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How to Reduce Bad Cholesterol
Wondering how to control high cholesterol? Know by understanding what cholesterol is. Cholesterol is naturally produced in your liver in appropriate amounts. This wax-like fat substance plays numerous vital functions, like building cells, helping in making essential vitamins and hormones etc. While your body needs cholesterol, excess amounts can create problems. Similar to fat, even cholesterol doesn’t dissolve in water and moves around the body on molecules called lipoproteins. They also carry essential fat-soluble vitamins and fat in your blood.
Not all lipoproteins have the same effect on health. For example, High-density lipoprotein (HDL) carries cholesterol away from vessel walls, preventing clogged arteries, heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems. But Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) leads to cholesterol deposits in blood vessels that can lead to kidney failure, clogged arteries, heart attack, stroke, and more health complications.
To maintain good health, you must maintain high HDL and low LDL levels. If you are looking for viable ways on ‘how to control blood cholesterol,’ this article will give you all the answers. We have listed below ten natural ways to reduce cholesterol that will provide you with visible results over a period. So let’s quickly explore the ways discussed below.
Table of Contents
The Link Between Dietary and Blood Cholesterol
Your liver produces enough cholesterol to fulfill your body’s requirements. It generally packages fat and cholesterol, creating VLDL or very low-density lipoproteins. As they deliver the required fat throughout the body, it starts changing into LDL and carries cholesterol to where it is needed. The liver also releases good cholesterol, or HDL, which helps bring unused cholesterol back to your liver. This process is known as the reverse cholesterol transport and helps protect the body against clogged arteries and other heart diseases.
Lipoproteins like VLDL and LDL are more exposed to damage by free radicals during oxidation. It is why oxidized VLDL and LDL are considered harmful to heart health. Food companies generally advertise their products as ‘low cholesterol,’ but studies reveal that dietary cholesterol has little influence on the body’s total cholesterol levels. It happens because the liver changes cholesterol production, depending on what and precisely how much you eat.
So if you eat a cholesterol-rich diet, your liver will produce less cholesterol. It is why notable organizations like the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025) no longer recommend specific levels of dietary cholesterol consumption. The guidelines now focus on limiting saturated fat consumption.
Although dietary cholesterol has little influence on your blood cholesterol levels, other factors like age, heavy alcohol consumption, family history, smoking, and sedentary lifestyle do. Healthy lifestyle changes can significantly help improve your good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol levels.
14 Ways on How to reduce bad cholesterol?
Looking for the best ways to reduce cholesterol naturally? We have them for you. Adopting healthy lifestyle changes is the only natural way to control your cholesterol levels efficiently. You can witness great results if you adopt the following lifestyle changes:
1. Eat Monounsaturated Fats
Some professionals recommend taking a low-fat diet to shed extra weight and control cholesterol levels. Still, the research studies conducted until now show mixed responses to the effectiveness of such diets. While a low-fat diet can help reduce cholesterol levels, it can generally increase triglycerides and lower HDL levels.
But consuming a diet rich in monounsaturated fat helps reduce LDL levels and boost HDL levels. Food items high in monounsaturated fat also help in the reduction of oxidation of cholesterol, leading to reduced harmful oxidation. You can increase the intake of monounsaturated fat by eating more nut butter, olive oil, canola oil, olives, avocados, and nuts like walnuts, cashews, macadamias, and pecans.
2. Avoid Eating Trans Fat
These are unsaturated fat modified using the hydrogenation process. They are also called partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fat is handled differently by our body, and in most cases, not in a good way. If you consume too much trans fat, your total cholesterol and LDL levels will increase, but HDL levels will decrease. If you want to control your cholesterol levels, you should limit or stop eating microwaveable popcorn, pizzas, pastries, non-dairy coffee creamer, fried fast food, etc.
3. Doing Moderate to High-Intensity Exercises
One of the highly effective natural ways to control cholesterol levels is exercising regularly. It helps improve physical fitness levels, combats obesity, and reduces harmful LDL levels. Exercising regularly can also help increase HDL levels. The American Heart Association generally recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. You can start with moderate aerobic exercises or combine them with resistance training. If you cannot begin with moderate or high-intensity workouts, you can start with simple activities like brisk walking. The longer you exercise, the greater benefits you’ll experience
4. Include More Polyunsaturated Fat in Your Diet
These fats have multiple double bonds, making them act differently in our bodies than saturated fats. Regular polyunsaturated fat consumption can help reduce LDL and significantly lower the risk of heart disease. They are also effective in reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and other health concerns. Polyunsaturated fat, especially omega-3 fatty acids, is considered heart-healthy. You can find them in many seafood and fish oil supplements.
