Ways to Lower Cholesterol

There are various ways to lower cholesterol. It’s easier for some people than others. Some people are genetically disposed to having high cholesterol. Older people tend to have higher cholesterol than when they were younger. People who eat unhealthy diets and seldom exercise are more likely to have high cholesterol.

The 4 basic ways of lowering cholesterol include these categories.
1. Change of diet
2. Dietary supplements
3. Exercise
4. Medication

Usually when someone asks about the ways to lower cholesterol they actually mean “what are the ways to lower cholesterol naturally?”. The basic answer is of course a change of diet and more exercise without medication. Maybe some cholesterol lowering supplements too. But how should your diet be changed? Should you take supplements? And how much exercise do you need?

Change of diet
For a long time the recommendations have been to reduce fatty foods and cholesterol rich foods. However, the advice is changing. Consuming foods that are rich in cholesterol and fat are not considered as harmful as previously thought. I’ve read some reports indicating that eating cholesterol has no effect on the cholesterol levels in your blood. Eggs are no longer black listed but often recommended in moderation.

Saturated fat is believed to be unhealthy. But here again, some experts don’t believe it’s as harmful as it’s been reported to be. Saturated fat is found mostly in animal fat foods such as cream, butter, cheese, and fatty meats. Some vegetable products such as coconut oil and cottonseed oil also contain saturated fat.

It is commonly recommended that one should consume less saturated fat and more unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fat is found in olive oil, avocado, nuts, fish, and vegetable oils. The most commonly consumed type of unsaturated fat is found in vegetable oils. Newer research indicates that most people consume too much of the omega 6 type of unsaturated fat which is found in vegetable oils while not consuming enough of the omega 3 type of unsaturated fat found in fish, olive oil, and avocado. Salmon is the highly popular heart healthy fish due to it’s rich omega 3 content.

Trans fat which is hydrogenated oil is considered harmful. Ironically, trans fat became popular in response to the belief that saturated fat was harmful. Trans fat was used as a replacement for saturated fat. An example is stick margarine made with trans fat replacing butter which was rich in saturated fat. As it turns out, trans fat is much more harmful than saturated fat. Trans fat has been used as a preservative. It can make products last longer and taste better. Shortening is another food that contained trans fat. Cake mixes, soup cups, many frozen foods and fast food contain trans fat. Now that it’s known to be harmful fewer foods contain trans fat. However, there still are many foods that do. Do yourself a huge favor and don’t each french fries from fast food restaurants.

Soluble fiber which is found in oat bran, barley, beans, lentils, apples, carrots, and flaxseed may help lower cholesterol.

To lower your cholesterol by changing your diet you should consume more fruits and vegetables and less fast food and processed food. Eat less sugar. Increase your soluble fiber intake too!

Dietary Supplements
The supplements market is huge. And it’s difficult to know which supplements you really need. It’s also difficult to know which supplements are of good quality. Some supplements may be totally worthless simply because they don’t contain what they’re supposed to contain.

The Mayo Clinic website includes an article that lists some cholesterol lowering supplements. They include artichoke extract, barley, Beta-sitosterol, Blond psyllium, fish oil, flaxseed, garlic extract, green tea extract, oat bran, Sitostanol, and red yeast rice. Other supplements include Turmeric, fish oil, vitamin C, and various antioxidants.

In my opinion multivitamin pills and fish oil supplements are worthwhile. A higher dose of vitamin A, C, and D than are in most multivitamin pills may also be helpful. I’ve also heard that coenzyme Q10 may be beneficial for people over 40. And especially for those who are on a statin drug.

More Exercise
One source claims that exercising for 30 minutes a day may lower your cholesterol in one month. A common recommendation is to exercise at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week. Apparently there have not been many studies done on the direct effect of exercise on cholesterol levels. Most would agree that exercise is important and can have only a positive effect on heart health.

Exercise may provide the benefit of raising HDL which is the good kind of cholesterol. In fact it may have more of an effect on raising HDL than it has on lowering LDL. If this is true then exercising may actually raise your cholesterol level! In this case however, it would be an improvement because of a higher HDL level.

A little lesson here. When we talk about a lowering cholesterol we really mean a lower LDL cholesterol level rather than a lower total cholesterol level. Often times a lower total cholesterol level coincides with a lower LDL level, but not always.

Medication
Cholesterol lowering medications include Statins, Niacin, Bile-acid resins, Fibric acid derivatives, and Cholesterol absorption inhibitors. Examples of statins include Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Pravachol, Zocor, and Crestor.

It is generally accepted practice to prescribe cholesterol lowering medications for people who have heart disease. However, there seems to be growing debate about cholesterol lowering medication. Some doctors questioning the belief about the cause of heart disease. They believe it may be related to inflammation rather than cholesterol. Hopefully this debate will be settled sooner rather than later.

Lower Your Cholesterol
Lower your cholesterol by exercising more. Stay away from fast food and junk food. Eat more fruit and vegetables. Eat more food that contains high amounts of fiber especially oat meal. Eat more blueberries, bananas, apples, avocado, and grapes.

Consuming more sugar may have an effect on your cholesterol level too. Sugar is thought to cause inflammation which may be tied to heart disease.

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