Having high cholesterol increases your risk of having a heart attack. So what is it? Cholesterol is a nutrient that is necessary in the right amounts, but too much can build up in the arteries, blocking bloodflow and increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to lower your cholesterol and improve your cardiovascular health.
Increase your fiber
Having more soluble fiber in your diet can help prevent both overall cholesterol and LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) from building up in your body. Psyllium powder, oat bran, or flax meal can be added as a supplement, or you can increase foods like oatmeal, barley, beans, apples, and prunes in your diet. Exchanging some or all of your meat protein with beans can increase your fiber intake and decrease cholesterol intake at the same time!
Reduce your intake of refined sugar and corn syrup
Refined sugars and corn syrup (regular or high fructose) can increase inflammation in your tissues. That inflammation makes rough patches inside your body that can encourage cholesterol to stick and clog you up! Reducing your sugar intake is a good idea anyway, Diabetes is on the rise! But if Cholesterol is your concern, reducing sugar can really improve your health.
Eat these heart-healthy foods
Heart healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocados, salmon, and nuts, can help balance your cholesterol. Reduce your intake of fatty meats and fried foods, which are a source of excess cholesterol in your diet. Spicy foods such as garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne can help with cholesterol. Red onion can reduce your LDL, which can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Spicy foods have an overall cardiovascular benefit and help to balance HDL/LDL (good/bad cholesterol) levels.
Get good exercise
Exercise is key to a healthy heart! Remember, 30 minutes a day, 3-5 days a week of moderate exercise can make a huge difference! Make it something fun and you’ll want to do it even more! Walking is great, but remember it should be energetic enough for you to feel a bit out of breath, not just a stroll in the neighborhood.
Try these herbs
While diet and exercise changes can often be enough to make a big difference in your cholesterol levels, there are some herbal supplements that can help. The category of herbs known as “liver tonics” can support your liver’s ability to break down fats and store them in the proper places (not your arteries!). Turmeric root, Milk Thistle seed and Reishi mushroom are good examples. Garlic, well know for its overall benfit to heart health, can be a big help too. Guggul is a resin harvested in India that has been traditionally used to balance cholesterol and promote healthy weight loss.
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