How This Helps

Cholesterol is produced naturally in the liver. Naturally produced cholesterol is known to have many essential functions in the body.[1, 2] Apart from being produced naturally by the liver, you also get some amount of cholesterol from the food you eat. However, if you are eating too much of cholesterol-containing foods, then this can lead to an excess of cholesterol in the body. There are two major forms of cholesterol in the body - one is the harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and the other is the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.[3] You want to maintain a low level of LDL cholesterol in the body. 

Natural ways to lower cholesterol

Here are some natural ways to lower cholesterol.

1. Avoid the intake of Trans Fats

You can lower cholesterol by cutting down on the intake of trans fats. Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fats that come in both natural and artificial forms. Natural trans fats can be found in dairy and meat products and makeup two to five percent of the total fat present in dairy products and three to nine percent of the total fat in beef and lamb cuts.[4, 5]

Artificial trans fats are known to dramatically increase the level of total cholesterol, as well as the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body. At the same time, trans fats also reduce the amount of beneficial HDL cholesterol by as much as 20 percent.[6, 7]

Numerous clinical studies have found that people with a high intake of trans fats developed a significant increase in LDL cholesterol, while there was no increase in HDL cholesterol.[8] 

Many studies have also linked high consumption of trans fats to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.[9, 10, 11]

So if you are thinking about how to lower LDL cholesterol, then it is best to start avoiding trans fats. This can be done by reading the food labels carefully. If you find a product lists' partially hydrogenated oil', then this means it contains trans fats and is best avoided.

2. Exercise Regularly

Doing some amount of regular physical activity is one of the best ways to lower cholesterol. At the same time, exercise helps decrease the levels of LDL and boost the levels of HDL cholesterol.[12, 13]

A study found that 12 weeks of resistant training and aerobic exercise can successfully lower the levels of LDL in overweight women.[14]

If you are wondering how to lower cholesterol, then resistance exercise is considered to be one of the best options for decreasing LDL, even when done at moderate intensity. Resistance exercises are any exercises that cause your muscles to contract against an external resistance. Bicep curls, bench press, barbell squats, pushups, chin-ups, sit-ups, etc., are all popular forms of resistance exercises.[15]

3. Quit Smoking 

Smoking can also be a roadblock to your efforts to lower cholesterol.

Cigarettes contain a variety of toxic substances, including a hazardous and strongly reactive chemical known as acrolein.[16] This toxic chemical is the foul-smelling vapor that is produced when you burn plants such as tobacco. Acrolein can also be man-made, and it is so toxic that it is also used in chemical weapons and pesticides. Acrolein gets easily absorbed into the blood through your lungs when you smoke. