Cholesterol is a controversial topic these days; there are multiple opposing theories about whether our cholesterol count has a direct impact on our heart health. For many years, LDL or bad cholesterol has been believed to be the leading cause of heart disease. More recent studies undermine these theories and suggest cholesterol may not have as much of an impact on our heart health.
As a health coach I believe any highs or lows in our blood count is a matter of concern. My recommendations are aimed at achieving optimal health. An imbalance is caused by a dysfunction, which can be addressed by making small changes to our diet and lifestyle.
Dietary changes are as a matter of fact key to a healthy cholesterol count, which is achievable without harmful medications like Statins – commonly prescribed for lowering cholesterol. Although these medications are known to improve cholesterol levels, they are also well known for their serious side effects.
Here are some ways in which you can naturally improve your blood cholesterol levels:
Soluble fiber keeps the body from absorbing cholesterol and also binds with fatty acids and flushes them out of the body, helping to reduce overall cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease.
This type of fiber is naturally found in oats, oat bran, beans, peas, barley, flaxseed, berries, soybeans, bananas, oranges, apples, carrots, pears, barley and prunes.
Omega 3’s found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, and black cod are known to improve cholesterol levels. Even supplemental fish oil for people with heart disease is known to lower serum triglycerides by 25 to 30 percent. Fish also provides high quality protein without the saturated fats present in meat and poultry.
2-3 Servings of fish a week is recommended by experts. Speak to your health care provider about Omega 3 supplements for optimal health.
Most nuts contain sterols, which like fiber, keep the body from absorbing cholesterol. Nuts especially walnuts also contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which is an omega 3 pre-cursor and they are also rich in healthy poly-unsaturated fats.
*Nuts are calorie dense and easy to overeat. Small quantities go a long way!
Garlic is a proven anti-oxidant and this property helps to prevent LDL from being oxidised. The cholesterol build-up that is believed to clog our arteries may be prevented. Garlic has been known to lower cholesterol by up to 9%! Other spices like curcumin, ginger, black pepper, coriander and cinnamon are also great to lower cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation.
Exercise of up to 30 minutes a day can lower LDL levels, increase HDL levels and also improve our triglyceride count. Even incidental forms of exercise, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking further away can greatly help in improving our health.
Cholesterol may or may not be the end and be all of heart health; imbalance in overall cholesterol count and corresponding medications can be harmful for our overall health and wellbeing. The above recommendations are a perfect start.
**These recommendations are in no way a replacement for prescribed medications; please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet.