Has your Doctor advised you that you need to lower cholesterol?
High cholesterol is extremely common in developed countries around the world. It is part of a very common negative health picture called Metabolic Syndrome. To Find out what causes metabolic syndrome and how it can be prevented in another article click here
Having high cholesterol causes your body to have some negative health effects and can lead to a narrowing of the arteries by fatty plaque deposits (known as atherosclerosis). Having these fatty plaques in your body may increase your risk of having a heart attack and/or stroke, therefore it is important to have regular cholesterol checks to assess your cholesterol levels.
The prevalence of elevated total cholesterol is highest in the World Health Organization Region of Europe (54% for both sexes), followed by the WHO Region of the Americas (48% for both sexes). The WHO African Region and the WHO South East Asian Region showed the lowest percentages (22.6% for AFR and 29.0% for SEAR). (1)
Herbal Detox program
A good herbal Detox program like our Ultimate Herbal Detox which includes a lot of the dietary changes and herbs mentioned below has been reported to help lower cholesterol. Find out more below.
Cholesterol: Too much of a good thing!
Cholesterol is a type of fat that can be found in certain foods (e.g. meat, dairy, eggs), and is also made in your body by your liver. You actually need cholesterol to live – your body makes hormones like estrogen and testosterone plus many other important biological molecules from cholesterol.
The problem is not having cholesterol in your body – it's actually having too much of the wrong type of cholesterol that can affect your health. Eating some cholesterol lowering food (low fat) is not necessarily the long term solution as many low fat foods are high in sugar which can lead to other problems such as pre-diabetes.
Good and the bad cholesterol
There are two main types of cholesterol: high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
HDL is essentially the ‘good’ form of cholesterol that travels from your cells to the liver where it is processed and removed from the body.
LDL is the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol when it's in excess, as this is the form which travels from the liver out through your arteries, to your peripheries. It is the LDL form of cholesterol that is most likely to clog your arteries and cause heart disease.
When the ratio of HDL to LDL is out of balance (i.e. not enough HDL, too much LDL) more cholesterol is being stored and circulated in the body than is being removed from the body. This is bad news and needs to be sorted.
How to lower cholesterol
Conventional drugs and Liver function
Doctors typically prescribe one of six different classes of drugs available for lowering cholesterol levels. (11) We will discuss two of them here.
The most common are Statins which lower LDL levels by inhibiting enzyme activity leading to decreases in liver cholesterol content resulting in an up-regulation of hepatic LDL receptors, which increases the clearance of LDL cholesterol. The major side effects are muscle complications and an increased risk of diabetes. The different statins have varying drug interactions. (11)
Bile acid sequestrants lower LDL cholesterol by 10-30% by decreasing the absorption of bile acids in the intestine which decreases the bile acid pool consequently stimulating the synthesis of bile acids from cholesterol leading to a decrease in Liver cholesterol content and an up-regulation of Liver LDL receptors. Bile acid sequestrants can be difficult to use as they decrease the absorption of multiple drugs, increase triglyceride levels, and cause constipation and other GI side effects. (11)
The Liver plays a major part in the regulation of cholesterol (12) and by looking at the mode of activity of these drugs it makes sense to give yourself a liver cleanse in order to lower your cholesterol.
Here are seven other steps to lowering cholesterol levels naturally
People who have cardiovascular health risks such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure, need to make life-long dietary and lifestyle modifications to improve their health.
Diet and lifestyle changes must form the foundation of any cholesterol-lowering plan. Incorporating the following simple modifications into your diet and lifestyle will help you to successfully treat high cholesterol for life.
Follow a cholesterol lowering food plan
If you make some important dietary modifications you can effectively reduce LDL levels. They include:
- Reduce the intake of acid forming foods such as sugar, coffee, red meats and processed carbohydrates.
- Eat more Soluble fiber Add 5–10 grams/day to your intake. Psyllium husk is perfect.
- Reduce trans-fatty acid intake. Margarine, canola oil containing products and frying oils usually contain trans-fatty acids and should be avoided. When you consume more unsaturated fat, you still must be careful to reduce your intake of trans fat. Main sources are stick margarine, baked products such as crackers, cookies, doughnuts, and breads, and foods fried in hydrogenated oils. (7, 9)
- Consume more Plant sterols Add 2 grams/day to your intake. Corn and Soy products contain sterols. (8)
- Reduce your saturated fat intake by consuming only lean meats, as well as increasing good fats from cold water fish and nuts and seeds. Remember this does not just mean go "Low Fat" on everything. Good fats are OK.
