your diet as an alternative.
- Artichoke leaf extract
- According to research, artichoke leaf extract may have some cholesterol-lowering properties.
- Despite the limited data, trials show promising results. Nonetheless, many people prefer to use this natural product. They select it because of its high antioxidant content, particularly flavonoids. It may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis when consumed.
- Soy protein
- Soy protein, which is commonly found in tofu or soy milk, is an excellent substitute for high-fat protein foods. According to reports, it can help lower LDL cholesterol, which may prevent heart disease.
- According to clinical studies, soy can help with hypertension. Soy isoflavones appear to be beneficial for glycemic control, inflammation, blood pressure, and obesity.
- These studies show the value of using soy's bioactive compounds to improve overall health. Although more research is needed, it appears that its bioactive compounds have a lot to offer.
- Coriander seeds
- Dry coriander seeds are high in antioxidants, which help lower cholesterol levels.
- Coriander is a diuretic; it helps the kidneys flush out toxins that may cause inflammation in the body.
- Psyllium husk
- Psyllium husk, an edible water-soluble fiber, can help lower cholesterol levels by binding to fats and bile acids and flushing them out of the body.
- It has been shown to raise good cholesterol. However, because psyllium is not particularly tasty, it is best to incorporate it into your breakfast cereal or blend it into a smoothie.
- Fenugreek seeds
- Regular consumption of fenugreek seeds helps lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), and triglyceride levels in the blood while increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol levels. This is because these seeds contain steroidal saponins that slow down cholesterol absorption of the intestines.
- They reduce the intensity at which the liver produces cholesterol.
- Apart from this, fenugreek seeds decrease the absorption of triglycerides from fatty foods.
- Amla or Indian gooseberry
- Amla is high in essential amino acids and antioxidants, which all help lower bad cholesterol. The Indian gooseberry has been shown in clinical studies to have a hypolipidemic effect, lowering triglycerides and cholesterol.
- According to research, amla supports liver function and removes toxins from the body.
- Turmeric reduces the amount of cholesterol accumulated on artery walls. Turmeric can be added to vegetables or mixed into a glass of milk before retiring to bed. This lowers harmful cholesterol.
- However, drinking a solution of half a teaspoon of turmeric and warm water after waking up in the morning is the ideal approach.
- Red yeast rice
- Red yeast rice has gained popularity in the United States in recent years due to its ability to prevent the liver from producing cholesterol.
- This is attributed in part to monacolin K, a natural version of lovastatin (a prescription medicine used to decrease LDL cholesterol).
Acceptable and harmful levels for various types of cholesterol
- Lower than 200 mg/dL are considered healthy
- 200 to 239 mg/dL is borderline high
- 240 mg/dL and above is considered high
Bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL)
- Should be less than 100 mg/dL
- 100 to 129 mg/dL is acceptable for people with no health problems but could be a concern for anyone with heart diseases or their risk factors
- 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline high
- 160mg/dL and above is considered high
Good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL)
- HDL levels should be 60 mg/dL or higher
- If HDL is less than 40 mg/dL, it can be a major risk factor for heart disease
Too much of the bad kind or not enough of the good kind raises the risk of cholesterol progressively accumulating in the inner walls of the arteries.
3 common medications to treat cholesterol levels
Changes in lifestyle can help lower cholesterol levels. Nonetheless, 55 percent of individuals in the United States use cholesterol-lowering medication.
Here are the three most common medications used to treat cholesterol levels:
- They are the most well-known drugs to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by inhibiting cholesterol formation.
- They are the first-line therapy for people who have excessive cholesterol levels or have a history of heart disease.
- Statins are beneficial for those who have specific risk factors, such as diabetes, cigarette use, high blood pressure, and a family history of cardiovascular disease.
- Nonstatin medications
- Nonstatin drugs, such as ezetimibe, are often used in addition to statins to give an extra cholesterol-lowering effect. They help the body eliminate excess cholesterol.
- PCSK9 inhibitors
- They are monoclonal antibody medications that enhance the way the liver removes LDL, and they are quite effective. These drugs can lower LDL cholesterol by about 60 percent.
Cleveland Clinic. How to Naturally Lower Your Cholesterol. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/from-fiber-to-fish-oil-natural-ways-to-lower-your-cholesterol/
Rosenthal RL. Effectiveness of altering serum cholesterol levels without drugs. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2000 Oct;13(4):351-5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1312230/
Johns Hopkins Medicine. How to naturally lower your cholesterol levels. https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/how-to-naturally-lower-your-cholesterol-levels/105009/
High Cholesterol: Prevention, Treatment and Research. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/high-cholesterol/high-cholesterol-prevention-treatment-and-research
University of Connecticut. Ways to Naturally Lower Your Cholesterol. https://today.uconn.edu/2019/07/ways-naturally-lower-cholesterol/
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