Have you ever had routine blood work and told your ‘bad’ cholesterol is elevated? Well, at 44 years old, this has happened to me and would leave me puzzled as to the reason. For instance, I rarely eat fried foods, sweets, and soda which most people associate with high cholesterol. In addition, I’m not a sedentary person, but rather quite active when working and at home. So why (at 44) do I need to watch my cholesterol? Furthermore, what can I do naturally to reduce those ‘bad’ numbers?
What is cholesterol?
Well, have you ever wondered what cholesterol is and why it’s dangerous to your health? According to the National Institutes of Health, “cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body. It travels through your bloodstream in small packages called lipoproteins which are fat (lipid) on the inside and proteins on the outside. Furthermore, the two kinds of lipoproteins: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL) carry cholesterol throughout your body.”
As many of you know, LDL cholesterol is considered the ‘harmful’ cholesterol and HDL is the ‘beneficial’ cholesterol. The reason high LDL cholesterol can be bad for you is because with its accumulation in your arteries, the likelihood that you will develop coronary heart disease in the future increases. In contrast, if your HDL cholesterol is the one elevated, the probability of developing coronary heart disease is reduced.
Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease is when plaque (a combination of calcium, cholesterol, and fat) stockpiles within your coronary arteries. Consequently, this accumulation of plaque can solidify and decrease the diameter of the coronary arteries (known as atherosclerosis). Therefore, without a steady flow of highly oxygenated blood back to the heart, the plaque can crack and thus, induce blood clot formation. With this being said, as the clot grows, the oxygenated blood to the heart muscle can become completely occluded resulting in a heart attack.
Statistics of high cholesterol
As stated by the National Institutes of Health, the percentages of individuals having high cholesterol are the following: “in your 20s – 22%, in your 30s – 38%, in your 40s – 50%, and in your 50s – 62%.” Not to mention, “nearly 1 in every 2 American women has high or borderline high cholesterol.” As a point of reference, use the following when obtaining your cholesterol reading: 240 MG/DL and above – high, 200 – 239 MG/DL – borderline high, and less than 200 MG/DL – desirable.”
Lowering cholesterol levels naturally with diet
When trying to reduce cholesterol, it’s advised to take a long, hard look at food labels and avoid foods containing trans fats. Keep in mind that manufacturers may put the ingredient, ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil,’ on the label as a way to trick you into thinking there’s no trans fat. However, ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’ (found in potato chips for example) is a fancy way of saying trans fat and is known to increase cholesterol.
In addition, it’s recommended to restrict your consumption of foods rich in saturated fats. Such foods include butter or margarine, dairy products that aren’t labeled as non-fat, whole eggs, red meat, and shellfish. However, if you’re like myself and can’t live without cheese or fish, limit your dairy to non-fat options at 2 servings a day, as well as pick fish abundant in omega-3’s such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and trout. Not to mention, an alternative to butter or margarine that you can try is Benecol light which has cholesterol-reducing properties. Lastly, use soy milk in place of your typical glass of milk.
Fortunately, there are some foods that naturally have the power to lower cholesterol. The first food (can also be taken as a supplement) is red yeast rice and “it was discovered that the compound produced in red yeast rice is actually lovastatin – the same compound that is marketed as the cholesterol-lowering prescription drug Mevacor. Not to mention, red yeast rice reduces cholesterol production in the liver.” Although, it’s recommended to take around “1200 milligrams twice a day,” get the green light from your physician prior to taking red yeast rice.
As for another food option having lovastatin (the cholesterol-reducing compound) as one of its ingredients, try some oyster mushrooms (1/2 cup per serving). In addition, foods such as: legumes (beans – pinto, red, soy, and white, lentils, and peas), nuts (almonds and walnuts), and foods high in soluble fiber (barley, oats, and okra) are all great reducers of LDL cholesterol. Lastly, plant sterol supplements such as CholestOff and soluble fiber supplements to include psyllium (commonly taken as Metamucil), are capable of lowering cholesterol.
Essential oils and lowering cholesterol
Is it possible for essential oils to help reduce our high LDL cholesterol numbers? Most definitely! The following is a list of the top essential oils you can utilize to bring your LDL levels down to a more manageable number: basil, bergamot (consist of polyphenols which block the retention of cholesterol), clove (has eugenol which averts the development of blood clots), cinnamon, cypress and ginger (foster blood flow), lavender, lemongrass (maintains the dilation of vessels), myrrh, oregano (consist of semi-essential amino acids which have proven to lower cholesterol, but do not use in conjunction with blood thinners), and rosemary.
So there you have an explanation on natural remedies to lower cholesterol. Here’s to living your best life ever! Feel free to leave me a comment or any insight you may have on the topic of lowering cholesterol with natural remedies.
Barnard, MD, N. (2012). 3 Steps to Controlling Cholesterol Naturally. [online] Doctoroz.com. Available at: http://www.doctoroz.com/article/3-steps-controlling-cholesterol-naturally [Accessed 7 Nov. 2017].
Nhlbi.nih.gov. (2017). What Is Cholesterol? – NHLBI, NIH. [online] Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc/ [Accessed 7 Nov. 2017].