All that has been spread for years is that cholesterol is bad. Haven’t you heard that multiple times? When you hear the word cholesterol, what do you associate it with (good or bad)?
Let me tell you right now that even in health, not everything is good or bad. There is an intermediate area that exists also, even when it comes to cholesterol.
In the body there are two types of cholesterol, where for years they have been differentiated as bad cholesterol (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL), but how true is all this? It’s time to really understand it and learn how to lower high cholesterol naturally.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a lipid, which is found naturally in the human body, in fact, it is the main element in the composition of cell membranes, acting in it as a barrier or filter that prevents different substances from passing inside of the cell.
Cholesterol not only acts at a level as essential as the cellular structure but also at the metabolic level, directly intervening in the synthesis of hormones, vitamins and bile salts (essential when it comes to the digestion of fats).
As for the human lipid profile, talking about cholesterol without mentioning triglycerides, would be a bit pointless, because many people may have partially high or even normal cholesterol values, but at the same time very high triglyceride levels.
Actually if you are not careful this can make you think that cholesterol levels are normal. The reality is that triglycerides and cholesterol are associated.
Triglycerides are lipid molecules that are responsible for transporting body fat. The reasons that raise them are the same as those that affect cholesterol.
The Difference Between Good Cholesterol and Bad
Good Cholesterol or HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein): It is transported by HDL. It circulates in organs and tissues to the liver, that is, it goes from the periphery to the liver without accumulating in any compartment. Once it returns to the liver it is degraded.
Bad Cholesterol or LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein): The path of cholesterol transported by the LDL protein is completely opposite since it travels from the liver to different tissues and organs. It does not turn so that means it is not degraded.
This is where the danger arises. Since this molecule does not degrade its next step is to accumulate. It also has a special liking for vascular tissues, where they accumulate, settle and cause an inflammatory reaction.
This can cause atherosclerosis (plaque buildup inside your arteries) and all the complications that accompany this disease. So in short HDL cholesterol is considered cardioprotective and LDL cholesterol is the opposite.
When is LDL Cholesterol Considered Bad?
The existence of both transport proteins is based on the fact that the two fulfill a function. But unfortunately the problem occurs when LDL cholesterol increases to levels at which it begins to harm.
Cholesterol values are reported in laboratory analyzes, divided into separate and a global relationship between the two. For medical purposes the values are more important than the relationship between them.
- Total cholesterol: <200mg / dl
- HDL cholesterol: 40-50 mg / dl
- LDL cholesterol: <100mg / dl
These values may vary minimally between women and men, especially depending on age, but in general, those are normal values, so that greater than 100mg/dl in LDL cholesterol expresses an increase that should be treated.
Why Do the Cholesterol Levels Rise?
Yep cholesterol is not an enemy, although LDL cholesterol tends to accumulate and be harmful. Also, there are some factors that are essential for you to understand so that as you monitor and receive treatment you know how to keep your cholesterol level to a minimum.
The human body independently synthesizes the cholesterol it uses for its maintenance and metabolic processes, but there is another additional source of lipids, the diet.
Those foods rich in saturated fats and trans fats are primarily responsible for increases in LDL cholesterol.
If you add to this a sedentary life and other unhealthy habits such as cigarettes and alcohol in excess, it is clear that it is the environment conducive to increase cholesterol.
We must consider another very important factor and that is the hereditary component. There are many people whose diet is quite healthy and they still have high cholesterol values.
These people probably represent those who have hypercholesterolemia, which is a hereditary disease characterized by cholesterol elevated and other endocrine and systemic conditions.
Although this disease is not what I would consider the main reason I have seen as it relates to high cholesterol, but it surely may be the answer in cases where cholesterol elevations are not justified.
How to Reduce Cholesterol Naturally?
Yes the sad truth is you may need to change your diet because one of the main causes of high cholesterol is an inadequate diet.
Avoid foods high in fat, these include:
- Dairy: Whole milk, ice cream (not skimmed) cheeses, yogurt is included here too.
- Meats: Although you may not consume fatty pieces, you may be consuming fatty meat, for example, duck meat, goose. You should completely avoid all sausage, cured, bacon and canned products.
- Fats: Greasy foods and fats alone are prohibited equally, avoid butter, margarine, sauces, and creams.
- Sweets: Desserts not only contain sugar but are also an additional source of fat, especially if they are based on chocolate, peanut butter, coconut, among others.
- Drinks: Alcohol is eliminated from your diet, during the first months of cholesterol control, then you can restart your consumption, but in moderation.
Decrease Cholesterol Levels With Healthy Eating:
Increase Fish Consumption:
Fish has been for many years, one of the best protein options in people with high cholesterol levels, especially blue fish such as sardine, trout, salmon, tuna, mackerel.
You may be thinking why? Well its because of the composition of the fish. It is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids of the Omega 3 type. This help to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides at the plasma level, in turn, have a cardioprotective effect on cardiovascular health.
For Omega 3 to be effective though, it must be found in concentrations close to 4gr daily. You may find this hard to attain by only eating fish so its a good idea to incorporate other foods rich in Omega 3, such as skim milk and skimmed yogurts.
It is perhaps one of the most widespread advice, but also one of the least applied. Many are unaware of the power of eating vegetables, especially if they are carefully selected.
These foods provide protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins, and even water. Some are onions, celery, broccoli, beans, chickpeas, lentils, radish, and carrots.
Vegetables allow you to feel more satiated after each meal. Did you know it also allows the liver and gastrointestinal system not to feel overloaded or forced during the time of digesting. Fats keep these systems overloaded since their digestion is neither easy nor fast.
Mediterranean Diet to Lower Cholesterol:
This is based on a nutritional style from the food of Mediterranean countries. It is especially good for the heart, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as for the control of blood pressure and diabetes.
It is mostly vegetables and olive oil with small portions of animal protein such as chicken and meat. This diet excludes flours and sugars beyond those provided by fruits.
They are considered superfoods and most do not see them beyond desserts or simple snacks. But the truth is that they are foods rich in fiber and plant sterols.
The awesome function of these two great substances is to delay the absorption at the intestinal level of cholesterol and fats. A health tip for you – It is recommended to include about 2 servings of nuts daily, which would be the equivalent of 60gr or 2 handfuls.
The fruits to choose are varied but some of the most popular in my opinion are almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts.
Increase or Include Oatmeal in Your Diet:
The amounts vary, but on average, 75 grams of oatmeal, distributed in about 3 servings throughout the day, is effective in a cholesterol and triglyceride reduction plan.
I must make you aware that the reduction of cholesterol does not occur immediately. Tangible results are possible to be recorded only after the 3 or 4 weeks of the diet. This reduction could be between a 15 to 20% of its initial values which is truly significant.
Patience and perseverance will be your best friend. Also you must accompany the nutritional change with an exercise routine according to your abilities. I strongly suggest some level of physical activity 3 to 4 times per week.