5 Natural Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol

If you've been told by a medical professional that you need to lower your cholesterol, then you probably know that doing so is critical to maintaining a healthy heart. High levels of LDL, otherwise known as “bad cholesterol,” and low levels of HDL, or “good cholesterol,” are both signs that you need to take steps to get your cholesterol levels in balance. Though this may seem daunting at first, making everyday lifestyle changes is a good place to start. Here are five ways you can effectively lower your cholesterol, naturally.\


1. Eat cholesterol-fighting foods
A balanced diet is a key strategy in the plan to lower your cholesterol. Incorporate natural soluble fiber, found in oatmeal, apples, kidney beans and other foods into your meals. It helps reduce the absorption of LDL into your bloodstream. Omega-3 fatty acids promote good heart health, as well, and are great for reducing your blood pressure. You'll find omega-3s in abundance in "oily" fish like salmon and halibut, and in smaller amounts in flax seed.

Another way you can help lower your cholesterol naturally is by avoiding foods that contain trans fats, like potato chips and other processed foods. These are usually cooked in partially hydrogenated oils and shortening – some of the worst offenders when it comes to high cholesterol. Make a habit of reading nutrition labels and say no to baked goodies, margarines and anything that contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fats).

2. Get in motion
A regular exercise routine can help strengthen your heart and fight high cholesterol. Studies show that as little as 20-30 minutes per day of exercise can help lower your bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol by five to ten percent. Physical exercise is effective because it helps to regulate glucose levels and the lipids in your blood stream. Walking, running, swimming, and moderate weight lifting are natural ways to reach a healthy cholesterol level. The important thing is getting started, even if all you do is walk around the block in the beginning. 

3. Supplement your diet, naturally
Natural supplements can be an effective way to help lower your cholesterol. Supplements taken in addition to consuming a balanced diet increase the amount of nutrients that you take in – something you may not be able to do with food alone. For example, fish oil capsules are a great way to get Omega-3s without having to eat fish. Other supplements that can help lower your cholesterol are plant sterols. Research shows that these natural substances in plants lower your cholesterol by blocking it from being absorbed into the small intestine.

4. Maintain a healthy level of vitamin D
Vitamin D can increase the level of HDL in your blood (HDL cholesterol is the one that plays a critical role in protecting you from the risk of heart disease). Your body will produce vitamin D naturally through exposure to sunlight; all it takes is about 15 minutes a few times a week. Another way to ensure that you're getting enough vitamin D to help lower your cholesterol is by eating foods that are rich in D vitamins. Wild salmon and shrimp, skim and low-fat milk, and fortified yogurts and cereals are good sources of vitamin D.

5. Go green (as in green tea)
The Chinese have relied on the medicinal benefits of naturally grown green tea for centuries. Green tea can help lower your cholesterol, perhaps by balancing the ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol. A compound called catechin, which can decrease the absorption of cholesterol in your body, is responsible for green tea's heart-healthy benefits. If it's more convenient, try green tea in supplement form – it has been found to be just as effective in lowering cholesterol levels as drinking green tea.

Motivation plays a role in your efforts to lower your cholesterol. That's why it's nice to know that there are at least five simple, completely natural, things you can do to bring down those cholesterol numbers and keep them there.

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