Believe it or not, our bodies need some cholesterol in order to build healthy cells. There are two types of cholesterol: LDL, or bad cholesterol, which can lead to all sorts of cardiovascular health issues; and HDL, or good cholesterol, which can remove the bad. High cholesterol means that you have a lot of the former and not enough of the latter, but there are plenty of natural ways to lower cholesterol and get your body back to a healthy homeostasis.
High cholesterol is a serious medical condition and one that should be diagnosed and treated by a licensed medical professional. Therefore, it’s important to note that natural remedies such as the ones listed below are not meant to be a replacement for actual medical care. Please consult your doctor before adopting any of the dietary changes or suggestions you are about to read, especially if you are already taking medication to lower your cholesterol.
Here are a few natural remedies that may help get your cholesterol levels under control:
Following a plant-based diet
According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), people who follow plant-based diets tend to have better cholesterol than those who consume meat, dairy, eggs, or fish. This evidence is based on a study published by the Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It found that not only were vegan participants’ LDL cholesterol levels lower, they also had a healthier body weight overall as compared to the other participants.
Eating more soluble fiber
If you already have high cholesterol, simply switching to a plant-based diet can significantly impact your levels of bad cholesterol, according to several studies reported by Medical XPress. This is due to the fact that vegan diets tend to be higher in soluble fiber, which slows the production of cholesterol in the liver, according to PCRM. Plant-based diets also do not include any cholesterol, as the only foods that contain cholesterol are animal products.
You can incorporate more soluble fiber into your diet by eating more oatmeal, avocados, bananas, lentils, berries, or chickpeas.
Eating more "good fats"
When we say good fat, we're talking about monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Foods such as olives, olive oil, avocados, as well as tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and cashews all contain these types of good fat. According to Healthline, monounsaturated fats reduce LDL levels while increasing HDL to heart-healthy levels. These fats also clear arteries of the plaque created by excess LDL cholesterol.
According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the easiest things you can do to lower your bad cholesterol is to get more exercise. Even moderate physical activity five times a week can do wonders for your cholesterol problems. Try taking a half-hour walk, a short bike ride, or doing a bit of low-impact yoga once a day. Exercise won’t eliminate any LDL, but it will raise your HDL levels so that it can do that job on its own.
Losing weight, if your doctor says you need to
Shedding a few unwanted pounds can have a positive impact on your cholesterol levels — as long as your doctor concurs, and says losing some weight would be healthy for you. The Cleveland Clinic suggests that losing around 10 or 20 pounds can decrease your LDL levels and get your HDL levels up and working. Make sure to work with your physician or a registered dietitian if you are going to go this route.
Avoiding trans fats
Above all else, do your best to avoid trans fats whenever you can. Sure, we all love a pile of french fries now and again, but these delectable deviants are far from diet-friendly. According to Health Partners Plans, the best way to avoid trans fats, besides the obvious trick of not getting anything deep-fried, of course, is to read labels. Anything containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil is likely to contain trans fats, which reduce HDL cholesterol and raise your levels of LDL.