Is your cholesterol level on the border line or above it? You need to take action and the first thing you should do is learn how to lower your cholesterol fast.
Good news is that majority of us can get our cholesterol levels down without taking medicines. Some lifestyle changes can prove to be very strong.
Cholesterol is needed for maintaining the permeability of cell membranes, metabolize fat soluble vitamins and carry out important hormone processes. Excess of everything is bad. Make sure your cholesterol doesn’t rise above 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) because then you at a risk of lot of other health issues.
To remain on the safe side, most of us reaching our 30s should get a lipoprotein profile done. When your cholesterol level ranges between 200 and 239, it is borderline high but when it is above 240 it is HIGH cholesterol.
The major reason for high cholesterol is aging, excessive drinking, smoking, genetics, obesity, lack of physical activity and intake of a lot of saturated fats in diet.
1. Cholesterol reducing diet
Your diet is an ultimate key when it comes to naturally lowering your cholesterol. Here are some of the kinds of foods to lower cholesterol:
- Herbs – make it a point to use different herbs and spices like turmeric, rosemary and basil as they contain antioxidants that naturally bring down your cholesterol.
- Onions and Garlic – they both contain sulfur compounds that lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) and unclog your arteries.
- Foods rich in soluble fiber – soluble fiber sticks to cholesterol in the digestive tract and excretes it. Add loads of fresh vegetables and fruits to your diet.
- Omega 3 fatty acids – foods that are rich in omega 3 fats elevate the level of good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL). Best sources of omega 3 fatty acids are cold water fishes like trout, herring, sardines and salmon.
Here are some foods that you should be avoiding no matter what:
- Caffeine – excess of caffeine increases the level of cholesterol. Drink one to two cups a day.
- Alcohol – Alcohol makes the liver produce more cholesterol and causes inflammation.
- Saturated fat- saturated fat damage your heart and increases cholesterol. Whole milk, cheese, cream, meat and palm oil contain saturated fat.
- Trans fats – if you notice the ingredient list contains partially hydrogenated fat, then that food contains trans fats. It increases bad LDL cholesterol and lowers good HDL cholesterol.
- Sugar and refined carbohydrates – they both make the liver increase its production of cholesterol and cause inflammation.
When the popular cereal brands publicize the fact that soluble fiber in oats aid in reducing total and LDL cholesterol levels, they are not wrong about it. Eating a bowl of oatmeal is the easiest way to bring down your cholesterol level.
Oats are home to a rich content of fiber that consists of beta glucan. This is a soluble fiber which has the ability to bind cholesterol circulating in the blood which in turn helps the body to excrete it out of the body. This way oats help to reduce bad cholesterol.
- You can simply soak oats overnight as this makes cooking it in the morning easier.
- You can add nuts and fruits like banana slices to your oat meal adding to the health benefits of oatmeal. You can have it in a lot of different ways.
- Oatmeal will never get boring. You can even check out some fun oatmeal recipes here.
While nuts have bad name when it comes to cholesterol, the truth is they are a perfect snack for lowering your cholesterol. Research has shown that you should be cracking. You can have peanuts, pistachios, almonds, pecans, cashew nuts, walnuts and other kinds of nuts to maintain normal cholesterol level.
They all contain fiber and plant sterols that reduce your cholesterol but walnut in particular will reduce your overall cholesterol and triglyceride level.
- 5 oz a day is enough. This means a handful of nuts on a regular basis.
- Although nuts are good for your heart’s health, you should remember they are high in calories. Remember to practice portion control.
Now you have a good reason to enjoy it but make sure you keep a tight control on your taste buds and do not overeat it.
Garlic has had its share of medicinal use along with being used in cooking for centuries. Its unique taste and high nutritional value has made it more of a kitchen staple than a traditional remedy.
Garlic is home to Sulphur containing antioxidants which makes it effective for reducing cholesterol. It doesn’t simply reduce your LDL cholesterol level but according to research it elevates HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).
It an even lower your blood pressure if you are a patient of hypertension and its anti-clotting qualities also prevent clots and formation of plaque in the blood vessels that leads to heart attack.
- You can eat it cooked or in raw form.
- You can also find it in the form of tablet or capsule but nothing beats its natural form.
- You can sprinkle chopped garlic in your sandwiches, salad dressings and even soups.
- As an alternative, you can simply have 2 to 4 garlic cloves along with water daily.
Other foods containing sulfur containing antioxidants are onion and ginger. Make them a part of your diet too.
5. Dark Chocolate
This one goes to all the chocolate lovers out there. What a great way to enjoy chocolate and reduce your cholesterol at the same time! However, make sure it is DARK chocolate and not the milk chocolate.
