Cholesterol: 9 Strategies to Help You Lower Your Levels

Not all cholesterol is bad. Learn how to boost your good cholesterol levels and lower your bad cholesterol levels in this article.
Cholesterol: 9 Strategies to Help You Lower Your Levels

Last update: 09 November, 2021

The strategies that will help you lower your levels of cholesterol are varied and aim to keep this biochemical parameter within normal ranges. Apart from the pharmacological options, we’d like will focus on natural options that can help.

Cholesterol is not a substance that should be entirely eliminated from the body. Quite the contrary! It’s a natural part of the tissues and cell membranes of the human body and is required for hormone production.

Without this fat, we couldn’t live. However, its excess in the blood has been associated with some diseases. That’s why it’s important to implement accessible strategies that can help you lower your levels of cholesterol.

Is cholesterol bad for your health?

As we’ve already mentioned, cholesterol is vital for the body’s functions.

However, there are different types of cholesterol that you should know about. In fact, what we know as total cholesterol is simply the sum of all of them. However, there’s also HDL and LDL cholesterol. Similarly, a lesser-known variant to the general public is VLDL cholesterol.

HDL is good cholesterol. It stands for high-density lipoprotein. It is considered beneficial because it transports fats from the artery walls to the liver, removing them from the circulation and preventing their accumulation in the form of atheroma plaques.

LDL is the “bad” cholesterol. Its acronym comes from the expression low-density lipoprotein. Much attention is paid to it because it’s thought to be linked to the deposition of fats in the arteries.

However, recent studies give more importance to VLDL, or very low-density lipoprotein. This oxidized form of fat represents a higher cardiovascular risk.

Cholesterol and diet

These new developments and interpretations regarding the role of cholesterol in our health are important. We’ve known for some years that cholesterol from food has very little influence on blood levels of the substance.

In fact, there’s speculation that oxidation is truly responsible for the havoc within the human body. LDL and VLDL are more susceptible to free radical damage, which can create more unstable and more harmful molecules.

So what we can do is implement cholesterol-lowering strategies that come from lifestyle changes and that prioritize some foods over others. All of them should aim to reduce the oxidation process of LDL and VLDL cholesterol.

In other words, we’re not looking to eat less cholesterol with food, but to focus on healthy fats and avoid unhealthy fats. Similarly, it’s a good idea to opt for habits that have already been shown to protect cardiovascular health.

Placa de ateroma por colesterol.
One of the objectives in controlling cholesterol is to avoid its deposit in the form of atheroma plaques.

Strategies that will help you lower your levels of cholesterol

Next, we’ll describe 9 strategies that are useful to reduce blood cholesterol and keep it within normal levels.

As mentioned above, when it comes to diet, it’s not about eating less fat, it’s about choosing healthy fats.

These strategies have scientific studies to back them up and are part of a heart and artery protective lifestyle. Taken together, they will reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

1. Don’t eat trans fats to lower your levels of cholesterol

When fats are hydrogenated in a chemical process, they become trans fats. This means that it changes the spatial conformation of the molecules.

The food industry is full of trans fats, as they serve the manufacturing process of multiple products sold in markets. Butters, for example, need them to be stable and solid.

The problem is that, by consuming trans fats, our LDL or “bad” cholesterol increases. At the same time, HDL reduces its concentration.

The strategy is to read the nutritional labeling carefully. There, you can find out if there are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. These are the terms that describe the trans molecules you want to avoid.

You should also opt for cooking methods at home that are not thermally aggressive. Instead of frying, try using the oven or steaming. This prevents the formation of trans fats, as well.

2. Eat healthy fats

Fats aren’t all bad. Certain advertisements for years have given a negative value to all of them and this is not completely so.

In fact, monounsaturated fats may have a beneficial effect on the human body. Their regular consumption can reduce blood LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL. This happens, in part, because they prevent oxidation.

Where can you find monounsaturated fats?

In extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and avocado. Add them to your diet!

3. Focus on fiber to lower your levels of cholesterol

The intestinal microbiota, which is the set of microorganisms that live in the human digestive tract without affecting us, can reduce the oxidation of fats. However, to do this, we need these bacteria to be healthy.

