Having spent over 2 decades as a leader in Whole Foods Market, I slowly became and expert not only on food, but overall wellness and natural remedies as well. This post is also my personal journey in lowering my cholesterol
Looking for tips on how to reduce cholesterol levels quickly?
I think you’ll agree with me that there’s nothing scarier than a bad medical diagnosis.
High cholesterol means we are at an elevated risk for heart disease, heart attack or stroke. Even if you are young and in reasonable health, this diagnosis can sneak up on us.
But it’s not all bleak.
We aren’t doomed to a life of oatmeal and medication. You can still enjoy many of the foods you love. While you should always follow the advice of your doctor, I believe you can find ways to effectively manage cholesterol levels without drugs.
In this post, we’re looking at some sobering high cholesterol causes and statistics.
But more importantly, we’re reviewing some key steps and tips on how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally. Tips that won’t leave you feeling lost and deprived and can help you effectively manage your health.
The worst risk factors for high cholesterol
According to the Mayo Clinic some of the factors within our control that can cause high cholesterol are inactivity, obesity, and an unhealthy diet.
Risk factors include:
- Poor diet (high in saturated/trans fat)
- Large waist circumference (over 40 for men)
- Lack of exercise
According to the CDC, the recommended numbers are as follows:
|Desirable Cholesterol Levels2|
|Total cholesterol||Less than 200 mg/dL|
|LDL (“bad” cholesterol)||Less than 100 mg/dL|
|HDL (“good” cholesterol)||60 mg/dL or higher|
|Triglycerides||Less than 150 mg/dL|
How I’ve tried to reduce my cholesterol level naturally
I train in martial arts at least 3 times a week for roughly an hour each time.
Also, I have never really been a smoker and my waist is a 34 and my weight about 195. I don’t eat trans fats at all and rarely eat things like burgers & fries and keep the sweets to a minimum.
I even juice things like beets, carrots, and greens 2-3 times per week.
And yet here I was, being told I need special tests to look for signs of heart disease.
To be specific, I was sent for a CT scan to check for potential blockages.
If you have kids, get them set up for success in the future with my Healthy Eating Habits For Children. Starting early and preventing those bad habits is far better than trying to fix the problem later!
What food should be avoided for high cholesterol?
WebMD has a page about high cholesterol and how to reduce cholesterol levels quickly.
Their list of foods to avoid include:
- Starchy Foods (things like pasta, potatoes, corn and peas)
- Baked Beans with sugar and pork
- Too Much Fruit
- Canned Fish in oil (high quality tuna in water is OK)
- Sugary Drinks
- Honey/Maple Syrup
- Fats (high fat meats, trans fats, butter)
And before you run to the pharmacy, according to the Mayo Clinic “medications that specifically increase HDL have failed to reduce the rate of heart attacks.”
So medications may not provide the all the answers we are looking for.
They go on to list the side effects of statins (the most prescribed drug for high cholesterol) as:
- Muscle pain and damage
- Liver damage
- Increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
- Neurological side effects
Older people and women are the most susceptible to the side effects.
Thus you should use caution and consult your doctor before deciding that statins are the best treatment for you.
It also is clear to me that there can be greater benefit in learning how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally.
I’ve blogged before about my feelings of America being Overmedicated. Check that out to see my take on why we’re overmedicated and how it impacts our society.
Alcohol and its impact on cholesterol
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.” So drinking in moderation could be a good thing apparently.
But how much alcohol is too much?
The CDC claims that “moderate” drinking is 1 drink a day for women and 2 a day for men (presumably due to higher body weight).
Heavy drinking then increases 5 drinks a day for men and 4 per day for women.
In a recent study by the National Institutes of Health, they found that compared to non-drinkers, occasional heavy drinkers have unusually high levels of triglycerides and low levels of (the good) HDL cholesterol.
They also found that heavy drinkers have significantly higher levels of (the bad) LDL cholesterol.
Thus moderate drinking or not drinking clearly can help with how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally.
What are the best foods to reduce cholesterol naturally?
According to Harvard, some of the best foods you can eat to reduce your cholesterol levels quickly and naturally are:
- Eggplant and okra
Ironically their list also includes a couple of things on the above list of no-nos, such as fruits, fish, and oils.
But the one thing we can be certain of with experts is that the “correct” method changes periodically.
Dr. Andrew Weill also has a list of how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally through dietary changes. Those include:
- Fresh garlic
- Green tea
- The supplement Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
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What have you got to lose (other than maybe cholesterol?)
So what are my . . .
7 Best Tips on How to Reduce Cholesterol Levels Naturally?
1. Cut back on red meat
Save the red meat for special occasions.
