Do you have high cholesterol or do you have a loved one or a family member with high cholesterol? It's important to know because having elevated cholesterol can lead to clogged arteries which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and poor circulation. There are many medications that can help to lower your cholesterol, but guess what? There are also ways to naturally lower your cholesterol. So, today we're gonna talk about it. I'm going to show you how to lower cholesterol naturally using food.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that's produced by the liver and other cells in your body. We all need cholesterol to survive, but all of the cholesterol that we need is actually produced by our own body so we don't need to ingest an excessive amount of cholesterol.
You need cholesterol to make your cell membranes. You also need cholesterol to make certain hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. Yes, you need cholesterol To make testosterone. You also need cholesterol to make cell membranes and to make vitamin D.
What Is Bad Cholesterol? HDL vs LDL Cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL(high-density lipoprotein). The "L" stands for low and the "H" stands for high. So, LDL is bad cholesterol and HDL is good cholesterol.
The problem with LDL cholesterol is that it can build up on the walls of your arteries and form plaque. Plaque consists of calcium, fat, cholesterol, and other substances typically found in the blood. When plaque builds up over time, it can harden and constrict your arteries. This buildup is called atherosclerosis and it can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and poor circulation.
HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, helps to remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries and transport it back to the liver where it's broken down. So, you want your HDL cholesterol to be high and your LDL cholesterol to be low.
How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally: 15 Foods to A Healthy Heart!
There are many medications such as statins which can help you to lower your cholesterol. But, guess what? There are also many ways to lower cholesterol naturally by using food as medicine. And that is the topic of today's discussion. Here are 15 heart-healthy foods that can help to lower your cholesterol:
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are loaded with fiber. They also have unsaturated fats. If you take just two tablespoons of chia seeds, they have 140 calories. They have 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, and 7 grams of unsaturated fat. Chia seeds are also extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are known to help to decrease inflammation, help absorb bad cholesterol, and help you to maintain good cholesterol.
One thing about chia seeds is that when they get wet or when you swallow them and they're moist in your digestive system, they tend to expand. And so, it's a good idea to go ahead and moisten your chia seeds and get that gooeyness before you even ingest them. And, that's a part of that soluble fiber and that mucilage, and that helps to absorb bad cholesterol.
Garlic is wonderful especially when you don't overcook it. You want to make sure that you eat it raw or you just very lightly heat it or crush it so you maintain some of its properties. Garlic has a substance called allicin which is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory and it helps you to have a low bad cholesterol while maintaining a high good cholesterol.
Another thing about garlic is that it has antiplatelet activity. And when you're in a situation where you have atherosclerosis or clots in your vessels, not only is it that waxy cholesterol that builds up but it's also calcium fatty acids and platelets. Platelets will help to make those plaques which can lead to a heart attack. Garlic has an anti-platelet activity which will help to be somewhat of a natural blood thinner.
3. Olive Oil
Olive oil is packed with antioxidants which help to lower the bad cholesterol or LDL, while maintaining a high good cholesterol, HDL. And, that is again, because it has so many antioxidants. It's best to use extra virgin olive oil. Why? Because it is not processed as much and so it actually has more antioxidants than overprocessed olive oil.
4. Oats and Oatmeal
Now, I'm not talking about the sugary instant oatmeal that has all kinds of processed sugar and flavoring in it. You know, artificial flavors and fake fruit. I'm talking about real oats, good old-fashioned oats that you have to actually cook. These oats are loaded with soluble fiber which can also help you to decrease that bad cholesterol while maintaining a good high cholesterol.
Who doesn't love beans? Everyone should love beans because they do so many great things for our bodies. Beans have hat soluble fiber that we talked about. Kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans have that fiber, and again, they help you to lower the bad cholesterol like LDL and triglycerides. You want those to be low while maintaining a high good cholesterol.
Other great things about beans, you know because they have so much fiber it's a food that can help you to fill up quickly. And so, it's something that's pretty healthy as opposed to filling up with unhealthy foods. This can help you with maintaining a good healthy weight. They also tend to have high potassium, which is another way that you can lower your blood pressure naturally. Be sure to watch my video on 21 foods with high potassium to lower your blood pressure after you finish reading this article.
6. Fruits and Berries
Now, I love fruits and berries. They are sweet. And so, if you're someone who's trying not to have too many bad sugars, this is something that can help you with your sweet tooth. But, guess what? Fruits and berries can also help you to lower your cholesterol naturally. Fruits and berries are loaded with minerals with flavonoids, they also have a healthy amount of antioxidants as well as fiber. There's that F word again, fiber. And again, that fiber's going to help you to lower the bad cholesterol while maintaining a good high cholesterol.
When it comes to filling up on these fruits and berries, you definitely want to eat the rainbow. Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, grapes, apples, as well as grapefruit, bananas, and many more. And I can tell you, in addition to helping you control your cholesterol levels, these fruits do so much more because many of them also have high potassium, which is going to be good for your blood pressure. The antioxidants, again are going to help you to get rid of inflammation. And we know that when the blood vessels have inflammation then that increases your risks of the cholesterol sticking to those inflamed vessels and you getting clots.
Nuts are good for so many things. And I'm specifically talking about unsalted nuts. You know how I feel about having high sodium. You need to have a low-sodium diet for your health and for your blood pressure. But nuts, unsalted nuts specifically, they're excellent for helping your cholesterol levels. Some healthy varieties include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, and pecans.
So let's talk about walnuts specifically for a moment. Walnuts help to decrease inflammation in your blood vessels which again can help to stop the cholesterol from sticking to them, and help to keep them unclogged naturally. Walnuts can also help to increase the elasticity or the stretchiness of your blood vessels which will help you with your blood flow. And of course, they help to lower your cholesterol naturally. You can grab a handful or two for snacks, or you can add them to your salads and smoothies.
