If you suffer from high cholesterol levels, you are at an increased risk of developing heart disease. Luckily, there are many ways you can lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and improve your HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Let's take a look at the top eight ways you can naturally lower your cholesterol levels and improve your heart health.
1. Dietary changes – By making small dietary changes you can improve your heart health and lower your cholesterol levels . Eliminate bad fats from your diet and increase your consumption of healthy fats, such as avocados, salmon, walnuts and flax seeds. These healthy fats are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help to improve HDL cholesterol levels, decrease triglycerides and lower blood pressure levels.
2. Exercise – Regular exercise can improve cholesterol levels. For best results, include strength training exercises with aerobics to boost human growth hormone production,lower LDL cholesterol levels and improve HDL cholesterol. WebMD reports that exercise can help you lose weight. Excess body weight can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol and heart disease. Luckily, losing five to ten percent of your body weight can significantly improve your cholesterol levels. When you exercise, the enzymes that help to pull LDL cholesterol from the blood and to the liver where it is converted into bile are activated, which helps you expel excess LDL cholesterol from the body.Making small changes to your diet and exercise routine can help you lose excess pounds.
3. Essential oils – There are several essential oils that can improve your cholesterol levels naturally. Lavender can help reduce emotional stress, cypress can help improve circulation and rosemary provides antioxidant protection and supports a healthy cardiovascular system. Use these essential oils daily to help lower your cholesterol naturally and protect against heart disease.
4. Plant sterols – Plant sterols increase healthy lipid metabolism by improving your liver function. The liver converts excess cholesterol into bile and bile salts that travel through the digestive tract and are eliminated during defecation.
5. Increase fiber consumption – Increase your fiber to improve your cholesterol levels. Fiber is found in a number of heart-healthy foods, including oats, beans, vegetables, lentil and fruits. Adding fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains is an easy way to lower your cholesterol and protect against heart disease. These foods bind to cholesterol in the digestive system and help you expel them, preventing them from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
6. Reduce Stress – Chronic stress can cause systemic inflammation, which can increase your risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. Practicing stress relief techniques like meditation, prayer, journaling, deep breathing, yoga and Tai Chi can help to decrease inflammation and improve cholesterol levels.
7. Reduce alcohol and sugar consumption – Although moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to improve HDL cholesterol levels, too much of a good thing can actually be detrimental to your cardiovascular health. The Mayo Clinic reports that men should limit themselves to no more than two alcoholic beverages each day and women should have no more than one alcoholic beverage each day. Consuming more than this can cause serious health issues, including heart failure, stroke and high blood pressure.
Sugar causes inflammation in the body and can cause your glucose levels to drop and spike. Eliminate foods that are high in sugar, including processed foods, sugary beverages and pastries that can spike glucose levels and contribute to obesity, high cholesterol levels and heart disease.
8. Stop smoking – Smoking has been proven to lower your beneficial cholesterol levels. Stopping smoking can help to improve your cholesterol levels. In fact, within twenty minutes of stopping smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure lower. Within a year of quitting, your risk of cardiovascular disease is cut in half. Finally, after fifteen years, your risk of cardiovascular is the same as a person who has never smoked.
High cholesterol levels have been associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Luckily, there are several lifestyle changes that you can do to lower your cholesterol levels and improve your heart health. Stop smoking, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly to improve HDL cholesterol levels and decrease LDL cholesterol levels.