5. Quit Smoking
Smoking invites numerous health concerns; one of them is the increased levels of bad cholesterol. Smoking also increases the risk of heart disease. The immune walls in smokers fail to return cholesterol to the blood from vessel walls, so it can get transported to the liver. The dysfunctional immune cells contribute to the faster development of blocked or clogged arteries. Cigarettes contain acrolein, a toxic substance that can enter the bloodstream, impairing HDL levels. It makes you prone to heart disease and also increases LDL levels. You can control your cholesterol levels if you stop smoking.
6. Try Healthy Supplements
Soluble fiber and fish oil can help improve cholesterol levels and promote healthy heart health. You can take supplements like fish oil, Psyllium, Coenzyme Q10, and more to reduce your potential risk of heart disease and improve cholesterol levels. These supplements help unblock clogged arteries, reduce high blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels. You can consult your doctor to determine the best supplement based on your health conditions.
7. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity opens doors to numerous health problems, and increasing your risk of high cholesterol levels is one of them. Every 4 to 5 kg of extra weight or fat leads to an increased 10 mg of cholesterol every day. Fortunately, you can control your cholesterol levels by losing excess weight. If you can shed 5% to 10% of your total weight, your cholesterol and triglyceride levels can significantly drop. Weight loss has double benefits as it increases good cholesterol and reduces bad cholesterol. You can consult a certified nutritionist or talk to your doctor to design a personalized health plan to reduce overall weight. Exercising can also be part of the plan for faster results.
8. Consider Stanols and Plant Sterols
Like cholesterol, stanols and plant sterols are plant cholesterols that are absorbed into the blood from a regular diet. Since their chemistry is widely different from human cholesterol, plant cholesterols don’t lead to clogged arteries. When plant cholesterols are absorbed, they replace the absorption of human cholesterol. Although numerous clinical trials highlight the efficiency of stanols and plant sterols in reducing the risk of heart diseases, more data is needed to reach a consensus.
9. Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
When it comes to alcohol, it is easy to encounter mixed reactions. For example, some research pieces believe drinking alcohol in moderation can increase HDL levels, but the American Heart Association and CDC think otherwise. They don’t recommend consuming alcohol to control cholesterol levels. According to the American Heart Association, your triglyceride and LDL increase with high alcohol consumption, making you vulnerable to heart diseases. If you are trying to efficiently reduce your cholesterol levels, limit your intake or stop drinking altogether.
10. Eat More Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is a group of compounds found in the plant that can be easily dissolved in water. Good bacteria need these fibers in your intestines for their nutrition. If you consume more soluble fiber, the good bacteria in your intestines can work efficiently to reduce LDL levels. They can also increase the benefit attached to taking a statin medication. Beans, lentils, flaxseeds, oat cereals, fruits, and peas are rich sources of soluble fiber.
11. Eating Heart-Healthy Food
Eating heart-healthy food is the biggest way to control your cholesterol levels naturally. The thumb rule is to reduce or eliminate food items containing high levels of saturated fat and trans fat. You can instead include more items high in soluble fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, walnuts, kidney beans, apples, mackerel, flaxseeds, pears, and Brussels sprouts are some healthy food items you can include in your diet. The consumption of fried and baked food needs to be restricted.
12. Improve Your Physical Activity Levels
Exercising regularly is a time-tested way to improve your good cholesterol levels. You should exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day. If you are starting, try exercising for three days a week, then increase it to 5 days a week. The exercises should be of moderate to high intensity to get visible results over time. Even if you cannot start with rigorous workouts, you can start brisk walking for 30 minutes a day, playing your favorite sport, or riding your bicycle to work. Finding an accountability partner or exercise buddy can help you stay consistent with your workout plan.
13. Lose Weight
If you’re looking for practical answers to ‘how to reduce cholesterol in body,’ we’d say start by losing weight. When you carry extra weight in your body, it contributes to high cholesterol. You can start by taking small steps to lose weight, like not drinking sugary beverages, picking healthier alternatives to your favorite high-fat food items, including more activity levels in your daily routine, etc. With consistent efforts, you can shed extra weight, eventually reducing cholesterol levels in your body.
14. Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Moderate alcohol consumption isn’t harmful. It, in fact, is linked with high HDL levels. However, the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol consumption to those who don’t. Too much alcohol consumption is dangerous for your health and can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, increased risk of heart failure, strokes, and more.
These are some effective yet natural ways to control high cholesterol levels. You should follow all these methods together for faster and better results.
