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Try These Remedies to Lower Cholesterol
Lowering blood cholesterol is important especially if you suffer from hypercholesterolemia or have a high risk of heart disease. Although doctors are quick to recommend cholesterol-lowering drugs such as statins, there are safer and equally effective ways to lower your cholesterol. Discussed in this article are the most effective home remedies to help your blood cholesterol. They include lifestyle and dietary changes as well as natural supplements.
There are a number of effective lifestyle changes and remedies you can adopt at home to effectively manage your blood cholesterol level.
These changes and remedies may save you from heart attack or a diagnosis of heart disease later in life. Alternatively, they can complement your current heart treatment by contributing to keeping your cholesterol level down.
Discussed below are proven home remedies and changes you can make to lower your blood cholesterol.
While dietary cholesterol contributes to blood cholesterol level, it is not the major contributor. A more important determinant of blood cholesterol level is dietary fat.
Specifically, the amount of saturated fats consumed has a great influence on blood cholesterol levels.
Saturated fats to avoid include fats found in dairy products, cooking oils, poultry skin and the marbling of red meat. These fats should be avoided especially in refined, processed foods such as snacks and fast foods.
It is best to learn how to count fat grams on food product labels. This can help reduce the amount of daily calories due to saturated and total fats.
Regarding meats, the labelled grades of store-bought, packaged meat are important. Such meat products are labelled prime, choice and select or lean. Prime cut (40 – 45%) has the highest proportion of fat while select (15 – 20%) has the least amount.
Another way to reduce dietary fat intake from meat sources is by reducing the size of the meat portion consumed.
Besides saturated fats, trans fats can also raise blood cholesterol levels.
Trans fats are especially bad for blood cholesterol levels. Besides increasing LDL (low-density lipoprotein or “bad”) cholesterol levels, trans fats also reduce the level of HDL (high-density lipoprotein or “good”) cholesterol.
Trans fats are partially hydrogenated oils used in the manufacture of some margarines and in the preparation of baked foods. The amount of trans fats in processed foods are usually indicated on their labels.
Plant foods usually contain much lower amounts of fats than foods derived from animals. In fact, plants do not contain cholesterol. Therefore, eating more plant foods is an excellent way to avoid dietary cholesterol and lower dietary fat intake.
In addition, fats derived from plants are healthier than animal fats.
There are other advantages to eating foods commonly found in vegetarian diets. For one, such foods are also usually rich in proteins and dietary fibers.
Fibers can also contribute to lower blood cholesterol by binding to and reducing the absorption of cholesterol.
In addition, plants contain phytochemicals that can improve cardiovascular health. Seasonings such as turmeric and ginger are good examples of plant foods that can directly lower blood cholesterol.
Lastly, these bioactive phytochemicals can also lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases in other ways besides lowering blood cholesterol level. For example, plant antioxidants inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and, therefore, prevent the clogging and thickening of arteries.
Carbohydrates can help reduce cholesterol level by reducing the amount of fats in food servings.
Because carbohydrate makes a readily available energy source for the body, it can completely satisfy food cravings and, therefore, reduce the amount of fat-rich snacks and junk foods consumed.
However, care should be taken with carbs as the body can store up excess carbohydrates.
Therefore, easily digestible carbs such as simple sugars are not recommended as substitutes for dietary fats and cholesterol since they can contribute to weight gain. Complex carbs are better substitutes.
Complex carbs are not easily broken down by digestive enzymes. Therefore, they release glucose at much slower rates even though they fill you up quickly and improve satiety.
Therefore, you should increase your complex carb intake to help reduce the amounts of fats and cholesterol consumed. These carbs can also improve blood sugar control.
Examples of foods providing complex carbs are fiber-rich fruits, grains, vegetables and dried beans.
Soluble dietary fiber has been proven to reduce blood cholesterol. Studies show that we only consume half daily dietary fiber recommended by health and nutrition experts. Therefore, increasing dietary fiber with fruits and grains can significantly lower cholesterol levels.
It is best to increase fiber intake gradually. This allows the body to better adapt to the effects of fiber in the digestive system.
In addition, plenty of fluids should be taken when increasing dietary fiber intake. This is because fibers need fluids to increase the emptying of the intestine. Without adequate fluids, fibers clog up the digestive tract and may cause constipation.
When taken with a lot of fluids, dietary fiber absorbs fluid and swells up into a gelatinous mass.
This gelatinous mass increases gastrointestinal emptying and also binds to dietary cholesterol and fats in the intestines. Therefore, fiber removes cholesterol from the body even before it is absorbed.
This also means that dietary fiber lowers blood cholesterol levels by increasing the fecal excretion of fats and cholesterol.
To add more fiber to your diet, you should take more oatmeal, whole grain products and brown rice.
Experts have consistently recommended oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids for improving cardiovascular health. While the studies done to investigate the cholesterol-lowering effects of these fatty acids have conflicting results, there is solid evidence to demonstrate that these fatty acids protect the heart.
Fish contain significantly lower amounts of fats and cholesterol. Unlike meat, fish becomes even more important to our health as we grow older.
Currently, the American Heart Association recommends consuming fish two times per week.
Examples of omega-3 fish to add to your diet to help lower blood cholesterol and improve cardiovascular heart are herring, sardines, trout, salmon and tuna.
Meat, on the other hand, contains higher levels of fats and cholesterol. Organ meats are usually preferred for their iron and protein contents but they are also especially rich in fat and cholesterol and should, therefore, be removed from your diet.
