Taking care of your health and well-being is a lifelong journey that ebbs and flows constantly. Nowadays, there are more ways than ever to find accessible, personalised healthcare and resources to help you live your best life. In spite of that, it can sometimes feel like the options are overwhelming, and it can be hard to go back to basics and understand the essentials your body really needs to stay strong, nourished and healthy.
High cholesterol is one of the most common chronic ailments Americans face. Doctors often recommend a healthy diet, consistent exercise and occasionally a prescription medication to help regulate cholesterol levels. However, there are also plenty of natural supplements to lower cholesterol that you may want to consider if you’re looking to take a more holistic approach to your wellness.
It’s also important to note that all cholesterol is not bad – in fact, getting enough of the “right” kind of cholesterol is just as important to your health as minimizing the “bad” kind. As with anything else in life, it’s all about balance and being patient when figuring out what your body needs and what will work best for you.
When it comes to finding the right supplements for you, it’s important to take some time to research the specific benefits and ingredients that influence cholesterol levels and should be monitored when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Here are a few ways to naturally lower your cholesterol (be sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any new supplement or healthcare regimen):
More good food, less filler food
It’s no secret that diet makes a huge impact on your cholesterol levels. Committing to a healthier diet can have a positive impact on pretty much all aspects of your health, and this means cutting out more unhealthy foods while increasing the number of healthy foods you’re consuming.
Saturated fats raise cholesterol and are primarily found in red meats and dairy products that are full-fat (versus 1%, skim, etc.). These fats influence LDL levels, which can sway cholesterol for better or for worse.
Trans fats are another thing to limit as you’re looking to lower your cholesterol naturally. These fats are often used in foods that contain preservatives and sugars, such as margarine and store-bought cookies, cakes and crackers.
On the other hand, increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fibre and whey protein will help lower and regulate your cholesterol levels over time. These things can also help reduce blood pressure and reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Taking Omega-3 pills and adding whey protein into your breakfast are great ways to increase the amount of these things you’re naturally consuming.
Other foods that lower cholesterol includes oats, barley, beans, nuts, apples, grapes and eggplant. It’s also important to ensure you’re getting plenty of soluble fibres in your diet, which can be found in foods like oranges, pears, peaches, asparagus, potatoes, whole wheat bread and kidney beans.
Change your cooking routines
A lot of people don’t consider how many cholesterol-packed ingredients and factors go into the preparatory stages of cooking. For example, trimming the fat off your meats and sticking with healthier oils (such as olive oil, sunflower oil or grapeseed oil) instead of butter or margarine can have a significant impact on the amount of bad cholesterol and trans fats you’re consuming.
Exercise to increase “good” cholesterol
When it comes to regulating your cholesterol, there are two numbers you need to keep in mind: your LDL levels and your HDL levels. Experts recommend focusing first and foremost on lowering your LDL levels; however, improving your HDL levels is also extremely important. These HDL levels have the ability to increase your “good cholesterol” and lower triglycerides, which is a type of blood fat that is often linked to those with cardiovascular problems.
Exercise is a great way to elevate your HDL levels – but did you know that there are specific exercises that are more effective than others? Experts say yoga is an exceptional way to elevate HDL naturally, though there are still ongoing studies being done on exactly why this is and what other types of exercise are equally or more effective.
Herbs and supplements
Before taking any herbs or supplements, it’s important to note that an extra capsule in the morning isn’t necessarily going to completely solve your high cholesterol all on its own. If you choose to proceed with taking any herbs or supplements to lower your cholesterol (after talking with your doctor, of course), be sure you’re coupling that with a healthy diet and regular exercise as much as possible.
That said, herbs that are known to help reduce bad cholesterol include artichoke leaf and garlic. When it comes to supplements, ask your doctor about upping your dosage of niacin (a form of Vitamin B3), policosanol, coenzyme Q10, and psyllium.
Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.