High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease and strokes. Doctors prescribe various types of cholesterol reducing medication to patients with high total cholesterol. Learning how to lower cholesterol without medication is an essential part of an active lifestyle and a healthy diet.
Why do we need cholesterol?
The human body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to use as a building block when building hormones and cell membranes. The body produces its own cholesterol in the liver. It can also be absorbed in the intestines from the food we consume.
Foods that are bad for high cholesterol
The meat and milk that come from animals contain saturated fat and cholesterol. Plant foods rarely contain a lot of saturated fat or cholesterol. Therefore a healthy diet should contain as little animal products as possible. Red meat, cheese, butter and ice cream are popular examples of products that are not good for your cholesterol profile. You can eat lean meat and low-fat milk products, but it just does not taste the same.
Baked goods like cakes, biscuits and fast food contain hydrogenated fatty acids. These fats are bad for your cholesterol levels and you should not eat products that contain trans fatty acids.
Foods that are good for high cholesterol
Foods that contain unsaturated fats can have a positive effect on total cholesterol levels. You can include fish such as salmon, herring and sardines which contain polyunsaturated fatty acids. You can eat a handful of nuts like almonds and cashews between meals. Sunflower, olive and canola vegetable oils are good to use. Watch out for coconut oil. It has a high amount of saturated fat.
Soluble fibre is sometimes recommended as part of a low cholesterol diet. Lentils, beans, oats and peas contain more soluble fibre than other products. You can consume enough fibre by eating fruits and vegetables every day.
Regular exercise is good for high cholesterol
Changing your diet is not enough to lower your cholesterol to a normal level. Regular exercise can help to cut high cholesterol even further. If you are not an active person or you work at a desk most of the day, then exercise is very important. Aerobic exercises such as walking, sprinting and cycling are good exercises to do. Sports like tennis, swimming or martial arts are also valid ways to get exercise. The basic idea is to increase your heart rate for short periods of time and to breathe deeper and faster.
You can learn how to lower high cholesterol without medication if you put in the effort to change your diet and your level of physical activity. Statin drugs are a short-term therapy, but a healthy diet and active lifestyle is a long-term solution for high cholesterol levels.