Keep cholesterol in the healthy range

The recommended ranges for optimal cholesterol levels are usually classified as desirable when below 200mg/dL, borderline high at 200-239 and high at 240 and above.

A naturally occurring substance made by the liver, cholesterol is required by the body for the proper function of hormones, nerves and cells.

Cholesterol is normally kept in balance, but an unhealthy diet which is high in hydrogenated fats and refined carbohydrates can disrupt this delicate balance, leading to increased cholesterol levels. This imbalance produces an elevated LDL (bad cholesterol) and low HDL (good cholesterol), which increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. Other causes can include physical inactivity, stress, hypothyroidism and diabetes.

However, not all cholesterol is created equal. LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad cholesterol,” is the form that can build up on the artery walls and increase your risk of heart disease.

HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, is often called “good cholesterol” because it travels through the bloodstream, removing harmful cholesterol from the arteries to help enhance heart health.

Here are some ways to lower cholesterol naturally with foods you can enjoy:
Olive oil - Loaded with heart-healthy unsaturated fats, extra-virgin olive oil has been shown to reduce bad LDL cholesterol levels to enhance heart health.

Seeds - Varieties such as the nutritious flaxseeds have been shown to reduce both total and LDL cholesterol levels to keep your heart healthy.

Lecithin granules - Lecithin (derived from soy beans) acts as an emulsifier which helps dissolve fat and cholesterol. Sprinkle one tablespoon on breakfast cereal, salads or in smoothies. Have up to three teaspoons a day.

Sweet potatoes - These sweet and tasty vegetables contain several health-promoting proteins and compounds that have been shown to decrease cholesterol in animal models.

Green tea - Rich in antioxidants and catechins, green tea is one of the healthiest beverages that you can add to your routine. Drinking green tea can decrease levels of total and LDL.

Avocados - Avocados are high in healthy fats, potassium and fibre, all of which can help to keep cholesterol under control. They have been shown to increase levels of good HDL cholesterol, and can also reduce total and bad LDL cholesterol as well.

Foods to Avoid:
Sugar and refined carbohydrates - Added sugar and refined carbs from highly processed foods can reduce your desirable cholesterol ratio by decreasing good cholesterol levels in the blood

Transfats - Found in processed and pre-packaged baked foods, transfats can increase LDL cholesterol, decrease HDL cholesterol and boost the risk of heart disease.  Try to cut these unhealthy fats out of your diet completely by minimizing your intake of processed foods.

Supplements to include:
Fish oil (1000-2000mg daily) – Jam-packed with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil can be especially beneficial if fish doesn’t always make it into your weekly dinner menu. It is effective at increasing levels of good HDL in the blood, to clear out LDL from the arteries.
COQ10 (200-300mg daily) - Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to be useful in lowering cholesterol levels. It works by removing excess cholesterol and preventing atherosclerosis to keep your arteries clear.
Niacin (Vit B3) - (1500mg daily) – This Vitamin is commonly used in the treatment of high cholesterol. Niacin has been shown to reduce triglycerides and lower levels of LDL cholesterol, whilst also increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol levels as well.
Red yeast rice (1200mg twice daily) - Derived from white rice that has undergone fermentation.  One analysis of 13 studies showed that red yeast rice was effective at decreasing both triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
Aged garlic (500mg daily) - In addition to adding garlic to your diet, you may also want to consider adding an aged garlic extract such as Kyolic garlic to your supplement regime. Aged garlic extract, in particular, has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering properties in both human and animal studies.
 
Trudy Kither is a registered naturopath. Visit naturestemple.net.