Smoking affects your general health. Although most people know that smoking can increase the risk of lung cancer, only a few know that it has a direct effect on cholesterol levels.
Specifically, smoking reduces HDL cholesterol level and studies have shown that blood HDL cholesterol level goes up when you quit smoking.
Smoking increases the risks of heart attack and heart disease. Experts say that within one year of quitting smoking, the risk of heart disease is halved.
Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to improve cardiovascular health. However, this does not mean that you should start drinking. For those who already drink, moderating alcohol intake can help.
Moderate alcohol consumption increases the level of HDL cholesterol. The increase is not so significant though and alcohol cannot be recommended as a home remedy for lowering blood cholesterol.
Moderate consumption of alcohol is described as one drink per day.
Aerobic exercise can improve your lipid profile and lower LDL cholesterol levels. In addition, exercise increases HDL cholesterol and lowers triglyceride levels.
The kinds of exercise that help are those that get the heart pumping and the muscles moving for sustained periods of time. Experts recommend 30 – 45 minutes of aerobic exercises such as running, jogging, biking, and swimming.
Studies show that exercises work best when divided into short bursts. Therefore, exercising for 10 – 15 minutes, 3 – 4 times daily is recommended to lower blood cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health.
Besides cholesterol, exercise reduces triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are also fatty molecules and they are just as bad for cardiovascular health as LDL cholesterol.
In addition, exercise can help you lose weight by getting rid of the stored pockets of fats in your body.
To retain your motivation for exercising daily, experts advise getting an exercise partner or joining an exercise group. It is important to keep your exercise regimen fun and engaging by varying the types of exercise you do.
Varying your exercise regimen also keeps different muscle groups in your body engaged and ensures that your body continually gets the highest gains from exercising.
Garlic belongs to the onion plant family. The bulb is used as food seasoning and condiment.
Although garlic is a nutritional powerhouse, it is also a potent medicinal remedy. The active phytochemicals in garlic are sulfur compounds such as allin and allicin. Although allin is the most abundant phytochemical in garlic, allicin is responsible for the cholesterol-lowering property of the plant.
Studies have shown that garlic can significantly reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It can also moderately lower LDL cholesterol levels but its effect on HDL cholesterol is only minimal.
Garlic lowers blood cholesterol by blocking the production of cholesterol in the liver. Specifically, the bioactive sulfur compounds in garlic inhibit the liver enzymes required for cholesterol synthesis.
Garlic can also reduce other risk factors for heart disease. For example, it has an anticoagulant property. Therefore, it prevents blood clot formation.
To use garlic to lower cholesterol, you can eat a clove of garlic early in the morning or make seasoning pastes out of garlic seeds to add to your meals. Alternatively, you can take garlic supplements made from the powdered seeds.
Turmeric belongs to the ginger plant family. The rhizome of the plant is used as food seasoning and food coloring. However, it is just as popular for its medicinal properties.
The bioactive compounds in turmeric are known as curcuminoids and the chief compound is curcumin.
Curcumin affects the absorption, excretion and metabolism of cholesterol. It increases the secretion of bile acids and prevent them from facilitating the absorption of fats and dietary cholesterol. Therefore, curcumin increases the fecal excretion of cholesterol along with bile acids.
While curcumin does not inhibit the liver enzyme, HMG-CoA reductase, it does raise the effects of another liver enzyme, cholesterol-7-alpha-hydroxylase, and therefore speed up the breakdown of cholesterol in the liver.
Using turmeric as a spice is an excellent way of lowering blood cholesterol with this home remedy. Studies have shown that the cholesterol-lowering properties of turmeric are unaffected by cooking.
Besides lowering blood cholesterol, the antioxidant effect of turmeric can also help reduce the risk of heart disease by blocking the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Green tea is the antioxidant-rich tea prepared from the slightly oxidized leaves of Camellia sinensis.
The antioxidants in green tea are known as catechins. These compounds can help prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. However, green tea catechins can directly affect blood cholesterol levels.
Studies show that regular consumption of green tea lowers both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. There is also a moderate increase in HDL cholesterol level.
The catechins in green tea reduce the absorption of dietary fat and cholesterol by preventing their solubilization.
The combination of the antioxidant and cholesterol-lowering properties of green tea has been proven to significantly improve cardiovascular health. Therefore, experts strongly recommend regular and high consumption of green tea.
Alfalfa is a legume and a forage crop. It is nutrient-rich and also a medicinal plant.
The cholesterol-lowering effect of alfalfa has been attributed to its saponin and fiber content.
Both the fiber and saponins in alfalfa block the absorption of dietary cholesterol. While dietary fiber binds to cholesterol in a gelatinous mass, saponins prevent cholesterol from forming the micelles necessary for its absorption.
Artichoke is an antioxidant-rich, high-fiber vegetable. Besides the benefits of its antioxidant and fiber contents, artichoke can also reduce cholesterol levels by other means.
Artichoke increases the secretion and fecal excretion of bile acids. These effects reduce the absorption of dietary cholesterol by increasing its fecal elimination.
In addition, artichoke inhibits the liver enzyme, HMG-CoA reductase, and therefore inhibits the production of cholesterol.
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Resterol is a natural remedy that promotes healthy cholesterol levels. Works best when used in conjuction with a healthy diet such as the Paleo Diet.