So many of us are plagued with cholesterol problems and are often told that our LDL or “bad” cholesterol is too high. We need to get it down. There are medications that can do that but they sometimes come at a great cost, both physically (side effects) and financially (cost of drugs). Fortunately, there is another option. Do you know how to lower LDL Cholesterol naturally? It can be done. Read on to find out more.
You have all heard about Cholesterol, haven’t you?
Sure you have. Everybody knows of the importance of keeping your cholesterol numbers below 200. We hear it so often. But what really is this “cholesterol”?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in all the cells in your body. You need cholesterol to make your brain, skin and other organs do their job. It is necessary for making hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. The truth is that your liver makes all the cholesterol that your body needs so whenever you are consuming high cholesterol foods such as egg yolks, meat, cheese and other animal products you are actually providing the body with more cholesterol than it needs. Not a good idea at all.
Too much cholesterol in your blood can cause problems. It can combine with other substances in the blood to form plaque which sticks to the walls of your arteries. This buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis and it can lead to coronary artery disease, where your coronary arteries become narrow or even blocked.
If the clogging gets worse over many years, it can cause a heart attack or stroke in adults.
LDL Cholesterol – What is it?
Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called “lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol throughout the body:
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, or “bad cholesterol,” carries cholesterol from the liver into the bloodstream,
HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
LDL or Low density lipoprotein makes up most of your body’s cholesterol.
Why is it the bad guy?
It is considered the bad guy because as we said previously, this is the lipoprotein that carries the cholesterol from the liver into the blood stream where it can stick to the blood vessels.
A high LDL level over time leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. This results in the formation of plaque which can clog the arteries and make heart attacks and strokes more likely.
How do I know that my LDL is high?
You can find this out by doing a simple blood test.
LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL. For those of you who are not familiar with these units, the LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 2.59 mmol/L.
Levels of 100 to 129 mg/dL (or 2.59 to 3.34 mmol/L) are acceptable for people with no health issues but may be of more concern for those with heart disease or heart disease risk factors.
A reading of 130 to 159 mg/dL (or 3.36 to 4.11 mmol/L) is borderline high.
Levels of 160 to 189 mg/dL (4.14 to 4.89 mmol/L) is high.
A reading of 190 mg/dL (4.91 mmol/L) or higher is considered very high.
What are the health risk of high LDL Cholesterol
If you have a high LDL level, this means that you have too much LDL cholesterol in your blood. This extra LDL, along with other substances, forms plaque. The plaque builds up in your arteries and as we mentioned before, results in a condition called atherosclerosis.
A piece of the plaque can also break off and travel through the blood stream to smaller vessels causing complete blockage or if a plaque tears or ruptures, a blood clot can form at the site of the rupture, blocking the blood flow there. The clot may also break free and end up blocking an artery further down the blood stream.
If it blocks the blood flow to the heart, you will have a heart attack.
If the clot blocks blood flow to parts of your brain, you will have a stroke.
Your heart might not be getting enough oxygen because the build up of plaque has caused the arteries to become hardened and narrow and this slows down the blood flow. If the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle is reduced because of partial blockage, it can cause angina (chest pain).
Plaque also can build up in other arteries in your body, including the arteries that bring oxygen-rich blood to your limbs. This can lead to problems such as carotid artery disease and peripheral artery disease.
Are you afraid of Cholesterol lowering medication?
I would not be surprised if you were. After all, the side effects can be quite unpleasant.
The common drugs used for lowering cholesterol are from a group known as statins. There are many different brand names but all from the same group. Some of the medication prescribed by the doctor, although very effective, can have some serious side effects. There is also the matter of the costs related to these prescriptions although some of them are now available in the generic form (which cost much less).
Muscle pain and damage
One of the most common complaints of people taking cholesterol reducing statins is muscle pain. The pain can be a mild discomfort, or it can be severe enough to affect your daily activities.
Occasionally, people using statin will see an increase in the level of liver enzymes in the blood. This signals liver inflammation. The doctor may allow you to continue with the drug if the increase is not too high. However, if the increase in liver enzymes is high, the doctor will have to take you off that drug.
There are other side effects that may result from drug medication but all these side effects are removed altogether when you choose the natural way to lower your LDL cholesterol.
How to lower LDL cholesterol naturally
You must be prepared to decrease the practices that result in high LDL levels.
First you need to realize that there are certain factors that can affect your LDL level. Some you have control over and some you have absolutely no control over.
You have no control over:
Your age: As you get older, your cholesterol tends to rise
Your gender: Before the age of menopause, women have lower total cholesterol levels than men of the same age. After the age of menopause, women’s LDL levels tend to rise.
Genetics: Your genes partly determine how much cholesterol your body makes. High cholesterol can run in families. For example, familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an inherited form of high blood cholesterol.
Your race: Certain races may have an increased risk of high blood cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.
You definitely have control over:
Your diet: Saturated fat and other high cholesterol foods will cause LDL levels to rise in the blood
Your weight: Being overweight tends to increase your LDL cholesterol levels
Physical Activity: Lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain which can result in increase LDL level.
Practices to adopt
A healthy diet is a key factor in lowering LDL Cholesterol naturally. Here are some things you need to pay attention to.
Develop a Heart-healthy eating plan.
A heart-healthy eating plan limits the amount of saturated and trans fats that you eat.
If you want to reduce your intake of trans fats, you should:
- avoid products that list partially hydrogenated fat or oil on the label
- use fat-free or low-fat dairy products (if you can’t do without)
- try to eat fewer biscuits, cakes and pastries as these tend to be prepared using large amounts of trans fat.
- use liquid vegetable oil for frying at home instead of margarine
- limit fast foods and when eating out, try to eat fewer fried foods
Use Olive Oil
Use olive oil each day in place of other fats in your diet to get its heart-healthy benefits. Also, substitute olive oil for butter in your various food preparations. Extra virgin is best as the extraction process of the oil is the healthiest.
Eat lots of nuts
Studies have shown that nuts have powerful cholesterol-lowering effects.
Eating about a handful a day of most nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, is beneficial in reducing your risk of heart disease.
Increase the soluble fiber in your diet
Research shows that people who increase their soluble fiber intake by 5 to 10 grams daily have up to a 5 percent drop in “bad,” cholesterol.
Eating more plant food is the best way to increase fiber in the diet.
Eliminate cholesterol high foods from your diet
Last but definitely not least, if you want your LDL levels to go down, stop eating foods that are high in cholesterol. Cholesterol is found in animal products. If you change your diet to mainly plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes, you will go a long way in reducing your LDL cholesterol levels.
Lose excess weight
Studies show that losing as little as 5 – 10 pounds of excess weight can significantly lower your levels of cholesterol.
Regular exercise will help to improve your cholesterol levels. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 to 4 times per week. Combine aerobics and strength training for best results.
If you are one of the fortunate persons who do not have problems with high LDL cholesterol levels, you must do every thing in your power to prevent developing this condition.
The same healthy lifestyle changes that can lower your LDL cholesterol can help prevent you from having high LDL levels in the first place. So to help prevent high LDL cholesterol, you should:
- Eat a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Limit the amount of animal fats and use good fats in moderation
- Lose extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly 3 to 4 times per week for at least 30 minutes each time
Monitor your cholesterol levels regularly to ensure that your are within normal range and remember to consult your doctor for guidance before making decisions regarding your health.