Cholesterol is a fatty substance that the body uses to metabolize fat soluble vitamins. It is essential for good health, and it is present in cell walls throughout the whole body.
Your body is able to manufacture sufficient amounts of cholesterol in the liver, but cholesterol is also consumed from animal fats and other fatty foods. If too many of those fats are produced or consumed, then the cholesterol levels can become dangerously high.
Many people needlessly suffer from complications brought on by high cholesterol levels. Prescription medications not only just mask the symptoms, but they can create a whole lot of other problems as well. Therefore finding ways to lower high cholesterol levels naturally is ideal. All it takes is a few lifestyle and dietary changes and you are well on your way to better health.
Eliminate Certain Foods
The first step that you need to take is to start eliminating certain foods that caused your cholesterol levels to rise in the first place. These are foods that are high in saturated fats such as red meat and other meats, dairy and dairy products, eggs, fried foods and many processed foods.
Consume Plenty of Soluble Fiber
Consuming lots of foods high in soluble fiber can help to lower high cholesterol levels dramatically. The fiber slows down the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines by locking onto it and eliminating it from the body.
Soluble fiber is found in foods such as apples, pears, apricots, oranges, peaches, plums, prunes, berries, carrots, brussels sprouts, corn, parsnips, potatoes, zucchini, legumes and oats.
Consume Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids
Foods that are high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids can also help to lower the cholesterol levels. Those fatty acids can be found in avocados and nuts and seeds such as flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts.
Plant Sterols and Plant Stanols
Plant sterols and plant stanols help to lower high cholesterol in the same way that prescription drugs do, only they do not have any side effects. They work together to prevent cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestines.
The plant sterols and stanols cannot be produced by the body, and thus they need to be ingested through foods. The best foods to obtain them from is from legumes such as dried beans, lentils and dried peas, oats, brown rice, and from fresh fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds.
Foods High in Niacin
Niacin is a B vitamin that is often used in high amounts to treat high cholesterol problems. Prescription niacin can have negative side effects, and therefore should never be taken without the consent of a doctor.
However, niacin can also be found in low dosages in plant-based foods, which are safe to consume in moderation. These foods include almonds, cashews, flax seeds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, beans, mushrooms, wheat products, rice bran, spinach, kale, carrots, turnips, celery, broccoli, asparagus and peppers.
Avoid Cigarettes and Alcohol
Alcohol in moderation does not affect cholesterol levels, but when it is consumed in large amounts it raises the triglyceride levels, which then contributes to high cholesterol.
Cigarette smoke has also been shown to affect cholesterol levels, and thus it should be avoided.
Engage in Regular Exercise
Getting a moderate amount of exercise can also help to lower cholesterol levels. Studies show that those who do not engage in exercise have much higher levels of cholesterol than those who exercise regularly.
Walking, running, biking, swimming or any other type of exercise that gets the heart rate up will help to reduce cholesterol.
Reduce or Eliminate Stress
Stress alone may not contribute directly to high cholesterol levels. But, it can cause you to crave for sugary and fatty foods, which in turn can contribute to high cholesterol levels.
Getting plenty of sleep, meditating, yoga and eating a healthy diet are effective ways to reduce stress.
Not dealing with high cholesterol levels can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, poor circulation and many serious heart conditions.