Cholesterol is not as black as it is painted. This waxy substance, synthesized by the liver, is a major structural component of the body’s cell membranes.
We need cholesterol to build healthy cells. The substance is also involved in the production of various hormones, including testosterone, estrogen and adrenal hormones.
Cholesterol also contributes to the production of bile acids, which aid in the digestion of fats and the absorption of essential nutrients. In addition, it can stimulate the synthesis of vitamin D, which works alongside other minerals like calcium to promote healthy bone, teeth and muscle growth.
But despite the many benefits of cholesterol, too much of the substance can be more harmful than helpful.
Excess cholesterol in the blood can cause the material to stick to the walls of your arteries. Over a long enough time frame, the waxy compound can build up the walls of your arteries or even block them completely, causing a variety of heart and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).
Fortunately, there are many ways to lower cholesterol naturally by making lifestyle changes. This post looks at five such adjustments.
1. Increase your soy intake
Soybeans are a superfood best known for their dense nutritional profile. This legume is notable for its high amount of protein per serving and significant amounts of all nine essential amino acids.
That explains the growing awareness sustainable agriculture methods as a potential mitigating factor against possible future shortages of this protein-rich food.
Many nutritionists also note the potential anti-cholesterol effects of soy.
Soy is rich in both copper and phytic acid. Deficiency of these two compounds is associated with high blood cholesterol levels. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that soy can prevent the increase of cholesterol by lowering the zinc-to-copper ratio.
Soy is also rich in isoflavones. Studies have shown that more isoflavones in the blood can lower cholesterol levels.
One of the best things about consuming soy for cholesterol is that you have several options at your disposal. Examples of soy-based formulations include whole soybeans, edamame, soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and soy protein shakes.
2. Cut back on foods high in cholesterol
Increasing your intake of soy and other anti-cholesterol foods is not enough. It is also important to reduce the consumption of foods that cause high blood cholesterol levels.
Eggs are a notorious culprit here. Although eggs are quite nutritious, they are disturbingly high in cholesterol, with one egg (about 50 grams) containing 207 milligrams of the harmful substance.
Organ meats also tend to be significantly higher in cholesterol. Therefore, it is wise to moderate the intake of organs such as the liver, heart, and kidney.
Dairy products are other notable foods associated with high cholesterol levels. This is especially true of full-fat yogurt, cheese, and butter.
Other foods high in cholesterol include:
- Seafood such as shellfish and sardines
- Fried foods
- Fast food
- Processed meat
3. Tap Gym
Regular exercise is associated with a number of health benefits, one of which is the ability to lower cholesterol levels.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week can have a dramatic positive effect on high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
But that’s not all.
Exercise also lowers LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (also known as “bad” cholesterol) while raising HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (also known as “good” cholesterol). A 2013 study found that 1 hour of brisk walking per day, five days a week for 24 weeks, can significantly improve HDL cholesterol levels.
So if you don’t already have a strong workout plan, now is the time to create one. Just remember that exercise works best when combined with a healthy diet.
4. Get a good night’s sleep
A healthy diet and regular exercise may be the most popular ways to combat high cholesterol. But they are not the only ones.
It turns out that sleep can also affect your average blood cholesterol levels.
A study examining the relationship between sleep and cholesterol found that both too much and too little sleep had a negative effect on the body’s lipid levels. Researchers found that those who slept less than five hours and more than eight hours each night were more prone to high triglycerides and low HDL levels.
Interestingly, the negative effects of unhealthy sleep habits on cholesterol levels are not unique to age or gender.
Therefore, aim to get enough sleep, which is usually 7-9 hours every 24 hours.
Water provides many benefits to the body, including improving digestion and aiding certain metabolic processes. It also supports skin health and lowers cholesterol levels.
Drinking plenty of water (3.7 liters per day for men and 2.7 liters per day for women) keeps your cardiovascular system clean. This helps prevent cholesterol waste from building up in the blood.
Some research also suggests that hydrogen-rich water supplementation can fight cholesterol by lowering LDL-C and apoB levels while improving HDL functions damaged by dyslipidemia.
Hydrogen water generally refers to water containing significant amounts of hydrogen molecules. The drink is associated with energizing, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
A cholesterol-free body is impossible to achieve. In fact, our bodies require a certain amount of this waxy substance to function optimally.
However, too much cholesterol in your blood can predispose you to a number of health problems. That’s why it’s worth taking preventive anti-cholesterol measures, such as implementing the tips listed above.