If you are here, you may have a concern for managing your cholesterol levels, or know someone who is trying to do so. So, why is high cholesterol a concern?
High cholesterol causes atherosclerosis, forming plaques and thus considerably increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Lowering cholesterol may help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other vascular ailments.
There is no doubt that lowering cholesterol helps prevent heart disease. Studies show that heart disease prevalence has continually reduced since the mid 20th century. One of the reasons for the lower incidence of heart attacks is that, now, people realize the importance of lowering cholesterol.
However, one of the issues with high cholesterol is that people living with it do not necessarily have high cholesterol intake. Instead, the primary cause of high cholesterol is its increased production in the body.
One of the ways of reducing the production of cholesterol in the body is with the help of medications like statins. But these medications have a range of adverse effects. Thus, lowering cholesterol through lifestyle changes or the use of natural supplements is a better way.
Consume healthy fats
People living with high cholesterol do not need to completely exclude fats from their diet; instead, they need to consume the right type of fats. Therefore, it is essential to consume more healthy fats.
Thus, trans fats (like margarine) are a big no. These are synthetically created fats and have no role in a healthy diet. Additionally, keep the intake of saturated fats like those of animal origins to below 10% of daily calorie intake.
However, one should increase the intake of certain polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. It appears that the modern human diet is rich in omega-6 fatty acids but relatively low in omega-3s. This has created a kind of imbalance in the human body, causing inflammation and high cholesterol.
Numerous studies show that fish oil or omega-3 may considerably help lower cholesterol. In fact, in recent years, US FDA has even approved a medical drug based on omega-3 fatty acids for lowering cholesterol (1).
For vegans, sources of omega-3 could be flaxseed, nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, kidney beans, seaweed, to name a few.
Increase intake of lean proteins
A high protein diet may alter appetite and aid weight loss. A high protein diet may also help boost basal metabolic rate. People who consume more proteins are less likely to be obese or develop insulin resistance. Therefore, it is beneficial for us to consume more fish, chicken, and so on.
Studies show that one of the ways in which a high protein diet may work is by increasing the levels of HDL cholesterol. Thus, a high protein diet or supplementation may help lower cholesterol (2).
For vegans, a good source of lean proteins could be tofu, lentils, beans, green peas, spirulina, amaranth, quinoa, soy milk, to name a few.
For vegans, there are many plant-based protein supplements, too. These supplements have a potent effect on satiety and boost basal metabolic rate.
Exercise is one of the excellent ways to reduce cholesterol. It would be generally good to combine aerobic training with resistance exercises. Aerobic activity has a direct cholesterol-lowering effect. However, resistance training results in a greater increase in metabolic rate and has a longer-lasting effect. Therefore, it appears that regular exercise is essential for lowering cholesterol (3).
Maintain healthy body weight
One of the reasons why so many people these days are living with high cholesterol is the high prevalence of obesity. The majority of Americans are obese. Obesity means excess fat stored in the body and higher amounts of circulating fats in the blood.
It is estimated that 10 pounds of weight loss may help reduce 10 mg of cholesterol. Further, it is essential to understand that high triglycerides are the direct result of obesity in most people. Additionally, reducing body fat helps reduce visceral fat, helps prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, thus having wide-ranging health benefits (4).
Use natural supplements
Numerous natural supplements may help reduce total cholesterol. For example, supplementing a diet with soluble fibers like oat bran, psyllium, guar gum may help considerably reduce cholesterol levels (5).
It appears that normalizing gut function may help alter various metabolic pathways. Thus, it is one of the healthy ways of reducing cholesterol.
One of the best natural ways of lowering cholesterol is using red yeast rice (RYR). It is one of the best-kept secrets of the healthcare industry. RYR can be as effective as statins in lowering cholesterol levels. The reason for its high efficacy is simple. One of the first statins was, in fact, derived from RYR. Thus, its regular use as a supplement may help lower LDL cholesterol by 15% to 25% (6).
Similarly, some natural extracts have direct cholesterol-lowering actions like berberine, cinnamon, and many others.
Berberine is a wonderful and natural way of considerably reducing cholesterol. Studies show that its regular use may lower cholesterol by as much as one-third in three months. It appears that berberine may even alter the expression of certain genes, thus reducing the production of cholesterol by the body. However, it only helps normalize its levels and does not cause side effects like statins (7).
Similarly, consuming higher amounts of cinnamon could be a pleasant way of reducing cholesterol. Studies show that it could be pretty effective, especially when consumed with foods that are high in fats. Moreover, it can help lower triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol and thus improve cardiovascular health (8).
Consuming cinnamon daily might not be possible. Thus, adding a cinnamon supplement to a daily diet may be an option. Even more so, you can take our Ancient Bliss Berberine Plus where they are both including among other helpful herbs.
Further, for best results, one should use multiple methods to lower their cholesterol. Thus, make changes to your diet, increase dietary fiber intake, and combine multiple supplements like berberine and cinnamon.