- Follow the principles of the Mediterranean diet as this style of eating has been found to be beneficial in reducing and managing cholesterol levels. This diet comprises of fresh fish, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil and garlic.
Find many good recipes which show how to lower cholesterol and contain natural cholesterol lowering food here
Other Specific Cholesterol lowering Food
Oats. An easy first step to improving your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber. (The average American gets about half that amount.)
Barley and other whole grains. Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver.
Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take awhile for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices — from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond — and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food.
Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber.
Nuts. A bushel of studies shows that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.
Vegetable oils. Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or at the table helps lower LDL.
Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.
Foods fortified with sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols extracted from plants gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate. They’re also available as supplements. Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%.
Soy. Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once touted as a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Analyses show that the effect is more modest — consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day (10 ounces of tofu or 2 1/2 cups of soy milk) can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.
Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.
Fiber supplements. Supplements offer the least appealing way to get soluble fiber. Two teaspoons a day of psyllium, bulk-forming laxatives such as Symlax, provide about 4 grams of soluble fiber. (10)
The following herbs may also be of assistance:
- Cinnamon - The blood Lipid lowering effect of Cinnamon has been shown in clinical tests (2)
- Cayenne - The faecal excretion of cholesterol and triglycerides can be significantly increased by the consumption of Cayenne. (3)
- Ginger - Has been shown to possess both Anti-diabetic and hypolipidaemic (cholesterol lowering) properties (4)
- Garlic - There is consistent evidence that garlic intake reduces cardiovascular disease risk factors including lowering LDL cholesterol. (5)
- Turmeric (Curcumin) and Black Pepper - This combination is an efficacious adjunctive therapy in patients with Metabolic Syndrome and can lower blood cholesterol concentrations. (6, 12)
Isn't it funny that the hot spicy herbs help to melt away the cholesterol!
If you are overweight then weight loss is an essential part of reducing your cholesterol levels. If you need to lose weight, you could use the Ultimate Herbal Detox and Slim programs to assist with your weight loss.
Daily physical activity is vital to improving cardiovascular health, for weight maintenance and to keep you as healthy as you can possible be.
If you need help getting started on an exercise regime, start gently with some daily walking and look for a physical activity that you really enjoy.
Make some key lifestyle changes
It is also important that you address factors such as stress and smoking as these can severely increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Have regular cholesterol testing
Regular cholesterol testing helps keep you informed about how your treatment is progressing, as well as providing you with motivation to stick you your new way of life. You can get cholesterol tests done through your doctor or your Natural Healthcare practitioner.
Herbal Detox program
A good herbal Detox program like our Ultimate Herbal Detox which includes a lot of the dietary changes and herbs mentioned above will definitely help lower cholesterol.
Brett Elliott ®
(1) Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, Mean Cholesterol http://www.who.int/gho/ncd/risk_factors/cholesterol_mean_text/en/
(2) Lipid lowering effect of Cinnamomum zeylanicum in hyperlipidaemic albino rabbits. PMID: 22186322 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22186322
(3) Hypocholesterolaemic effect of the oleoresin of Capsicum annum L. in gerbils (Meriones hurrianae Jerdon). PMID: 12164276 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12164276
(4) Anti-diabetic and hypolipidaemic properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale) in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. PMID: 17010224 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17010224
(5) Garlic powder intake and cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. PMID: 25489404 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25489404
(6) Lipid-modifying effects of adjunctive therapy with curcuminoids-piperine combination in patients with metabolic syndrome: results of a randomized controlled trial. PMID: 25440375 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25440375
(7) [Margarine's trans-fatty acid composition: modifications during the last decades and new trends]. PMID: 16640201 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16640201
(8) Cholesterol-lowering efficacy of plant sterols/stanols provided in capsule and tablet formats: results of a systematic review and meta-analysis. PMID: 24144075 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24144075
(9) Lowering Your Cholesterol With TLC https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/chol_tlc.pdf
(10) 11 foods that lower cholesterol. http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/11-foods-that-lower-cholesterol
(11) Cholesterol Lowering Drugs. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27809434
(12) Long-term curcumin administration protects against atherosclerosis via hepatic regulation of lipoprotein cholesterol metabolism. PUBMED https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22058071