How to Naturally Lower Cholesterol
One of the problems with growing older, is that we seem to need an ever-growing pile of pills.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a way to better manage our health, without always having to resort to medication?
Thankfully, it IS possible to lower your cholesterol naturally by making wiser food choices – as diet and cholesterol is intimately linked.
What is High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is transported throughout the body inside a water-soluble package that are lipoproteins.
While often seen as the “bad guy”, our body needs cholesterol to support the production of cell membranes, hormones, bile and vitamin D.
The Link Between Diet and Cholesterol Levels
Our bodies are responsible for managing these levels in accordance with our needs – however, problems arise when our dietary intake of foods in particular those that influence these levels become excessive.
And the consequences can be deadly – such as heart attack and stroke.
Testing for High Cholesterol
Like hypertension, if your cholesterol levels are high it’s likely you won’t notice any symptoms – a blood test is the only way to know for sure.
However, the risk does tend to increase with age, and with the presence of any of these other factors:
- Family history;
- Being overweight;
- High blood pressure;
- Excessive alcohol consumption;
- Conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, polycystic ovaries, or an underactive thyroid.
Safe Cholesterol Levels
According to the Australian guidelines, your total cholesterol level should be no higher than 5.5 mmol per litre – or considerably less, depending on your risk factors. This total score takes into account the two different types of cholesterol found in the blood:
- LDL (low-density lipoproteins) or “bad cholesterol,” which has a greater impact on our arteries potentially dumping fatty deposits and stiffening our once flexible arteries.
- HDL (high-density lipoproteins), the so-called “good cholesterol”, as it helps to transport the build-up of cholesterol and sweeping it back to your liver for excretion. The level should be higher than 1.0 and less than 2.0mmol/L.
See a Fuel Your Life Dietitian to Help Improve High Cholesterol
While in some cases medication is still required, making some lifestyle changes with the help of a dietitian can lower your cholesterol level naturally and potentially reduce the risk of cardiac events.
At Fuel Your Life, we work with you to adjust your diet to ensure it includes a wide variety of fresh produce, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean sources of meat.
Rather than just learning about which foods to avoid (high fat, high salt), and which to eat sparingly (such as highly processed foods), you will also discover a range of tasty yet healthier alternatives. For example, you could swap butter for olive or canola oil when cooking, or switch to avocado, tahini or some of the nut butters as a spread.
Certain foods are even able to reduce the amount of “bad cholesterol” in your bloodstream – such as oats and barley, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables. Your dietitian can provide further guidance, as well as show you new ways to prepare them.
And let’s face it, eating a variety of great-tasting food is a lot more fun than popping a tablet!