Did you know that every 1 in 3 Americans has high cholesterol? That’s crazy!
It’s not surprising when you consider the overwhelming obesity epidemic that we have brought upon ourselves. Poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking are 3 of the biggest indicators that you could be at risk for high cholesterol.
Although high cholesterol can be inherited, most of the time that’s not the case.
So what is cholesterol anyways?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the fats in your blood. Although cholesterol is needed for building healthy cells, too much can put you at risk for heart disease. Cholesterol is carried through our blood and is attached to proteins, this combination is called a lipoprotein. I’m sure you have heard of “bad” vs “good” cholesterol, but do you understand what that means?
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol transports cholesterol particles throughout your body. LDL cholesterol builds up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL, or “good,” cholesterol picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.
So, what’s my advice? What’s the secret to lowering cholesterol?
1.) Lose Weight
As simple as it may seem, this is the most effective tool to lowering cholesterol. High
body fat has a strong correlation with high cholesterol. Take an honest assessment of
yourself, do you have high cholesterol and are you overweight? If so, it’s time to start
actively working towards lowering body fat. Believe it or not, weight loss is actually way
more effective than cholesterol lowering medications like statin drugs. So start
sleeping at least 7 hours per night, drink at least ½ of your body weight in fluid ounces
of water, eat good quality food in quantities that support your lifestyle, exercise 3-5
days per week or at least walk 10,000 steps per day, keep the alcohol
to social settings, and start living your best life once and for all!
Dietary fiber is essential for getting your cholesterol problem in check. Vegetables,
unprocessed whole grains, and legumes are all great sources of dietary fiber. Try
different challenges like filling up ½ of your plate with vegetables each meal or eating 1
cup of beans each day. Most importantly, track your dietary intake on a food log
application for at least a few days to ensure you are eating an adequate amount each
Day. 30-45 grams of fiber per day is recommended, woman being on
the lower end and males on the higher end.
I will preface this with the fact that most people should be able to lower cholesterol
through lowering body fat and increasing dietary fiber intake alone, but there are some
people that do need supplemental assistance. The first is called “no flush” Niacin. This
supplement has been shown to raise “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol.
Policosanols, which are naturally occurring plant sterols have also been shown to
lower cholesterol. Again, these should be considered as last resort.
As you can see, the 3 steps to naturally lowering cholesterol aren’t exactly sexy. It’s not some quick fix or magic pill. The answer is fixing the root of the problem. Don’t go crazy, identify you’re biggest issue. What is your worst habit?
Too much fast food?
Drink too much?
Whatever it is, start there.
As always, consult with your doctor. I am completely aware that some people need medication, but I am also aware that there are way too many people being prescribed medication without addressing the root of the problem. Statin drugs might work in the short term, but they also come along with a host of side effects and do not provide a long-term solution.
Live YOUR best life,