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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tips for Naturally Lowering Your Cholesterol Levels


Worried about high cholesterol? If a recent blood test has you fretting over high blood cholesterol levels, don’t miss these helpful tips for lowering them:

What is cholesterol?
Turns out, all the cholesterol your body needs it actually produces itself. All the cholesterol you consume through food is only surplus. Cholesterol as a critical component of your biology is a fatty and soft, wax-like substance that resides in your cells. Cholesterol plays a handful of important roles in helping your body make vitamin D, hormones, and substances like bile which help you digest food.

When cholesterol is transported through your body, it travels in molecular packages called lipoproteins. These lipid (fat) protein vehicles move through your bloodstream in two ways. Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) carry cholesterol from your liver and deliver it to cells and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) carry cholesterol from your cells back to your liver. LDL is sometimes referred to as “bad cholesterol” because it can cause dangerous buildup in your artery walls, while HDL is sometimes refers to as “good cholesterol” because it helps your body to eliminate excess cholesterol.

Why is high cholesterol bad?
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute shares that high cholesterol levels increase your risk for developing coronary artery disease which is a condition that results from atherosclerosis, or the buildup of cholesterol, fat, and other substances on the walls of your arteries - these are called plaques. When blood vessels and arteries have less and less room for blood to pass through, your heart has to work harder and harder to pump blood through your circulatory system. This places stress on the heart, artery walls, and organs.

How can you lower cholesterol levels?
The good news is that with basic lifestyle changes, reversing high cholesterol is completely possible. Check out these quick expert tips for lowering high cholesterol and decreasing your risk for heart disease:

Be Smart About the Fats You Eat

Big fan of animal-based foods like red meat, butter, ice cream, and cheese? The saturated fats in these foods are a big no-no when it comes to lowering bad cholesterol levels especially. The Mayo Clinic  shares that in fact only 7% of the calories you consume in a day should come from saturated fats. Instead, you want to consume more foods with unsaturated fats, specifically mono-saturated fats which are derived from plant sources. Cooking with olive oil instead of butter is a good example of replacing a saturated fat with a mono-saturated fat. Avocados, almonds, cashews, and pecans are other good sources of mono-saturated fats.

Eat More Soluble Fiber
Fiber has a unique way of lowering bad cholesterol by reducing how much cholesterol is actually absorbed in your bloodstream. Soluble fiber, also referred to as viscous fiber, both slows down the motility of food through the small intestine as well as disrupts bile absorption. The body compensates for this by triggering the liver to make more bile silts which requires cholesterol. The liver starts pulling more bad cholesterol out of the bloodstream to aid the process, thus lowering overall levels. Getting 10 to 25g of soluble fiber a day can be effective in lowering cholesterol levels - look for foods like whole oats, barley, apples, kidney beans, pears, lentils, and vegetables.

Increase Daily Exercise
The Centers for Disease Control recommend 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily for lowering risk of developing all types of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. When it comes to battling high cholesterol, exercise is just as important as diet changes! Low impact activities like swimming, cycling, yoga practice, hiking, dancing, and rowing help keep the heart muscle strong, help you lose weight, and can increase good cholesterol levels in your bloodstream. Additional strength training activities like light weight lifting and resistance training are also important. The best resistance bands will facilitate fun and safe strength training, especially for older adults.

Additional lifestyle modifications which support not only reducing cholesterol but lowering risk for high blood pressure and heart disease include quitting smoking and being vigilant about little to moderate alcohol consumption. Anything you can do to help power a strong heart, clear arteries, and manage a healthy weight is guaranteed to add years to your life.

This is a guest blog post.

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