Having high cholesterol is a major concern for many Australians as it is known to contribute significantly to chronic heart disease and other harmful conditions. It is also very prevalent, with studies showing that, in 2013, roughly 5.6 million Australians had high levels of cholesterol.
The good news is that there are many ways that you can help lower cholesterol naturally, and that are very easy to integrate into your day-to-day life. Many of these are very effective in lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and boosting levels of HDL (good cholesterol). If you would like to read more about the difference between HDL and LDL, we recommend reading our helpful guide on the subject.
But if you are well-versed on all things cholesterol, let’s dive straight in. Here are 10 easy ways to help lower cholesterol naturally.
Reduce Consumption of Saturated Fat and Trans Fats
Saturated fat intake influences your LDL cholesterol level more than anything else in your diet and should be limited as much as possible. This includes fatty meats (such as beef, pork and lamb, processed meats like salami, sausages and chicken skin), full cream dairy products (such as butter, milk and cream), deep fried food, processed cakes, biscuits and pastries.
Trans fatty acids (known simply as trans fats) influence both your LDL and HDL levels and should be limited as much as possible too. Trans fats are found in many fried, processed and takeaway foods (such as burgers and fries, frozen pizza, biscuits and cakes). Some foods contain both saturated fat and trans fat – these should be eliminated from your diet completely.
Regular exercise is very important for helping lower cholesterol levels. During physical exertion, the fatty content of lipoproteins in your body are consumed for energy, which is great for lowering LDL. Physical activity also can help you raise your HDL cholesterol level, which is very important for reducing the risk of chronic heart disease.
Eat More Soluble Fibre
There are two different types of fibre – soluble and insoluble, and the former can help lower your LDL levels. Whole grains, beans and legumes, bran, cereals, and brown or wild rice are an excellent source of soluble fibre. Many of these are easily substituted for common foods we eat – simply eat whole grain bread instead of white; brown or wild rice instead of white rice; or add lentils to rice dishes or salads. Fruits prunes, apples, and pears are high in fibre and can boost your HDL and lower your LDL levels too!
Use Olive Oil Instead of Other Oils or Fats
Olive oil is an excellent alternative to using butter or coconut oil for cooking as it contains unsaturated (monounsaturated) fat, which lowers the impact of LDL on your body, and can increase your HDL levels.
Take Natural Complementary Medicine
There are natural complementary medicines that can help boost HDL and lower LDL levels. Cuban Policosanol is isolated and purified from a natural source, Cuban sugar cane wax, that studies have shown can reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol within the normal cholesterol range. When incorporated into a healthy regime of a balanced diet with plenty of exercise, this can be an extremely effective way of managing cholesterol levels. Read more about Policosanol here.
Eat Less Red Meat and More Fatty Fish
Red meats contain a higher proportion of saturated fat than fish and poultry, and should be consumed less. Instead, eat omega-3-rich fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that can lower LDL and increase HDL.
Eat More Seeds and Nuts
Many seeds and nuts, such as chia seeds, flax seeds, almonds, pistachios, and peanuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fibre. Try incorporating these into your diet to help increase HDL and lower LDL levels.
Substitute Meat For a Plant-Based Diet
Switching to a plant-based diet is a very effective way to cover a lot of bases mentioned above. By cutting out meat, you will naturally gravitate towards plant-based products, such as soy, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds for sustenance. In terms of your cholesterol levels, you are effectively killing two birds with one stone!
Smoking is detrimental to your health in multitude of ways. Studies have shown that smokers have significantly lower HDL levels than non-smokers, while non-smokers have higher HDL levels. Studies have also shown that smokers who quit experience a boost in HDL after they do so.
Switch To Red Wine And Drink Alcohol In Moderation
Red wine contains no cholesterol and, in terms of your health, is a great alternative to beer and sugary alcoholic drinks. Some studies have even shown that those who drink in moderation have higher levels of HDL. However, excess drinking can increase levels of triglycerides in your body – and the lower your triglyceride level, the better. So keep it to a glass a day at most.