If you’ve been diagnosed with ‘high cholesterol’, there are many ways you can help bring yourself back into a healthier range.
Some cholesterol in your system is essential. It transports hormones around your body, amongst other tasks. Too much circulating cholesterol, however, when your body is pro-inflammatory, and cholesterol can tend to get stuck on artery walls, reducing your blood flow and increasing the problem of cardiovascular events if one of the cholesterol ‘plaques’ shears off from the artery wall, becoming a potential blockage.
Knowing what those numbers on your blood test mean can empower you, as you see the numbers improve with each blood test. HDL is the ‘good’ cholesterol. You want more of this type of cholesterol, because it helps remove excess cholesterol from your blood stream. You want much less of LDL, the ‘bad’ cholesterol, because it will tend to get pasted to your artery walls. Fortunately, provide the right conditions and your body will start to re-balance your HDL and LDL cholesterol.
Diet changes are the first of three most effective methods for you to reduce your cholesterol. The theory used to be that eating cholesterol-rich foods (like eggs) would automatically increase your body’s cholesterol levels. Current theories are that pro-inflammatory foods are more likely to increase your cholesterol level, and create plaques in your arteries. Foods high in saturated fat (butter, full fat cheese, agriculturally raised meat, coconut) and hydrogenated (processed) fats are pro-inflammatory.
Consuming good fats instead will help. Seafood (especially oily fish), avocado, linseed and a moderate amount of tree nuts (not peanuts) are higher in omega-3 oils, which help counteract the pro-inflammatory effect of saturated fats.
Fibre is the second most important component of a cholesterol-lowering plan. Few people reach the recommended 25-35g of fibre per day; or at least, that’s what I see in clinical practice. Surprised? Actually, most people fall short simply because they don’t eat enough vegetables, and assume they’re getting plenty of fibre from their grains.
Stress management is next on the list. As soon as you become stressed, your body automatically floods your bloodstream with fatty acids and extra glucose, to help you escape from the ‘threat’.
Since most of us experience stress, one of the most effective ways to counteract it is with physical exercise, which ‘burns off’ those extra fatty acids and glucose. Add fitness training to your cholesterol lowering plan.
There are other steps you can take to lower cholesterol – but these are the big three to focus on: Food, fitness, and stress management.
By the way, I wrote a small, easy to read book on lowering cholesterol naturally. It includes details of how to read and understand your blood test reports, understand why you might have developed high cholesterol, and provides a meal plan to get you started. You can buy it at my online shop, here . Its just $A9.99 for the electronic version.