Cholesterol is made by the liver and found in the fats within the bloodstream and cells. Though it serves many essential functions, the production of excess cholesterol can be harmful. This extra cholesterol circulating in the bloodstream can clog blood vessels and increase a person’s risk for stroke or heart disease. Taking steps to naturally lower your cholesterol level will greatly improve your health.
Step 1: If you are 20 or older, get a cholesterol screening at least once every five years, or more often if you have a high risk of heart disease. Determine a target cholesterol number based on your cardiovascular risk factors as well as family and personal heart disease history.
Step 2: Engage in regular moderate exercise. Studies have shown that even activities like brisk walking can raise good cholesterol levels by as much as ten percent when done regularly. Five to seven days of regular exercise is recommended per week.
Step 3: Avoid saturated fats and eat more “smart” fats. Cut back on meat consumption and eat fish two to three times per week. Replace butter, lard, shortening, stick margarine, and vegetable oil with olive or canola oil.
Step 4: Eat more fiber. Dietary fiber helps lower cholesterol levels. Eat whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Soluble fibers like barley, oats, dried beans, and fiber products that contain psyllium are also recommended.
Step 5: Drink green tea instead of sugary beverages and sodas. Compounds in green tea can assist in lowering bad cholesterol.
Step 6: If you are not at risk for excessive drinking, drink some alcohol. Surprisingly enough, moderate alcohol consumption can raise good cholesterol levels by up to ten percent. Women may have one drink per day and men may have two.
Step 7: Consume nuts. Regularly eating nuts, especially almonds and walnuts, can modestly reduce cholesterol levels.