Difference Between Good and Bad Cholesterol
You cannot maintain healthy cholesterol levels until you understand the difference between good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. To help you better understand both, we have created the following table highlighting the main difference between the two.
|Good Cholesterol (HDL)||Bad Cholesterol (LDL)|
|Good cholesterol, also known as high-density lipoprotein, is considered beneficial for health because it helps remove excess cholesterol from arteries, transporting it back to the liver for removal from the body.||Bad cholesterol, also known as LDL or low-density lipoprotein, is considered harmful to health because it can build up in artery walls, increasing the risk of heart disease and strokes.|
|High HDL levels are associated with a lower or reduced risk of heart disease and other health problems.||High levels of LDL are associated with significantly higher risks of heart disease and other health problems.|
|HDL or good cholesterol is produced by the liver but can also be obtained from food items lower in trans fat and saturated fat. Eating food items high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat can help increase HDL levels.||LDL, or bad cholesterol, is produced naturally in the liver, but it can also be obtained from food items high in saturated fat and trans fat.|
|Ideal or healthy HDL levels are considered to be 60 mg/dL or higher.||Ideal or healthy LDL levels are considered to be lower than 100 mg/dL.|
|High levels of HDL can reverse atherosclerosis.||High levels of LDL lead to atherosclerosis.|
Although the difference between good and bad cholesterol is stark, the natural remedies to bring both under healthy levels are the same. For example, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, lowering stress, limiting alcohol consumption, and taking effective herbs can help lower bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels.
Is There a Need to Take Medicine to Control Cholesterol?
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is the first defense if you are looking for effective cholesterol management ways. But exercising and following a healthy diet cannot be enough to control cholesterol levels in some cases. In such situations, people must take cholesterol medicines prescribed by their doctor. Your doctor may recommend a drug or more, depending on your cholesterol levels, desired goals, and overall health condition. Generally, a doctor may also assess your risk of developing heart diseases in the coming years, and if the likelihood is high, medicines can be prescribed.
Who Needs Medical Treatment for Cholesterol?
People with dangerously high cholesterol levels or at an increased risk of developing high cholesterol levels should get medical treatment for cholesterol. You can only determine whether your cholesterol levels are healthy, at high risk, or at dangerously high levels after taking a cholesterol test like a lipid panel test. The results would highlight who needs medical treatment. Generally, the following people should be given medical treatment to maintain good health.
- People whose LDL levels are 190 mg/dL or higher
- People who have already had a stroke, heart attack, or peripheral arterial disease
- Older adults (40-75 years) who have diabetes and LDL levels are beyond 70mg/dL
- Older adults (40-75 years) who are at higher risk of developing heart diseases or stroke and have LDL levels exceeding 70mg/dL
If any of these discussed conditions apply to you, contact your doctor at the earliest and get your cholesterol levels checked.
Side Effects of Cholesterol Medicine
If you are taking medicines to keep your good and bad cholesterol at healthy levels, you may not always feel good because of some temporary side effects that these drugs bring along. Although not everyone faces side effects due to cholesterol medicines, some do. Irrespective of the medication you are taking, you may experience the following common side effects:
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle soreness
- Problems sleeping
- Rash or flushed skin
- Muscle pain
These are common side effects you may face while taking cholesterol medicines. But some people may experience severe side effects as well. If you have been prescribed statin, these drugs may cause liver and muscle damage. These are rare side effects, so you shouldn’t give up taking medicines because of these potential side effects. If you are experiencing any side effects, talk to your doctor. Professionals will determine the exact cause behind the side effects and change the medicine (if needed).
Keeping Cholesterol within Healthy Levels
Cholesterol is essential as it helps the body perform numerous functions, but excess can lead to multiple health problems, like clogged arteries, high blood pressure, etc. While HDL or good cholesterol levels protect your body by taking away extra cholesterol from vessel walls to the liver, LDL or bad cholesterol can increase your likelihood of heart disease. When your cholesterol levels go out of balance, adopting healthy lifestyle changes should always be the ideal, first line of treatment.
You can start exercising regularly to improve your activity levels, consume more soluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, lower stress levels, reduce saturated fat consumption, and limit alcohol intake to see visible improvements. Losing weight can also help control your cholesterol levels. If you are an adult, we recommend getting your cholesterol levels checked routinely for timely diagnosis and early treatment for the best results.
How Often Should I Get my Cholesterol Tested?
Healthy adults should get their cholesterol tested every five to six years. But if you have any heart diseases, a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes, or any other health condition, you should get your cholesterol levels checked often. It is recommended to consult your doctor and keep taking tests as per his recommendation.
What is Considered Dangerously High Cholesterol?
A person will be categorized in a high-risk category for high cholesterol if his total cholesterol levels exceed 240 mg/dL. If the HDL levels are lower than 40 mg/dL and bad cholesterol (LDL) are higher than 160 mg/dL, the person is at dangerously high cholesterol level and requires immediate medical treatment.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol in 30 Days?
Although it might be impossible to lower cholesterol levels within 30 days in all cases, you can notice a slight improvement by consistently following some effective natural remedies. Eating a healthy diet low in saturated fat and trans fat, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, losing weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and reducing stress are some time-tested ways to lower your cholesterol levels.
What Reduces Cholesterol Quickly?
Your diet and activity levels play a crucial role in reducing high cholesterol levels. Reducing intake of foods high in trans fat and saturated fat, consuming more food high in omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fiber, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, and lowering stress levels are excellent ways to quickly reduce cholesterol. However, some cases may require medication to lower cholesterol levels, so ensure you get a personalized treatment plan designed by a doctor.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.