High cholesterol is defined as having total cholesterol of 240 mg/dL and above. More than 16% of Americans have high cholesterol, which is approximately one in every six adults. High cholesterol doubles your risk of heart disease. The average cholesterol level for adult Americans is 200 mg/dL which is borderline high risk. Women in the United States suffer from high cholesterol more so than men.
The dangers of high cholesterol include: narrowing of the arteries due to the build-up of plaque along the walls of the arteries known as atherosclerosis, chest pain or angina, decreased flow of blood to the heart and brain which can result in a heart attack or stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure. Here are four natural ways to help lower cholesterol levels, and if implemented early, maybe even prevent high cholesterol.
The first step you can take to help lower your cholesterol is diet modification. By rejecting foods that are high in cholesterol, Trans fats and saturated fats you are taking a giant leap towards improving your cholesterol levels. The foods that you may be consuming now that you will want to remove from your diet include: fatty cuts of meat, organ meats, fast foods, fried foods, butter, margarine, eggs, commercially baked goods, snack foods, whole fat dairy products, pastries and processed foods. If there are ingredients on the label that you can’t pronounce, don’t eat it.
Lean poultry, lean pork or lean cuts of beef are great foods to eat to lower your cholesterol; but remember to remove all visible fat. To add flavor you can season your meats with extra virgin olive oil or coconut which are very healthy fats and balsamic vinegar. Fresh fruits and vegetables can pinch hit for a fat laden salad covered in fatty oily salad dressings, eggs, cheese, bacon bits and croutons. Foods made from whole grains should also be a part of your cholesterol lowering diet. You can enjoy whole grain breads and crackers, brown or wild rice, quinoa and barley as well as whole grain pastas.
Need a fat fix, try salmon, mackerel or any fatty fish. Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids which help to lower cholesterol levels and are a healthy alternative to fatty cuts of beef or chicken. Don’t like fish? How about pistachios, almonds or walnuts? Theses nuts also provide healthy fats and add flavor to salads, oatmeal or eaten as a snack on their own. Keep in mind that nuts are nutritious when they aren’t covered in salt or sugar. If you love eggs, try a cholesterol free egg substitute.
Secondly, stop smoking. Tobacco products lower your HDL levels. HDL is often referred to as the good cholesterol because it helps to sweep away LDL cholesterol that has accumulated on the walls of the arteries. This natural cleansing of the artery walls is negatively impacted when you consume tobacco products.
Third on this list is exercise. I think this is the most enjoyable of all the steps for lowering your cholesterol. You don’t need to join a gym, you don’t need to work out until you puke, you don’t need to invest in a home gym, although I bet after a few months of consistent exercise you might discover you have added a few fitness items to your home. To start try a brisk 30 minute walk or a relaxing yoga class? You say you can’t do 30 minutes? Then walk to the corner and back. Really, the hardest part about exercise is to just get up and get moving. Consistent exercise helps to raise your HDL levels, elevate your mood and slim down your body.
Stress alone does not contribute to high cholesterol; it is the actions we often take when we are under stress that can be destructive to our health. Studies have shown that the onset of stress will often cause us to reach for comfort foods, alcoholic drinks and tobacco. By getting our stress under control we will be able to keep our lifestyle choices under control. Yoga, meditation and a simple walk can do wonders to help alleviate stress.
In America today, high cholesterol has reached epidemic proportions. This disease will often go undetected until it has caused another health issue which prompts the individual to visit their physician. Addressing high cholesterol before it becomes a problem is the best way to tackle this disease. We can decrease our risk of developing high cholesterol by making a few simple lifestyle changes.
Brandon is a personal trainer who has seen the hardships high cholesterol can cause. If you are interested in learning how to naturally lower your cholesterol please visit Lower Cholesterol With Diet.