Treat cholesterol naturally

The secret is to maintain a higher level of good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and lower levels of less healthy, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

by Rima Mehta — 

Cholesterol gets a bad rap. In recent years it has been cited as the source of nearly every health issue, from backaches to baldness. In fact, cholesterol is essential for human life; without it, we would all be in a health crisis of one form or another.

Eighty percent of the cholesterol in your blood is manufactured by the liver, which uses it to make acids that help digest food. It builds and repairs the body’s cells, insulates nerves, helps digest food and assists in the production of certain hormones. Still, cholesterol levels among Americans are at an all-time high.

Smoking tobacco (even passive smoking) raises cholesterol levels. In addition, it is not just people with bad eating habits who are battling boosted cholesterol counts. Even those who exercise regularly and watch what they eat can be driving their cholesterol counts through the roof.

The secret is to maintain a higher level of good cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and lower levels of less healthy, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. A high concentration of HDL cholesterol in the blood is generally associated with a lower risk of heart attack because it helps remove cholesterol from artery walls. HDL also carries cholesterol to the liver, where it is either reused or disposed of in the bile.

LDL, on the other hand, becomes oxidized and attaches to artery walls, initiating hardening of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack. Striking a healthy cholesterol balance is relatively simple. Also, while doctors are preparing a new cholesterol-lowering vaccine for medical trials and health gurus are touting Indian tree sap as the latest LDL blocker, the following is a more traditional set of cholesterol-busting tips.

1. Eat a high fiber diet — The typical American diet is high in saturated fat and low in fiber, which creates the perfect storm for high cholesterol. The ideal diet to lower cholesterol would be vegan, because cholesterol is found only in animal products — eggs, dairy and meat. Crustaceans do not have much fat, but they have twice the cholesterol of beef and chicken.

Plant foods contain fiber, which can help pull cholesterol out of the body. Soluble fiber also helps slow the absorption of cholesterol and reduce the amount the liver makes.

2. Try garlic — Incorporate garlic into your diet. For centuries, garlic has been reputed to assist the heart and has been used in herbal medicines for many conditions. Garlic and cholesterol reduction are frequently mentioned together. Modern medical science suggests garlic as a proven antioxidant that could be beneficial in reducing cholesterol.

This property might help to prevent LDLs from oxidizing. In recent decades, numerous scientific studies have been conducted to test the claims that garlic can help lower cholesterol levels. These studies involve measuring the cholesterol and triglyceride levels of patients taking garlic supplements compared with a control group of patients taking a placebo. Unfortunately, the results were not conclusive.

3. Exercise regularly — Work out four times a week, staying at your target heart rate for at least 30 minutes. The frequency of exercise rather than the intensity seems to have a greater impact.

4. What to eat — Fish, like tuna and salmon, reduces cholesterol levels naturally, as will nuts, such as walnuts and almonds. Other good options include oatmeal and oat bran cereals, orange juice, and fruits and vegetables. Incorporating such foods into the diet will help lower cholesterol naturally.

 

Rima Mehta holds a master’s degree in business management and is a certified holistic nutrition educator. She is completing an advanced training program in wellness and yoga. rima@theeasynutrition.com, www.theeasynutrition.com, 480-361-1644 or 480-326-0138.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2009.

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