While the protein can be beneficial, you don’t need all the saturated fat.
You also don’t need all the antibiotics and chemicals that often get put into a lot of commercial meat products.
So sadly, learning how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally and quickly has to include less red meat.
2. Eliminate butter
Certainly better than the trans fat in traditional margarine, but ultimately very high in fat without some of the benefits found in a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Coconut oil has been very trendy for a decade, but use caution with that too, as it contains a high level of saturated fat and may not help us learn how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally.
3. Use more olive oil
It goes without saying that I only recommend extra virgin olive oil, but even there, there’s a lot of bogus EVOO on the market.
I won’t go into it here, but check out what 60 Minutes has to say about it in their story on Don’t fall victim to olive oil fraud. When buying it, avoid the most common grocery store names.
Often when you deal such mass quantities, even with the best intentions, it can be very hard to control quality.
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4. Add CoQ10 to my supplement regimen
I mentioned it above, but Co-enzyme Q10 is the #1 supplement Dr. Andrew Weill recommends for managing healthy cholesterol levels. A study by the American College of Cardiology found that “Long-term CoQ10 treatment reduces major adverse cardiovascular events.”
5. Lose weight
Weight is mostly a matter of calories in and calories burned.
Thus to lose weight, we need to consume fewer calories and/or burn more. To go deeper into this topic, check out another post on my site about how to Lose That “Dad Bod” in 5 Easy Steps.
But exercise and healthy movement will definitely be one of the best ways of how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally.
6. Cutting back on pasta, bread & potatoes
Basically, we’re talking about limiting empty starches.
Can’t go completely without? At least eat whole grain pasta and bread then.
A recent study by Johns Hopkins University looked at three diets that were based on either protein, monounsaturated fat or carbohydrates.
They found that the protein and monounsaturated fat diets were more effective in reducing the risk factors for heart disease than the high-carb diet.
So if you’re looking for tips on how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally, cutting out empty starches will definitely be one of the best things to try.
7. Adding more fish and fish oils to my diet
Going back to Dr. Andrew Weill, he finds that “fish oil contains an abundance of essential omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3s) that have been shown to lower triglyceride (blood fat) levels, minimize inflammation and clotting, and increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol.”
He goes on to say that “Research indicates that omega-3s may help reduce the risk and symptoms of a variety of disorders influenced by inflammation, including heart attack and stroke.”
Fish oil capsules are easy enough to add as is the occasional lunch of chunk white meat tuna packed in water.
As with olive oil, there are, however, a number of concerns with fish and it can get confusing; wild caught, farm raised, mercury concerns and sustainability concerns just to name a few.
You can dig in further if you wish by learning about Factory Fish Farming.
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— Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai,PhD (M.I.T.) Inventor of Email (@va_shiva) September 11, 2016
The most important things you can do for your loved ones
- WE NEED TO KNOW OUR NUMBERS – Hiding our heads in the sand doesn’t make the problems go away
- OUR FAMILIES DEPEND ON US – If nothing else, we owe it to them to take care of ourselves
- GET A PHYSICAL AT LEAST ONCE EVERY 2 YEARS – Ideally once a year. As with any serious disease, catching it early can save your life
- TAKE ACTION – Acknowledging an issue is only half the battle. Next, develop the discipline to actually make changes.
According to the American Heart Association, “it takes 60 to 90 days to create a new habit”.
Getting through those 2 to 3 months will take drive, willpower, and tenacity.
Whether you need to quit smoking, exercise more or eat better (or anything else), you need to, as Stephen Covey says, in his great book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People . . .
“Begin with the End in Mind”!
In other words, know where you want to be in 6 months or a year (and 5 and 10!).
Have a specific goal for yourself that is realistic and specific and set a time frame of how long it will take to get there.
BE DETAILED & KEEP IT SIMPLE! No one ever achieved their goals when they were vague, complicated or unrealistic.
Whether you’re reading this around New Year’s or not, I highly recommend following the steps I outline in my post on Keeping New Year’s Resolutions. I walk you through some simple, actionable steps to set and KEEP realistic goals.
If I can learn how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally and be there for my family, so can you!
Let’s do it!
Did I cover everything you wanted to know about how to reduce cholesterol levels naturally?
In this post, we looked at one of the top concerns facing hundreds of thousands of people every day.
But more importantly, we looked at high cholesterol remedies and top tips on how to reduce your cholesterol levels naturally.
Are you struggling to learn how to reduce cholesterol level naturally? Have you tried herbal remedies for cholesterol or other home remedies?
Feel free to comment here or email me with any questions!