How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally

Make Lifestyle Changes for a Healthy Heart

One of the most common health issues discovered during regular physical exams is a high cholesterol number that can lead to heart disease and stroke. Although there are medications that can lower this number, many people opt to go the natural route. This may involve some significant life changes in diet and activity levels, so before you start, consult your physician.

Diet Changes

Large amounts of animal-based products, particularly those with high fat content may lead to high cholesterol. Reduce your consumption, and you may notice that not only do your numbers drop you start to feel better and have more energy. You don’t have to totally eliminate all red meat, but you should cut back on fatty meats. Instead, look for leaner cuts of meat and avoid those with large amounts of marbling.

Eat more fish. Some of the best bets to help lower your cholesterol include salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. Three servings per week can make a significant difference in your heart health. 

Increase the amount of fiber you eat. Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet each day for high fiber, low calorie nutrition. Eat whole grains, such as oats, wheat, barley, flax meal, and psyllium. Add nutritious beans and nuts to your daily meals for additional fiber and protein without the fat. 

Soy products are known for helping lower the LDL cholesterol, also known as low density lipoproteins or bad cholesterol. Some soy products you may enjoy include soy milk, soy nuts, soy yogurt, tofu, edamame, tempeh, and soy burgers. Most grocery stores and health food stores carry a wide selection of soy products.

Add phytosterols, which are found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, to your diet. These plant compounds can be taken as supplements, but they can also be found in foods such as Smart Balance margarine, Benecol, salad dressings, Heart Wise Minute Maid orange juice, CocoVia chocolate, and other heart-healthy products.

Small changes each day can add up to some significant benefits. Here are some Diet tips to lower your cholesterol:

  • • Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with a tablespoon of flax meal and 1/4 cup of blueberries for breakfast.
  • • For your mid-morning snack, indulge in an apple and a stick of low-fat cheese.
  • • Lunch can be a sandwich made with whole grain bread or a salad packed with a variety of colorful vegetables.
  • • Snack on a bowl of popcorn and a cup of grapes in the afternoon.
  • • Before dinner, have another salad or a bowl of vegetable soup. This will help decrease your appetite and prevent you from overeating unhealthy fats.

Increase Activity

Exercise is essential to an overall healthy lifestyle, and it is particularly important for your heart. You may want to join a gym where you can work with a certified fitness trainer, or you can work out on your own. One of the best exercises for your heart is a brisk walk, bike ride, or swim. Try to work out at least half an hour per day. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to all be at once. You can break it into fifteen-minute segments, as long as you get your heart rate up and keep moving.

Another benefit to increasing your activity is that you will likely lose weight. If you lose as little as five percent of your body fat, you may see your cholesterol numbers drop. Set goals, but make sure they are doable. 

Quit Smoking

If you quit smoking, you may be able to increase your HDL, also known as high-density lipoproteins or good cholesterol, numbers. This, in turn will improve your overall cholesterol ratio. After you quit smoking, you will feel much better and have more energy. The long-term effect of not smoking is that your lungs will return to normal, and you will cut your risk of heart disease significantly.