For the proper functioning of your body, you require cholesterol – it’s needed to produce cell membranes, certain hormones, and vitamin D, among much else. In other words—it’s really important! However, as with all things health-related, balance is key.
Consistently high cholesterol levels lead to the deposition of fats in your blood vessels, known as plaques, leading to a serious condition known as atherosclerosis. Eventually, the blood vessels will become hardened and narrowed, restricting blood flow and increasing the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.
Natural Cholesterol Management
Fortunately, making some simple changes to the food you eat can help lower the level of cholesterol in your body. Here is some advice for managing high cholesterol using dietary changes:
1. Eating more soy products
Try to add more soy proteins to your diet – this has been shown to significantly reduce cholesterol levels in many studies. Consumption of food made from soy products such as soybeans, soy milk, soy sauce, and soy nuts helps to lower cholesterol levels. Additionally, soy is a good source of protein, heart-healthy omega 3s, and fiber.
Consider having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast every day. Oatmeal is highly recommended to reduce high cholesterol levels. Oats contain beta-glucan fiber, which is effective in lowering cholesterol levels in your body. Beta-glucan increases the excretion process of cholesterol-rich bile, and as a result, the level of cholesterol in the blood is reduced.
Also, oats have an antioxidant component that works with vitamin C to prevent oxidation of cholesterol, which produces inflammation in arteries and causes damage to blood tissues.
Taking around 3 grams of soluble fiber a day will help in reducing your high levels of cholesterol, according to a 2017 study. The soluble supplements can be obtained from beans, lentils, flax seeds, chia seeds, and other high fiber multigrain clusters.
The soluble fiber moves through your digestive system, binding to cholesterol and preventing it from entering the bloodstream. Instead, the cholesterol is transported to the liver, where it is readied for excretion from the body.
4. Vegetable oil
Consider using liquid vegetable oils like sunflower and canola in place of butter when you are cooking. All types of vegetable oils contain chemicals called phytosterols that block the intestines from cholesterol absorption.
5. Take plant sterol and stanol supplements
Consuming just 2 grams of sterols and stanol extracted from plants every day can positively affect cholesterol levels. The sterol compound will help in blocking your body from cholesterol absorption. Many companies today are adding these components into various products, including margarine and chocolates.
6. Eat fish rich in Omega-3 fats
Try to eat fish at least two times a week. Regular consumption of fish protects your heart from inflammation and blood clots caused by excess cholesterol. What’s more, fish delivers omega-3 fat that reduces triglycerides obtained from cholesterol in your blood. Fish containing omega-3 include salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
7. Cook with herbs and spices
When preparing meals, use herbs and spices to add flavor instead of salt. Herbs and spices contain nutritional values such as vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. For effective cholesterol reduction, try using ginger, garlic, or turmeric.
8. Consume fruits and vegetables
Ensure that you eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in your body, as well as many other health benefits.
9. Eat less added sugar
Ensure that you consume less added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends a daily sugar intake of not more than six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men. To meet this goal, carefully choose products that have less or no added sugars.
Importance of tracking levels with your doctor
It is important to have your cholesterol levels regularly checked by your doctor, normally every four to six years for adults. If your cholesterol is high, the doctor will recommend eating a healthy diet and enjoying an active lifestyle as a priority. If your cholesterol levels are particularly high or you have underlying health issues, then your doctor may also prescribe medication to combat the condition.
High levels of cholesterol have been linked to many cardiovascular diseases. However, dietary changes can play a significant role in managing cholesterol levels. To fight back against high cholesterol and manage your health, make sure that you adhere to any dietary changes recommended by your doctor.