Achieving Healthy Cholesterol Levels, Naturally, Without Statins

by Leigh on March 20, 2013

pistachios cholesterol lowering foods

Pistachios make the list of natural cholesterol-lowering foods – just eat them unsalted!

There are a number of ways to lower total cholesterol levels and improve healthy cholesterol levels without resorting to statins or other medications with potentially fatal side-effects. Simple steps to take to reduce your risk of clogged arteries include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Eating a heart healthy diet
  • Avoiding smoking

Cholesterol-Lowering Dietary Changes

Just as lifestyle changes have benefits for lowering bad cholesterol and elevating low levels of good cholesterol to help remove the bad, dietary changes can also play a huge role in improving blood lipid levels naturally. A major cause of high cholesterol is eating animal products containing both cholesterol itself and high levels of saturated fats. These foods also contain no fibre, and with fibre being able to bind to cholesterol and remove it from the body before it even sees an artery this high animal product diet is a recipe for high cholesterol and poor heart health. Sugary foods and simple carbohydrates from white flour, pasta, bread, peeled potatoes and other non-fibrous foods are also contributors to the problem of cholesterol even in a diet devoid of animal products (plant foods contain no cholesterol).

Cholesterol-Lowering Foods

In addition to the inclusion of more fibrous foods such as oatbran, wholegrains and vegetables, there are other ways to lower cholesterol naturally. Polyunsaturated fats, found in many nuts and seeds, are able to lower levels of low density lipoprotein (the ‘bad’ cholesterol), some plants contain sterols and stanols (now also added into some functional foods like orange juice and margarine) which block cholesterol absorption. Other foods are actually thought to raise high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol to help remove the bad cholesterol, and other foods help reduce the risk of cholesterol oxidation that causes further arterial damage.

Specific foods to lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol include:

  • Oatmeal and oatbran
  • Olive oil
  • Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans and soy beans
  • Nuts and seeds like flaxseed, pistachios and walnuts
  • Eggplant, pears and okra
  • Blueberries, grapes, and cranberries
  • Garlic

In addition, certain foods can reduce the risk of cholesterol oxidation, which is when cholesterol becomes particularly dangerous. These foods, such as tomatoes, watermelon and papaya, contain specific antioxidants such as lycopene and are a great addition to a heart healthy diet.

Time’s Up for Statins

With heart disease killing an American every 34 seconds (PCRM) and high levels of bad cholesterol being a major factor in many of these deaths it’s time to stop sticking a statin band-aid on the problem and watching while everything else falls apart around it. Healthy cholesterol levels are achievable for almost everyone through diet and lifestyle measures alone and the added benefits for natural heart health are plain to see.

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