The leading causes of death in the world are heart disease and stroke; both are linked to high cholesterol. Let’s learn what it is: the nine causes of high cholesterol, and the 10 natural foods to help reduce it.
As there are no early obvious symptoms to high blood cholesterol so you maybe unaware that you have it. Best to get your cholesterol checked to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
The infographic below reveals safe and unsafe levels:
“Seventy-one million American adults have high cholesterol, but only one-third of them have the condition under control,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs to function.
- It helps make the outer coating of cells.
- It makes up the bile acids that work to digest food in the intestine.
- It allows the body to make Vitamin D and hormones, like estrogen in women and testosterone in men.
It has been found that too much of this fat-like substance cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries and form blockages under certain conditions. This can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
There are two kinds of cholesterol:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) called ‘good cholesterol’.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) called ‘bad cholesterol’.
Learn what you can do to prevent high cholesterol or to reduce your bad cholesterol level.
What we eat is a major cause of bad cholesterol build-up in the body.
The Bad: 9 Things Commonly Known to Increase High Cholesterol
1. Saturated fats and oils. Limit butter, bacon drippings, lard and palm oil.
2. Excessive weight. Being overweight can increase your bad cholesterol level.
4. Drink alcohol in moderation. When you drink alcohol you increase the number of free radicals in your body and create a toxic environment for your liver. Moderate use of alcohol may increase your levels of HDL cholesterol but does not lower LDL cholesterol.
5. Limit fatty meats. Stay away from bacon, corned beef, ground meat, steak, hot dogs, sausages and processed meats like bologna.
6. Don’t smoke. “A chemical found in cigarettes called acrolein stops HDL from transporting fatty deposits to the liver, leading to narrowing of the arteries,” according to NHS UK.
7. Reduce Caffeine. Caffeine stimulates your body and raises your heart rate.
8. Eliminate snacks made with saturated or hydrogenated fat. Skip foods like crackers, muffins, quick breads, croissants and cake.
9. Avoid fast foods. Fries, hamburgers, fried chicken and tacos are high in total fat and saturated fat.
It is obvious from the above list that it is mostly unhealthy foods that are the culprit when it comes to healthy cholesterol levels. Almost EVERY degenerative disease is related to an unhealthy life style.
The Good: 10 Foods Recommended to Naturally Decrease High Cholesterol
1. Oats are full of soluble fiber which helps bring down bad cholesterol and keep arteries flexible. Manufacturers of oats and oatmeal are allowed to state these products are “heart healthy” by the FDA. Warning: adding enough sugar and fat in breakfast cereals and oatmeal bars turns oatmeal into a junk food.
2. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. In a 2014 study, those who ate 1.5 ounces of whole walnuts 6 days a week for 1 month lowered their total cholesterol by 5.4 percent and LDL cholesterol by 9.3 percent. The nuts were not salted or coated with sugar.
4. Eat fruit. Gravitate toward citrus, which is full of pectin. Pectin turns into soluble fiber to carry the cholesterol out of your body. Other fruits like apples and grapes can help raise the level of antioxidants in your blood and reduce cholesterol’s ability to do any damage. Keep in mind, fresh fruit is much better than canned.
5. Drink tea to help to keep blood vessels relaxed and prevent blood clots. The flavonoids in tea prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol that leads to plaque formation on artery walls.
6. Chocolate is full of powerful antioxidants and helps build HDL cholesterol levels. A 2007 study found that those who were given cocoa powder had a 24 percent increase in HDL levels, compared with a 5 percent increase in the control group. Note they eat cocoa, not chocolate bars full of sugar and milk.
7. Spinach contains lots of lutein. Research suggests that just 1/2 cup of a lutein-rich food daily, guards against heart attacks by preventing artery walls from getting clogged.
8. Avocados are full of monounsaturated fat, which may actually help raise HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL. This superfood is full of beta-sitosterol, a beneficial plant-based fat that reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food. Avocados are high in calories and fat so try to stick to one per day.
9. Garlic can lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots and lower high blood pressure. Garlic also prevents artery-clogging plaque in its early stage by keeping cholesterol particles from sticking to artery walls.
Bonus Food: salmon & fatty fish are full of omega-3 fats that have been found to lower cholesterol. Replacing saturated fats with omega-3s like those found in salmon, sardines, and herring can raise good cholesterol as much as 4 percent according to research from Loma Linda University. This is for you non-vegetarians.