A guide to cholesterol and how to lower it naturally
If you're over 40 you've probably had your cholesterol checked either by your GP or at the local pharmacy, and then told it's either okay, or you need to lower it.
But what does that actually mean and how to you do lower it?
In this guide we'll cover all the important bits, dispel a few myths along the way and recommend six practical, natural steps that you can do today that have been shown to improve your cholesterol.
The difference between Good and Bad cholesterol
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often referred to as "bad" cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as "good" cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries, leading to a condition called atherosclerosis, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
On the other hand, HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Your cholesterol results
Typically consists of several numbers, including total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Cholesterol levels are measured in millimoles per litre (mmol/L). According to the NHS, a healthy cholesterol reading should have:
Total cholesterol: 5 mmol/L or lower
LDL cholesterol: 3 mmol/L or lower
HDL cholesterol: 1 mmol/L or higher for men, and 1.2 mmol/L or higher for women
Triglycerides: 2 mmol/L or lower
More likely as we age
Cholesterol levels can rise with age, and even if you're leading a healthy lifestyle and doing everything right, your cholesterol may still increase.
Fortunately, there are natural ways to improve your cholesterol levels and support your heart health.
The surprising truth about dietary cholesterol
This is the cholesterol found in foods, such as eggs, shellfish, and meats. For a long time, it was believed that consuming foods high in dietary cholesterol would lead to increased blood cholesterol levels and a higher risk of heart disease.
However, recent research has shown that dietary cholesterol has a minimal impact on blood cholesterol levels for most people.
When you consume more dietary cholesterol, your liver typically reduces the amount of cholesterol it produces, maintaining a balance in your body.
The main culprits...
The foods contributing to high cholesterol levels and heart disease risk are saturated and trans fats, typically found in processed and fried foods, rather than dietary cholesterol itself.
Six natural ways to improve your Cholesterol
More fruit and veg
Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, fruits and vegetables help lower LDL cholesterol by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. They also contain soluble fibre, which binds to cholesterol in the digestive system and helps remove it from the body.
Porridge oats and barley, are rich in soluble fibre, as is prebiotic inulin, which can lower cholesterol levels by forming a gel-like substance in the digestive tract.
This gel binds to cholesterol and bile acids, preventing them from being reabsorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, the liver has to use more cholesterol to produce bile acids, leading to a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels.
Soluble fibre can also help regulate blood sugar levels andsupport healthy digestion.
A 30 min walk
Regular physical activity can help raise HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) while lowering LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and triglyceride levels. Exercise helps improve blood circulation, strengthens the heart, and increases overall cardiovascular fitness.
For example, one study found that walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can reduce LDL cholesterol by 8-10% in just 12 weeks.
Maintain a healthy weight
Carrying excess body weight, particularly around the waist, can contribute to higher levels of LDL cholesterol and lower levels of HDL cholesterol.
Losing just 5-10% of your body weight can significantly improve your cholesterol levels.
Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice, has been shown to help lower cholesterol levels . Red yeast rice contains a compound called monacolin K, which is chemically identical to the active ingredient in some cholesterol-lowering statins .
Omega-3 fatty acids
Good sources are salmon, mackerel, and sardines, or Omega 3 supplements. The EPA & DHA Omega 3 oils contribute to the normal function of the heart, support normal blood pressure and normal blood triglyceride levels.
This article is for general information only and in not intended to treat or diagnose medical conditions.
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 Soliman, G. A. (2019). Dietary Fiber, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients, 11(5), 1155.
 Mann, S., Beedie, C., & Jimenez, A. (2014). Differential effects of aerobic exercise, resistance training and combined exercise modalities on cholesterol and the lipid profile: review, synthesis and recommendations. Sports Medicine, 44(2), 211-221.
 Kodama, S., Tanaka, S., Saito, K., Shu, M., Sone, Y., Onitake, F., ... & Sone, H. (2007). Effect of aerobic exercise training on serum levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol: a meta-analysis. Archives of internal medicine, 167(10), 999-1008.
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 Wing, R. R., Lang, W., Wadden, T. A., Safford, M., Knowler, W. C., Bertoni, A. G., ... & Wagenknecht, L. (2011). Benefits of modest weight loss in improving cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care, 34(7), 1481-1486.
 Li, Y., Jiang, L., Jia, Z., Xin, W., Yang, S., Yang, Q., & Wang, L. (2005). A meta-analysis of red yeast rice: an effective and relatively safe alternative approach for dyslipidemia. PloS one, 9(6), e98611.
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