How to Lower Cholesterol
If your doctor has tested your cholesterol level and told you it is high they will mean the Low Density (LDL) cholesterol level is too high. The doctor will not be referring to your High Density (HDL) cholesterol level. Alternatively, you may have done the test at home, using a cholesterol testing kit, and discovered the problem. The important thing is not how the problem was brought to light, it is how you deal with it and, considering the possible implications (heart attack, stroke), this should be dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If the doctor is sufficiently worried he or she may prescribe statin drugs, but many people are reluctant to live with the side effects statins can sometimes cause. So they often seek statin alternatives that can naturally lower cholesterol levels without side effects.
Statins and supplements may be seen as a quick fix solution, but in the long run improving dietary habits is one of the best ways to lower cholesterol and protect the long-term health.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines state:
A Low Cholesterol Diet
Making a change from butter or margarine, to olive oil, can dramatically reduce the amount of cholesterol consumed each day. Yoghurt is better than cream, grilling or steaming is healthier than frying, and low fat milk is definitely the way to go.
Burgers and fries are a strict no-no, as are pizzas, and commercially produced cakes and biscuits often contain hydrogenated fats. Crisps and nuts are bad. Pretzels and fresh (or dried) fruit is better—or try a few carrot sticks, they may help you to see better in the dark.
Some Foods that Lower Cholesterol
- Artichoke: Artichoke tea can lower cholesterol (source). The tea is quick and easy to make, simply steep 100g of artichoke leaves in a litre of boiling water and leave to brew for five to ten minutes.
- Pumpkin Seed Oil: Another natural ingredient that can lower cholesterol, pumpkin oil seed contains essential fatty acids that inhibit the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver (source).
- Olive Oil: A source of heart-healthy antioxidants, olive oil can lower LDL cholesterol without interfering with the existing levels of HD (source). This being the case, a switch to olive oil (especially extra virgin olive oil) for cooking is always a sensible choice.
- Chilli Peppers: Who said spicy food is bad for you? The capsaicin provided by chilli peppers also has the ability to lower cholesterol (source) and can help burn off excess body as well. As a health enhancer, capsaicin is a hot property! Capsicum peppers are also capsaicin providers, so if you can't stand the heat stay in the kitchen, dice up some peppers, and have a nice healthy salad.
- Oats: Some early morning oats can be the perfect way to start the day. Not only are oats a good source of complex carbohydrates that will provide plenty of energy, studies reveal oats contain a form of dietary fibre called β-glucan. And guess what? It is very good at lowering LDL cholesterol levels (source).