Cholesterol supports many essential bodily functions, but high levels can lead to health issues. Dietary measures, exercise, and sleep may all help lower cholesterol levels, although some people will also need medication.
According to the
Having high cholesterol does not cause symptoms, but it can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Doctors
Studies have shown that statins
This article explores some natural ways to lower cholesterol without medication. It also discusses what cholesterol is and why high levels can be harmful.
Trans unsaturated fatty acids (trans fats) are unsaturated fats that have undergone an industrial process known as hydrogenation, which involves heating vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen and a catalyst. Food manufacturers use trans fats because they are relatively inexpensive and long-lasting.
Sources of trans fats may include:
- vegetable shortening
- partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
- fried foods
- certain processed and prepackaged foods
According to the
LDL cholesterol can accumulate in the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream.
Saturated fats generally stay
- red meat
- chicken with the skin on
- cheese and other dairy products
- cooking oils, such as palm oil and coconut oil
The AHA recommends that saturated fat should only represent about
Excess LDL cholesterol can
Nuts and some other types of food
- nuts, such as almonds, peanuts, and Brazil nuts
- vegetable oils, such as olive, peanut, sesame, and safflower oils
The researchers of a
However, the researchers highlighted that further conclusive research is necessary as the study results came from observational findings.
Polyunsaturated fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Both omega-3 and omega-6 are known as essential fatty acids. Essential refers to the fact that the body cannot produce these oils, and a person can only get them directly from food sources.
Evidence notes that consuming these fats instead of saturated fat can have a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol levels by reducing LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL cholesterol.
Dietary sources of polyunsaturated fats
Eating foods high in fiber can be
When a person consumes soluble fiber, it absorbs water and creates a thick, gel-like paste in a person’s intestines. This gel helps to support digestive health and also aids in trapping fats, meaning the body cannot absorb them. As such, soluble fiber can help to lower levels of LDL cholesterol.
Foods rich in soluble fiber include:
- whole grains, such as oatmeal and brown rice
According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most Americans do not consume the recommended amount of dietary fiber. The recommended amount is around 28 grams a day based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet.
However, it is worth noting that consuming too much soluble fiber may lead to constipation, bloating, and stomach pain. People should try to increase their soluble fiber intake gradually over time.
Regular exercise benefits a person’s health in many ways. This includes helping to lower bad cholesterol levels and raising good cholesterol levels.
For example, the results of a
People new to exercise may want to start with lower-intensity activities and gradually build the intensity of their workouts. Additionally, individuals with chronic conditions or disabilities
Getting enough good-quality sleep is important for health. How much sleep a person requires changes with age, and research suggests that most adults should aim for
However, researchers are still trying to understand how sleep affects cholesterol. Some
Overall, poor sleep duration and quality appear to negatively impact cholesterol, but it is not clear exactly why or how it does. Therefore, it may be beneficial for general health and cholesterol management for a person to develop good sleep hygiene practices.
Smoking can lead to high cholesterol levels as it can reduce the circulating level of HDL.
Additionally, the chemicals present in cigarette smoke can cause LDL to become stickier and also
By quitting smoking, a person
Regularly drinking water and getting sufficient amounts is
The liver plays a key role in managing cholesterol levels as it helps to break down cholesterol. If the liver is not able to function correctly then it may cause cholesterol to build up in the body.
Learn more about drinks that may help lower cholesterol here.
- the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone
- vitamin D
- bile acids, which help the body digest fats
The liver naturally produces all of the cholesterol that the body needs. However, certain foods contain cholesterol, and other foods can trigger the liver to produce more of it.
High levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits building up on the walls of arteries, which increases a person’s risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
HDL cholesterol collects LDL cholesterol and other fats from the arteries and transports them back to the liver. The liver disposes of excess cholesterol by converting it into a digestive fluid called bile.
Although people should aim to have more HDL cholesterol than LDL cholesterol, experts recommend that adults keep their blood levels of total cholesterol below 200 milligrams per deciliter.
Cholesterol supports many essential bodily functions, such as cell membrane formation and hormone production. However, having high levels of LDL cholesterol can increase a person’s risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
People can naturally lower their cholesterol levels by adopting
This can include changing the types of fats they eat, consuming soluble fiber, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, maintaining healthy body weight, limiting alcohol intake, and getting enough good-quality sleep.