More than 102 million adults in the United States had high cholesterol in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these Americans, 35 million had levels high enough to put them at significant risk for heart disease. While medications to reduce cholesterol levels are available, you may prefer to try reducing your cholesterol naturally to avoid the expense and possible risks from taking drugs. Lowering your cholesterol levels also reduces your risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke.
Avoid food that causes the levels of cholesterol and other lipids to rise in your bloodstream. A diet high in unhealthy fat and dietary cholesterol is the primary cause of elevated blood lipids. The American Heart Association recommends that you get 25 to 35 percent of your calories from fats. Restrict your intake of saturated fats so they make up only about 7 percent of your calories. Saturated fat, found in animal products such as meat, milk and cheese is solid at room temperature, like butter or the white strip along the edge of a steak. Trans fats, used by manufacturers to extend the shelf life and improve the texture of commercially baked products like snack cakes and crackers, are particularly harmful to cholesterol levels. Get no more than 1 percent of your calories from trans fats.
Increase your intake of foods that are known to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the damage that excessive cholesterol has inflicted on your vascular structures. Foods that contain fiber, like whole grain breads, oatmeal and legumes, reduce blood cholesterol levels by increasing HDL. HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, scrapes cholesterol deposits from blood vessel walls and ferries excess cholesterol to the liver where it is processed and eliminated from the body. HDL also possesses anti-inflammatory properties which reduce the damage done by arterial deposits. Consume more olive and canola oils, which improve HDL’s anti-inflammatory abilities. Fatty fish, like mackerel and salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids, known to be beneficial to HDL levels. Eat these fish at least twice a week to reduce your cholesterol naturally.
Lose weight by exercising more and making changes to your lifestyle. You can increase your HDL one point for every 6 pounds you lose. Exercise for a half an hour on five days a week. You will increase HDL by about 5 percent within two months of starting this exercise routine, naturally reducing your cholesterol levels without the use of prescription medicines or over-the-counter dietary supplements.
Quit smoking. This can raise HDL by up to 10 percent, which will drastically reduce your cholesterol levels.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.