Much research and attention has been focused on high levels of cholesterol in the blood and heart disease. Many people now rely on medication aimed at lowering lipid levels, or the levels of fat in the blood. However, health professionals are now questioning if this is the most advisable way to deal with high cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance in the blood that can lead to heart problems. We have “good” and “bad” cholesterol within our bodies: LDL the “bad” cholesterol and HDL the “good”. When cholesterol is too high and the ratio between LDL and HDL is not ideal, there are different options to consider.
Some turn to a class of medications known as statin; however there are risks and side effects associated with them including: headaches, nausea, constipation, muscle weakness and pain, liver and kidney stress and/or failure, and increased risk of diabetes.
Chicago Healers Practitioner Tiffany Triner, Assistant Nutritionist at Nutrition Connection Balance, LLC suggests several natural or holistic options that can also combat high cholesterol without the negative side effects. Some of the best options for lowering cholesterol are:
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: Fresh or frozen produce contain phytonutrients that help to prevent and repair cellular damage. They are scavengers for free radicals, which helps to protect our blood vessels. It is important to remember that fruits and vegetables are most beneficial when they are in their raw state. When cooking vegetables the best method to keep nutrients and enzymes from being destroyed is to lightly steam.
WHOLE GRAINS, BEANS, LEGUMES, NUTS AND SEEDS: Fiber is important in maintaining or reaching ideal cholesterol levels. Soluble fibers job is to bind to LDL (bad) cholesterol which is eventually excreted out of our systems. Soluble fiber sources are foods like nuts, beans, legumes, and oats to name a few.
FISH: The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish like salmon at least twice a week. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish help to lower the risk of heart disease.
SUPPLEMENTS AND HERBAL TREATMENTS: Red yeast rice with CoQ10 as well as plant sterols help to naturally lower cholesterol levels. You should always consult with a health professional before starting any supplement routine.
STAYING ACTIVE: Being active has been shown to raise the “good” cholesterol and lower the “bad”. If you are someone who does not currently incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, start by taking small steps such as taking a 15 minute walk everyday and working up from there.
It’s important to keep in mind that cholesterol has positive and essential roles within our bodies. Turning to a cholesterol-free diet and avoiding even healthy fats is not a safe method of health care. Make sure you’re monitoring your cholesterol levels, and if they are elevated, taking steps towards a heart healthy diet and exercise routine should be the first line of defense.
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