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How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally

Written by Health Writer Gerda Venter

Medically reviewed by Dr. Daniela Steyn

Cholesterol is a naturally occurring lipid (fatty substance) found in your bloodstream and all body cells. There are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is considered the "good" cholesterol because it helps remove cholesterol from the arteries and transport it to the liver, where it is broken down and eliminated from the body. LDL is considered the "bad" cholesterol because it can contribute to plaque formation on the inside of the arteries.

The body needs to maintain an average cholesterol level because cholesterol is used to produce hormones, vitamin D, and acids necessary for cell function. When cholesterol levels become too high, it can build up on the inside of your artery walls, narrowing the arteries and making it difficult for blood to flow. This build-up significantly increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.

There are many ways to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol naturally without medication. Let's look at some tried and tested methods:

1. Eat a Healthy Diet

Your body needs to have cholesterol because it is required to build new cells, produce hormones, and digest food. Cholesterol is made in the liver, and your body also gets cholesterol from food. Dietary cholesterol is a type of lipid that is found in food. Avoiding foods high in cholesterol is your first defense against high cholesterol levels. This includes fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and processed foods.

Here are three tips to lower cholesterol with your diet and help reduce your risk of heart disease:

1.1 Eat Foods Rich in Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber, such as pectin and gum found inside the plant cells, dissolves in water to form a gel-like paste. The gel-like paste softens stool and helps slow the movement of the digested material through the digestive tract. This increases nutrient absorption and provides a feeling of fullness for a longer period, therefore reducing overall calorie intake. Soluble fiber also binds to bile acids in the intestines and promotes their excretion. Because the liver filters cholesterol from the blood to produce bile acids, the more bile acids your body produces the lower your blood cholesterol level. Eating soluble fiber can therefore help regulate blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk for heart disease. In short, soluble fiber nourishes healthy probiotic gut bacteria and helps removes LDL cholesterol from the body. To help lower cholesterol, try to eat 35 g of fiber per day from fiber-rich foods.

Some of the best sources of soluble fiber include:

  • Oat cereal

  • Beans and lentils

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Fruits

  • Flaxseeds

1.2 Eat a Variety of Unsaturated Fats

There are two main kinds of fats found in food: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats pack together tightly and stay solid at room temperature. On the other hand, unsaturated fats do not join as tightly, making them liquid at room temperature. People who eat more unsaturated fats and fewer saturated fats tend to have lower cholesterol levels over time.

Foods that contain ample heart-healthy unsaturated fats include:

  • Avocados

  • Olives

  • Fatty fish