Cholesterol is a needed substance that is produced in the liver to help build cells and produce valuable vitamins and several different hormones within the human body. This means that cholesterol is a natural part of your bodies functioning system. The human body is designed to create as much cholesterol as it needs. The problem is that humans consume animal products that cause the liver to create more cholesterol than the body needs which ends up causing issues within the body.
Cholesterol needs lipoproteins to be carried through the body. When low-density lipoproteins (LDL) are high it causes cholesterol to deposit in the blood vessels which can lead to a variety of health issues such as a stroke or heart attack. In contrast, high-density lipoproteins (HDL) carry cholesterol away from the vessel walls preventing these health issues from occurring. This is why you want to lower your LDL numbers and increase your HDL numbers.
What You Eat Matters
A dietary approach is one of the first things one can consider when it comes to lowering cholesterol. Eating foods that help lower LDL will help to achieve this goal. Foods that help lower LDL are:
Fibrous Foods – Fibrous foods like oat bran, flaxseed, apples, lentils, beans, nuts and citrus fruits can be effective in lowering LDL cholesterol numbers, especially when used to replace high saturated fatty foods.
Omegas – Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to help lower LDL’s because they slow the rate at which the liver produces triglycerides. Fatty omegas have an anti-inflammatory effect decreasing the growth of plaque on the arterial walls. Salmon, tuna, flaxseed and walnuts are some foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Stay Away From Trans Fats – Partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils are man-made oils that are high in trans fatty acids which are known to increase LDL cholesterol. They also lower the good HDL cholesterol that helps to protect the heart. Trans fats also increase inflammatory responses in the body.
Taking Herbal Supplements
Fiber Supplements – Though it’s important to eat fiber from natural food sources, fiber supplements can be used to support your regular diet. Types of fiber supplements are wheat dextrin, calcium polycarbophil psyllium and methylcellulose.
Whey Protein – This supplement is often found in protein drinks or powders but you can get it by itself in order to avoid unnecessary ingredients. Products that are NSF, Sport, or Informed-Choice certified offer the best quality whey protein as they have been tested for purity.
Garlic – Garlic is a natural remedy used to support the human body from a variety of ailments. Unfortunately, it is noted that garlic supplements can prolong bleeding and blood clotting time so it’s best to talk to a physician before taking them. They have, however, been shown to drop cholesterol by a few points.
Guggulipid – This supplement comes from the Mukul myrrh tree as a gum resin. It’s been used in traditional medicine for over 2,000 years but does not meet the criteria for scientific validity.
Policosanol – Policosanol extracted from sugar cane has shown to be effective in lowering LDL
A Consistent Exercise Routine
A consistent exercise routine will not only help you to get in shape, it also helps to reduce LDL levels and increase HDL levels. The American Heart Association suggests two and half hours of regular moderate exercise is enough to lower LDL cholesterol levels, however, exercising for longer periods of time with increased activity will only have greater benefits in managing cholesterol levels. As a general rule of thumb, activity that causes the heart rate to elevate to 85% of its capacity can increase HDL and decrease LDL.
NW functional Medicine Partners, in Vancouver Washington, uses functional medicine that focuses on finding the root cause of disease so they can develop a treatment plan based on the individual allowing for care to be personalized and effective.