8. Green Tea
Green tea does have some cholesterol-lowering properties. There have been some trials to show it and some anecdotal studies as well. But oftentimes I hear people talking about green tea as if they can just take it and not take their statins or the other advice of their physicians. Please be careful of that because the cholesterol-lowering properties that green tea does have, have been shown to be somewhat minimal.
There was a study that reviewed 14 different trials where there were two different legs. There was a leg of people that had green tea, and the other leg did not have green tea. And while green tea did show that it lowered cholesterol, it wasn't by that much. I say that to say that yes, green tea with its catechins can help to lower cholesterol, but be careful when you're doing the holistic medicines that you don't totally throw away all of your doctor's advice. Make sure that you consult with your physician, it's not one or the other.
It's not all holistic, or all-natural ways and absolutely no medicine. No, you want to lower your cholesterol in an integrated fashion. If you are, for example, a person who's living with obesity or a smoker and you start to change your lifestyle and you start to do all these things and use these foods that we're talking about and your cholesterol starts to get low, I guarantee your physician will pull back certain medications as is possible. But always consult with your physician.
And something else to remember is that when you're dealing with green tea and the catechins in some cases they can actually have a negative or an adverse reaction with some of your medications. And in some cases, they can cause liver issues. Nevertheless, I do get asked about green tea a lot and so I want to make sure I gave some of the science behind it. Yes, it could help to keep your cholesterol levels naturally low, just not to a great degree.
9. Healthy Green Vegetables
Vegetables are always good for you. But there are some that are better than others when it comes to lowering your cholesterol. And, these are healthy green vegetables like spinach, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage. These healthy greens are rich in fiber, which as we talked about before, will help to remove the cholesterol from your body, decrease plaque formation, and decrease atherosclerosis.
Spinach is also rich in lutein and carotenoids. And these are important antioxidants that help to protect your eyesight, but they also help to decrease inflammation in your blood vessels. So, not only do they help with cholesterol, but they also help to decrease inflammation which is another thing that leads to plaque formation and heart disease.
Not just any fish. Good old fatty fish loaded with omega threes. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are all excellent choices. Why? Because they help to decrease vascular inflammation in your blood vessels and also help to decrease bad cholesterol like the LDL and lower your triglycerides which are a type of fat in your blood that can increase your risk for heart disease. Meanwhile, they can help you to maintain a high level of good cholesterol. The HDL. On a side note, you don't want to get salty sardines because the excess salt can have too many negative effects.
You know, there are all kinds of ways you can use eggplant. You can have it just all by itself. You can saute it with some of the oils we talked about. You could actually make an Eggplant Parmesan with vegan cheese if you choose, and a low-sodium marinara sauce because it's another great way to lower your cholesterol naturally.
Eggplants are low in fat, they're high in fiber, and there are many animal studies to show that saponins help to decrease total cholesterol while maintaining a high good cholesterol.
Quinoa is a South African grain and it's pretty cool cause it can grow in a variety of climates. It's gluten-free. So if you have celiac disease, quinoa is going to be good for you. And of course, quinoa is loaded with fiber and so it helps to decrease bad cholesterol levels. Something interesting about quinoa, you have different types. You have the white quinoa, you have black quinoa, and actually the darker the quinoa, the more antioxidant properties.
Another interesting thing about quinoa is that when it's cooked, it can have a consistency that's similar to rice. And so I will oftentimes substitute my quinoa and have it instead of eating rice and that's a way that I can be heart healthy and help to lower cholesterol.
I love avocados. And you know, avocados are interesting because a lot of times when we talk about avocados, you're probably thinking about them in guacamole. You can definitely make healthy guacamole. But then if you go get fatty, salty chips, that cancels out all of the health benefits. And so I'll usually eat guacamole, all by itself without salt. I'll put a little pepper on it, a little bit of cayenne pepper, and mix it up that way. Avocado is excellent in lowering your cholesterol naturally because it has mono-unsaturated fatty acids. It helps to absorb that bad cholesterol and so avocado for many reasons, is a food that you want to have in your diet.
14. Plant-Based Oils
When it comes to plant-based oils, we're talking avocado oil, coconut oil, and flaxseed oil. All of these oils can help to lower your cholesterol. They're all high in healthy fats that actually help to increase the good cholesterol while they decrease the bad cholesterol.
Avocado oil is also a great source of lutein and carotenoids, those important antioxidants that help to decrease inflammation in your blood vessels. Coconut oil is also excellent for cooking because it has a high smoke point and it can help to increase your HDL or good cholesterol.
Some of these oils have mixed reviews and so you definitely want to consult with your physician to find out which oil is healthiest for you to cook with.
Research suggests that onions can help to lower your bad cholesterol while helping you to maintain high good cholesterol. They're also rich in antioxidants and sulfur compounds that help to improve your circulation and they can act as a blood thinner to help prevent clotting. And, as we talked about before, one of the leading causes of heart disease is inflammation and clotting in your arteries. So, onions are a great way to help decrease your risk.
So now we have talked about how to lower your cholesterol naturally and I have given you 15 foods for a healthy heart. If you found this article to be helpful and informative, please be sure to share it with the people you care about. Also, if you have not done so already, please be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and please follow me on Instagram @Dr.Frita where I let you know when I'm doing community service and when I'm going to be on national news. And I'll just let you know what's going on in my everyday life.
Also, please make sure that you listen to my podcast, "Healthy Happy Life" podcast with Dr. Frita. And, very importantly, be sure to purchase my book, "Under Pressure: a Guide to Controlling High Blood Pressure" where I give integrated fashions on how to lower blood pressure naturally, not just with medicines, but also with using food as medicine.