Unhealthy cholesterol levels are among the most common age-related risk factors for heart disease. Though drugs can control cholesterol, improving your eating habits and exercise can protect your heart and vascular system from life-threatening risks.

Many studies have found that blood cholesterol levels depend mainly on a person’s diet, which is closely linked with cardiovascular issues.

The theory that the kind of foods you eat can increase or lower your risks for unhealthy cholesterol levels and related diseases was initially considered radical and controversial.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that your body uses mainly to produce hormones and strengthen the walls of the body’s cells. Your body needs some cholesterol for everyday functioning, but the amount your body uses is relatively small.

Different body parts, including your blood and brain, contain cholesterol. However, too much cholesterol in the blood causes problems—particularly LDL (low-density lipoprotein), which is also called “bad cholesterol. Too much LDL (bad cholesterol) in the arteries forms a fatty substance, which leads to atherosclerotic plaque. LDL, therefore, is the building block of arterial plaque.

Clogged arteries lead to heart-related diseases; the main two are—coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular disease. Both these two are among the top three causes of death worldwide. So much so these two conditions are responsible for more than one in four deaths. And controlling or lowering your blood cholesterol levels is an effective remedy to prevent these diseases. Experts say ideal cholesterol levels vary depending on a person’s sex, age, and health status. But optimally, you should aim for LDL cholesterol below 70 mg/dL.

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To manage your cholesterol levels and cardiovascular diseases, lifestyle and behavioral approaches are the first line of treatment. Though drugs can also help—and in some cases may be necessary they should be used after the first line of treatment doesn’t work.

How To Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally?

Read on here for the experts’ recommended most effective lifestyle changes that can help you lower your cholesterol levels:

# 1


What to eat to lower your cholesterol?

All experts agree that a proper diet tops the list for managing your cholesterol. The best practical approach is to follow a broad healthy eating pattern instead of specific micronutrients and optimal daily servings of this or that food group. That means limiting certain foods while focusing on others.

Healthy diet habits are not something to maintain for a month or torture you. Instead, it should be a purposeful change you can maintain your entire life.

(i) To achieve this, one of the most important changes you can make is incorporating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains into your meals. Many evidence-backed and effective cholesterol-lowering eating plans—such as the Mediterranean– focus on these foods.

(ii) The second necessary change is to reduce your intake of animal products—particularly red meat and processed dairy foods. Many studies have repeatedly reported that this change helps in improving cholesterol.

(iii) The third important thing is reducing saturated fat intake. You should aim to eliminate red meat, butter, and high-fat dairy foods as much as possible. If you can’t do that, then reduce their intake if you want to improve your cholesterol. Many Americans consume excessive saturated fats, from red meat, beef, and eggs to dairy products, with almost every meal. The Japanese have some of the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease in the world, and that possibly is because they eat much less saturated fat and red meat than Americans.

A workable option is to replace meat, butter, high-fat dairy, and other saturated fat sources with protein-rich soy-based products—from tofu to soy milk and yogurts. However, most people don’t relish soy products. But the fact is: soy is good for improving heart health and blood cholesterol levels.

Another non-vegetarian option is swapping fish and chicken for red meat and pork. Especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring are heart-healthy choices.

Note: Surprisingly, experts claim fish oil—a popular health supplement—is not a beneficial addition to your regimen. They say it does not reduce bad cholesterol – some prescription fish oil supplements may help decrease triglycerides. Therefore, doctors sometimes recommend them. But commercial fish oil supplements have been shown to be associated with an increased risk for abnormal heart rhythms and should be avoided.

(iv) The fourth important thing is that include plenty of fiber in your diet. This is something many people fail to do. Fiber can bind to dietary cholesterol and remove it from your body. We recommend aiming for 25 grams of soluble fiber a day. For this, you will need to eat plenty of whole vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, such as oatmeal or flaxseed. Supplements can also help you get there.

Helpful Article: 5 Best Ways To Increase Your Fiber Intake

Non-diet approaches to improve cholesterol

Though your prime focus should be reducing your LDL, improving your HDL cholesterol levels—called the “good” cholesterol—is also essential. This is because HDL sucks cholesterol from blood vessels like a vacuum.

Exercise is one effective way to boost your HDL levels. It can pump up your good cholesterol and also reduce triglycerides, another type of blood fat associated with cardiovascular problems.

There are some other ways to improve your cholesterol levels naturally. But focusing on changing your diet and exercise habits is what experts say matters most.

Helpful Post: How To Start Exercising If You Are A Beginner?

Don’t wait to start

Though the health issues linked with high cholesterol and clogged arteries usually don’t appear until a person’s 50s or 60s, the underlying plaque formation may start decades earlier—in some cases, even during a person’s 20s.

Studies have shown that taking steps to reduce your cholesterol earlier in life before the plaque formation gains momentum could lower cardiovascular disease risk three-fold than procrastinating these healthy changes until middle age. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported in 2012 that an effective primary prevention strategy is to follow a healthy diet and regular exercise regime starting early in life.

Even if you are late to begin early, the most important thing is to start. Changing diet and lifestyle to reduce cholesterol can, for instance, help those who have heart disease or already taking cholesterol-lowering medicines. This will help them prevent from taking stronger drugs and the side effects the medication may cause, like joint pain and muscle spasms, or from having to increase the dose.



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About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. HeJust Fitness Hub passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says,” Age is just a number!”

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