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High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Medications can help improve your cholesterol. Sometimes, it’s important to lower cholesterol — naturally. If you'd rather first make natural ways to improve your cholesterol, try these six healthy ways.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in the walls of cells in all parts of the body, from the nervous system to the liver to the heart. The body uses cholesterol to make hormones, bile acids, vitamin D, and other substances.
The body makes all the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream but cannot travel by itself. As with oil and water, cholesterol (which is fatty) and blood (which is watery) do not mix. So cholesterol travels in packages called lipoproteins, which have fat (lipid) inside and protein outside
Total starchy food and carbohydrate intake are associated with metabolic syndrome, a condition identified by high cholesterol and other factors that equate to higher heart disease risk.
Losing body weight helps to reduce triglycerides and increase HDL levels. That type of minimal (but significant) weight loss doesn’t typically impact LDL cholesterol numbers but can improve your overall cholesterol ratios.
Moderate alcohol intake is associated with higher HDL levels. However, when it comes to alcohol, stick to red wine for its many health benefits — beers and liquors, particularly sugary drink mixers, don’t hold much in the way of nutrition.
Keep your alcohol intake limited, but don’t be afraid to imbibe regularly with red wine, especially organic wine.
Smoking is one of those things that tends to lower your HDL levels while raising LDL cholesterol, making it an unacceptable risk to take if you’re at risk of heart disease.
Performing either medium-intensity resistance exercise or high-intensity aerobic exercise increases your HDL levels. Exercise typically will help to support losing or maintaining weight, another reason this is a good habit to rehearse as you protect your heart.
There are a number of supplements that may help you achieve normal cholesterol levels.
Niacin: While you should ideally get enough niacin (vitamin B3) through a healthy diet (found richly in beef liver, chicken breast, tuna, sunflower seeds and grass-fed beef), you may also choose to use it in supplement form. Niacin is frequently prescribed alongside statin medications. Large studies have suggested that time-released niacin helps to reduce LDL levels, raise HDL levels, reduce triglycerides and even reduce VLDL particles (by up to 68 percent!).
Be careful, though — niacin does come with side effects including flushing, discomfort, itching, skin tingling, gastrointestinal problems, muscle issues and liver dysfunction. It may also not reduce the number of heart events, despite its ability to reduce high cholesterol.
Red Yeast Rice: Another controversial supplement, red yeast rice, acts like statins but without as many of the undesirable side effects. In a 2015 research study, red yeast rice prevented weight gain and improved hyperlipidemia overall, meaning it lowered overall cholesterol (and probably high LDL levels).
Lemongrass Essential Oil: Essential oils are powerful substances, and lemongrass oil is no exception. This essential oil has been observed in multiple research studies to lower overall, LDL and VLDL cholesterol while raising HDL cholesterol levels. It does not seem to affect triglyceride levels.