Delicious Ways to Reduce Cholesterol Without Drugs
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance present in the cell membranes of body tissues and is carried in the blood plasma. It is a sterol (alcohol and steroid combination) also called atherosclerotic plaque. The body requires cholesterol to form and sustain cell membranes, help with bile production, and aid the metabolism of fat-soluble vitamins.
Over time cholesterol builds up on the artery walls, a condition called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis was thought to be an affliction of the elderly until the 1950s. When American pathologists were sent to Korea by the Pentagon to study the bodies of soldiers who died during the conflict, they autopsied around 2000 soldiers and found that approximately 75% had waxy, yellow deposits on the walls of their arteries; a shocking statistic considering the average age of the soldiers was 21. Their findings astonished the scientific community highlighting the onset of heart disease in the very young.
LDL and HDL Cholesterol
There are two different types of cholesterol; low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). HDL is commonly known as 'good' cholesterol, and LDL is recognized as 'bad' cholesterol. LDL has been markedly linked with heart disease, whereas HDL is thought to reduce the chance of a heart attack. It has been estimated that approximately 25% of Americans are at risk from heart disease due to atherosclerosis, and around 10% have such high levels that doctors have no choice but to prescribe cholesterol-reducing drugs.
Foods that Lower LDL Cholesterol
Many foods are believed to significantly lower LDL cholesterol. Fiber-rich foods are said to be particularly beneficial. Fiber will lower 'bad' cholesterol and help the bowel function properly, reducing the risk of colon and bowel cancer. Many other foods can help the body fight back against these dangerous deposits.
Some Fiber-rich foods are oat bran, barley, and wheat bran. They can be eaten as a cereal for breakfast and sprinkled onto other foods. Pearl barley can be added to soups. Apples and pears also have considerable amounts of soluble fiber and should be enjoyed daily.
Beans, Peas & Lentils (Pulses) are high in fiber and low-fat. They also contain lecithin, a nutrient that lowers cholesterol. Try to incorporate kidney, fava, borlotti, and other dried whole foods into your diet; many different types of lentils and peas are delicious in soups and stews.
Avocado contains prolific amounts of monounsaturated fat, which helps to reduce LDL cholesterol and has many other health benefits, including anti-cancer properties.
Raw carrots are rich in a fiber called pectin, renowned for minimizing cholesterol. Many fruits also contain pectin, including; apples, citrus fruits, strawberries, raspberries, and other red or blackberries
Shitake mushrooms are widely used by the Japanese and include a compound called lentinan, which not only lowers cholesterol but is also thought to be anti-cancerous and may help to boost the immune system
Garlic is a superfood and is well known for its blood-thinning properties. It also contains the substance allicin, which is thought to prevent the body from retaining LDL cholesterol. Research has shown that the equivalent of one clove per day can lessen 'bad' cholesterol by 10-15% in most people.
Root ginger has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries and has numerous health benefits. It can be added to stir-fry (using healthy sesame oil) and other vegetable dishes, or it can be used to create delicious ginger tea.
Nuts are naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids and are known to reduce blood cholesterol significantly; walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and almonds are especially beneficial
Sesame seeds are rich in phytosterols. These compounds are said to lessen LDL cholesterol substantially. Other foods containing phytosterols include; celery, lettuce, asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, ginger, squash, and strawberries.
Safflower, canola, soybean, and olive oil are monounsaturated oils and are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Research indicates that they can decrease atherosclerotic plaque by up to 15% when eaten regularly.
Salmon, tuna, sardines & mackerel contain considerable amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which have many health benefits and are essential for brain and eye function.
Prunes are an excellent source of antioxidants and fiber, known to reduce LDL cholesterol.
Alfalfa sprouts contain saponin, a substance thought to obstruct and inhibit atherosclerotic plaque formation in the arteries.
Lifestyle changes that can help improve your cholesterol levels
Exercise regularly; even riding a bike to work, walking the stairs, or taking a brisk walk can help raise good cholesterol.
Lose weight; losing only 10% of body weight can help reduce cholesterol levels.
Quit smoking; quitting smoking improves your good cholesterol levels. It lowers the risk of heart disease and heart attack within one year of quitting smoking.
Eat healthy foods; eat omega-3 rich food, avoid saturated fats, include more fish, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. Eat more soluble fiber and whey protein. Avoid fast food and between-meal snacks.
Lower alcohol consumption; it is recommended for men to have two drinks a day and women to have only one drink daily. If you do not drink alcohol, it is not recommended for you to start drinking.
Why you should try the natural way
Medications used to manage high cholesterol levels are called statins.
Side effects vary between different statins, but the most common ones are:
- Digestive problems, including diarrhea, constipation, indigestion
- Muscle pain
- Low blood platelet count
- Feeling unusually tired
- Problems with sleep
Statin use may lead to more side effects and conditions like pancreatitis, hepatitis, skin problems, diabetes type 2, erectile dysfunction, etc. If you are at risk of developing these conditions, you should avoid taking these medications by lifestyle and dietary changes. Talk to your healthcare provider about the natural approach.
Suppose you have high cholesterol or a family tendency towards atherosclerosis. In that case, it is best to avoid processed and prepared foods, fried food, food containing animal fats or animal products, high-fat dairy products, and food containing either saturated fat or trans fats. Research has revealed the key to lowering LDL cholesterol is a healthy, balanced diet that incorporates plenty of soluble fiber and at least five portions of fruit or vegetables a day. Combined with regular cardiovascular exercise, these dietary changes should help keep the heart healthy and provide numerous other health benefits.