11 Sep Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol: Top Foods, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Diet
Your diet in general will greatly influence your cholesterol levels, but I will talk more about that shortly. First, I want to alert you to exciting research regarding specific foods that have demonstrated cholesterol lowering properties. If you eat enough of these foods, you might solve your high cholesterol problem without any other interventions. Here are four of the top cholesterol lowering foods:
A Research study published in 2008 found that pigs experienced a significant reduction in cholesterol when fed a diet containing an amount of blueberries equivalent to only two cups in humans. A two percent blueberry diet brought LDL cholesterol levels down by 15 percent.
Recent research from Florida State University shows that eating apples may lower levels of bad cholesterol and improve levels of good cholesterol in postmenopausal women without causing weight gain. What the researchers discovered astounded them. Women who ate dried apples for the year lowered their total cholesterol by 14 percent and lowered their “bad” LDL cholesterol by 23 percent.
3. Almonds and other nuts
Two handfuls of almonds a day for a month lowered study participants’ LDL cholesterol by an average of 9.4 percent and their total cholesterol by 12 percent.
A 2010 study out of Australia suggests that adding tomato paste or tomato juice to the daily diet of study participates produced enough of the antioxidant ‘lycopene’ to lower bad cholesterol and high blood pressure levels just as effectively as statins, but without the potentially harmful side effects. Eating just one tomato a day would not be enough according to Dr Karin Ried, of the University of Adelaide, one of the study’s authors. Dr Ried said: “I would really recommend looking at tomato paste. It is very rich in lycopene and it is not difficult to get 50 grams a day in pasta or on a pizza or as a drink.”
Many other specific kinds of food have been the subject of scientific studies proving their unique ability to lower cholesterol levels, but these four are among the best.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Nearly 900 human clinical trials have studied fish oil and over 7000 reports have been written. Their conclusion? The omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil are remarkably effective in reducing triglyceride levels by as much as 25% to 30% and in general helping to prevent cardiovascular disease. The omega-3 fat is simply an essential nutrient that our body needs on a daily basis, and thus fish oil supplementation should be a foundational component of a good cholesterol control program. However for most people, it should also be an essential part of their overall wellness program since its therapeutic benefits are so extensive. Fish oil owes much of its value to the fact that it is a marvelous anti-inflammatory and thus it moderates one of the fundamental underlying causes of high cholesterol.
Turmeric, the Indian spice that gives curry its golden color may not be the first nutritional supplement that comes to mind when looking for cholesterol health – but it probably should be. Extensive research is revealing a broad range of therapeutic effects this spice has on health. Turmeric acts so powerfully as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it is thought to be beneficial in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease – the big three dreaded diseases in the North America. And remember that cholesterol problems occur when the body becomes chronically inflamed and thus the liver pumps out cholesterol to help douse the flame. And the real heart disease begins to occur when the LDL “bad” cholesterol oxidizes and forms plaque on the artery walls. Thus turmeric modulates both underlying causes of high cholesterol. It’s hard for the average person to get enough turmeric from their diet alone, but turmeric supplements are readily available. Turmeric in supplement form is difficult for the human body to absorb and assimilate so look for the more recent preparations of turmeric that have enhanced bioavailability.
Do you believe your cholesterol levels are mainly caused by how much cholesterol is in the foods you eat? The truth is that the majority of cholesterol floating around in your bloodstream is from that produced by the liver, not from the amount contained in the food you have just eaten. So the key is to understand what foods stimulate the liver to excessive production of cholesterol. The answer is that the real cause of heart disease is the quality of your overall diet –that is, the type of carbohydrate is important and the type of fat is important. The underlying cause of most diseases of aging including heart disease is chronic inflammation in the body, and this chronic inflammation is largely determined by how well your body controls blood sugar and insulin levels. Excessive levels of insulin are highly inflammatory and are caused in part by a diet that is excessive in high glycemic foods (those that cause your blood sugar to spike up rapidly). So any effort to use natural strategies to control high cholesterol levels will include cutting back on the high glycemic foods – bread and flour products, cereals and refined grains, fried foods, sodas, processed foods that come in a box, fast foods that come in a sack, etc.
If there ever was a silver bullet or magic pill in overall health promotion, regular exercise would have to be it. Lowering cholesterol levels is no exception. Regular physical activity boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol while decreasing triglycerides. So get with your spouse or friend or work associate and get moving. Walking is one of the most effective and safe forms of exercise for many people. But you choose what works for you and stick with it.
So there you have it – Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol! I hope these tips have been helpful to you and will change your life for the better!
If you or someone you know has risk factors for heart disease or elevated cholesterol, feel free to drop me a line on the “contact us” page on this site. I treat patients locally at my Naturopathic practice in Vancouver, B.C. and worldwide via phone or Skype.
To your best health!
Dr Tasnim Adatya
Naturopathic Physician, Menopause Clinician, Acupuncturist, and Health Educator
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