Dark chocolate is a residing place of powerful antioxidants, plant sterols and cocoa flavanols that help to reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by 2% to 5%. The flavonoids present in the dark chocolate keeps the blood platelets from sticking to each other and maintain unclogged arteries. This way it also prevents heart diseases.
- Eat an ounce of dark chocolate every day to pump up your good cholesterol and keep down the bad cholesterol.
- Make sure you buy dark chocolate that is 72% to 75% cocoa.
6. Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice, like the name suggests is a cooking ingredient and also a traditional Chinese medicine used for centuries. When you culture red rice with yeast, you get red yeast rice.
Red yeast rice is known to contain good amount of a compound called monacolin K. in terms of chemical composition, this compound is identical to the active ingredient in cholesterol lowering medicine called lovastatin. This substance helps to lower blood cholesterol levels.
- Red yeast rice supplements are easily available.
- Take 1200 to 2400 mg of this supplement once every day.
- Remain cautious because its long term effects are still not known.
Warning: Some of the red yeast rice products contain a compound called citrinin. It can lead to kidney failure. People suffering from liver problems, breast feeding or pregnant women should NOT take this supplement. Discuss with a doctor before using it.
7. Soybean Oil
What if you could naturally give your body the power to stop absorption of cholesterol in the first place? Plant oils like soybean oil and corn oil possess this quality. Soybean oil and corn oil consists of phytosterols and sterols which doesn’t allow your body to absorb cholesterol. These compounds have the same effect that cholesterol controlling drugs prescribed by your doctor have. It helps to reduce your overall cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) in particular.
Many fruits, vegetables, seeds, legumes, grains and nuts contain these stanols and sterols naturally. Adding them to your diet can also be of great help in combatting high cholesterol levels.
8. Fenugreek Seeds or Leaves
Fenugreek seeds are loaded with vitamin A, B and C along with minerals like zinc, manganese, calcium, iron and potassium. It is the component known as steroidal saponins in fenugreek seeds that are known to minimize cholesterol absorption by the body to a great extent. It disengages the power of fat rich foods to produce cholesterol in your body.
- It has been known that if you take 2 ounces of fenugreek seeds every day, you tend to decrease cholesterol levels by 14% and risk of heart attack by 25%.
- As an alternative, you can add fenugreek leaves to your salad.
- Take fenugreek seeds in the form of powder with water.
- You can even use fenugreek leaves or seeds in your everyday cooking as a herb or spice but remember fenugreek seeds have a bitter taste. Don’t add too much of it. You can get rid of its bitterness by soaking the seeds overnight.
- On the other hand, fenugreek leaves are not bitter in taste which means you don’t have to worry about the quantity when adding it. It not only enhances the taste of food but gives it a beautiful aroma.
9. Brinjal (eggplant)
Brinjal is yet another cholesterol buster. It is easily available contains good amount of potassium, folate, copper, manganese, niacin, vitamin B1 and B6, dietary fiber and other nutrients that help to bring down cholesterol level.
Brinjal is home to a potent antioxidant called chlorogenic acid which helps to keep a check on increasing LDL cholesterol. An added benefit of brinjal is that its component known as nasunin helps to facilitate blood flow by relaxing the walls of blood vessels which keeps heart diseases away.
- You can have fried, roasted, grilled, marinated or stuffed.
- Have brinjal at least once in a week in any form.
Warning: Brinjal is rich in oxalates. If you have any kidney or gallbladder ailment, do not consume brinjal. If you are pregnant, have acidity issues or excessive bile humor, don’t take brinjal.
Honey is home to a great number vitamins and minerals that ultimately keep down the level of cholesterol. It contains antioxidants that prevent the absorption of cholesterol in blood by preventing it to move out into blood.
- Take a cup of hot water and add a teaspoon of honey.
- You can add ten drops of apple cider vinegar or a teaspoon of lemon juice. (optional)
- Stir well and drink this solution in the morning.
- It will remove excess fat and prevent production of new cholesterol.
- Take a cup of boiling water.
- Add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
- Keep it covered for half an hour.
- Strain the solution and add a teaspoon of honey to.
- Drink it the first thing in the morning, 30 minutes before you take your breakfast.
Some useful suggestions!
- If you are a smoker, quit smoking.
- If you are overweight, lose weight. Try to maintain a healthy weight.
- Get your body moving. Exercising regularly with a healthy eating plan can do wonders in improving your cholesterol profile. Walk for half an hour most days of week but do it.
- Take small meals the entire day rather than 3 big meals.
- Make sure you are taking a heart-healthy diet to lower cholesterol.
Along with these natural methods to lower your cholesterol, it is necessary that you keep a strong eye on your diet and maintain regular physical activity. If overweight people lose 2kg to 5kg, they can easily reduce their cholesterol levels. Don’t forget to take other little yet necessary measures to lower your cholesterol