The consumption of soluble fiber stimulates the healthy proliferation of the microbiota. However, not only that: It also delays the absorption of some substances so that they don’t pass immediately into the blood. Plus, it improves the effect of statins prescribed to people with high cholesterol.

You can find soluble fiber in peas, lentils, almost all fruits, and oatmeal. There are commercial preparations with fiber supplements, such as psyllium, which you can also add to your diet.

4. Omega 3 to help lower your levels of cholesterol

Much is said and studied about omega 3.

Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat. Fish and nuts contain a significant amount of it. Several investigations in recent years associate it with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, as it can help reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood.

Other benefits that are considered and are being evidenced have to do with type 2 diabetes. In fact, adding omega 3 into the diet of diabetics helps regulate blood glucose levels.

5. Don’t smoke

In addition to all the negative effects of tobacco on the human body, we have to add its action on cholesterol. This is explained by the fact that smokers’ bodies are less able to clean their arteries.

Once the cholesterol has been deposited on the walls of the vessels, it’s difficult to remove the cells that would be responsible for doing so. This is why smokers have a high prevalence of diseases linked to the obstruction of circulation.

6. Don’t drink alcohol in excess

Cutting down alcohol consumption is another strategy to reduce cholesterol that’s often discussed at a scientific level.

In fact, the recommendation of a glass of wine with meals to protect the heart has even been questioned. Studies suggest that a punctual dose of alcohol increases good cholesterol. That dose is approximately 24 grams, but it depends on the concentration of each drink considered.

Anyway, when there’s an excess of alcohol consumption, the liver suffers. The liver is the key to cholesterol metabolism.

7. Exercise to reduce your cholesterol levels

The health benefits of physical exercise are manifold. It positively affects mood, reduces stress, improves anxiety control, prevents muscle loss, slows aging, increases cardiorespiratory capacity, and prevents metabolic diseases.

When it comes to cholesterol control, aerobic exercise combined with strength training seems the best option. Walking is already very beneficial, but it’s more and more clear that an increase in intensity and running time improves the benefits.

Perhaps the most noticeable effect of this strategy on cholesterol is the increase in the HDL variant. However, this is perceived when physical exercise is performed at an intensity that allows us to reach 85% of our maximum heart rate.

Ejercicio para reducir el colesterol.
To all the benefits of physical exercise, we must add the ability to regulate cholesterol.

8. Reduce bodyweight if you’re overweight

Weight gain and obesity are cardiovascular risk factors. People who suffer from these diseases usually have high levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood.

When they start a regulated diet adapted by professionals to reduce their extra weight, bad cholesterol also decreases. It’s a double benefit that also means less risk of heart attacks and strokes.

At the same time, exercise is a strategy that helps to reduce weight and harmful cholesterol. Thus, there’s a synergy between both to take care of your heart.

One of the most effective mechanisms of weight-loss diets is that they prevent the body from making new cholesterol. Therefore, it uses the reserves to produce energy, removing the harmful oxidized forms from circulation.

9. Add supplements if your doctor approves of them

The pharmaceutical industry has developed supplements to incorporate daily. Some of them can have an effect on cholesterol.

However, this strategy deserves to be considered in the framework of a healthy diet. That is, the substances should not be incorporated into the diet unless a health professional recommends adding them.

Omega-3, which we mentioned at the beginning, can be purchased in the form of fish oil, for example. On the other hand, more and more attention is being paid to coenzyme Q10. This substance shows promise for lowering LDL cholesterol.

Cholesterol-lowering strategies depend on consistency

Overall, these 9 strategies that will help you lower your cholesterol should be combined. None of them are magic by themselves, nor do they have an immediate effect on everyone.

Also, it’s critical to sustain them over the years. Going on a diet or exercising for three months and then giving up will have no noticeable effect.

Finally, consult a doctor you trust if you have any questions. All these strategies to lower your levels of cholesterol can be enhanced if you know your blood values and a professional advises you.

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