Have you been diagnosed with high cholesterol? Do you know you can successfully lower it yourself, through diet and lifestyle changes? This article will show you what your blood test results mean, and specific changes you should make in your diet and lifestyle to lower your cholesterol level
Cholesterol is an essential part of our metabolism; it helps make hormones, for example. But too much in your bloodstream can be a problem, especially if it is being left behind on the walls of your arteries. There are several simple techniques you can use to keep your cholesterol levels in a safe range, or to help reduce them if they are too high.
Cholesterol in food is only available from animal products. Prawns, eggs and offal like liver and kidneys contain high amounts. How your body manages that cholesterol once you've eaten it depends on the type of food you ate, the amount of physical activity you do, your genes, and your stress level.
Here is what you need to know about different sorts of blood cholesterol: Lipoproteins are just carriers for lipids (fat). The important ones to know about are LDLs (low density lipoproteins) and HDLs (high density lipoproteins) LDLs carry cholesterol away from the liver, through the bloodstream, in search of cells to store it in. If there is too much LDL in the blood, these lipoproteins will deposit the fats on the walls of your arteries. This is why they are called bad cholesterol. The job of HDLs, on the other hand, is to carry cholesterol from storage back to the liver so it can be removed from the body via the bile. This is why HDLs are known as good cholesterol.
Physical exercise increases the amount of HDLs in your bloodstream. So while you are enjoying that game of tennis or walking through the bush, the HDLs in your bloodstream are increasing in number, busy collecting fats from cells and returning them to the liver for disposal.
A high level of soluble fibre in your food slows down the absorption of fat, because soluble fibre soaks up the fat and carries it out of your body. Here is a quick test to see how your body's handling your fat intake: Faeces which float have a high amount of fat in them, carried out of the body. Faeces which sink have little fat in them - either there was little fat in the meal, or your body has absorbed a lot of the fat in the food already. There are high levels of soluble fibre in oats and fruit, especially apples and pears. Psyllium husks are also a source of fibre, but its always better to obtain your fibre from food rather than supplements if you can.
A cornerstone for managing your cholesterol is to include one of these in your diet every day:100 to 150g legumes (dry weight) or 57 to 140g oatmeal or 10 to 30g Psyllium husks or 2 to 3 apples or pears.
Stress upsets all functions of the body, so a high stress level will mean you're more likely to develop high levels of blood cholesterol. Another good reason to look for stress lowering activities!
If you want to reduce the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream: Reduce the amount of cholesterol you eat, - keep saturated fat intake within reasonable limits, - increase your intake of essential fatty acids (omega 3 oils), - increase your soluble fibre intake, - stay fit, - and manage your stress well.
Remember that obtaining professional advice from your local naturopath can be a smart move, as they are trained to help you identify which areas of your diet & lifestyle need particular attention, speed up the process of reducing your cholesterol levels, and keep you on track. Natural remedies are also available if you need the extra help to reach your target.
Nice easy to read article. I would also include oily fish twice a week into the diet and also fish oil supplement with DHA and EPA adding up to at least 1 gm per day as per the American Heart Association.
Thanks OmegaWoman! Glad you found the article easy to read!
Yes, eating oily fish regularly is certainly a good way to help manage cholesterol. My favourites are poached salmon, or char-grilled tuna. Sardines on toast are really nice too, particularly with tomato paste.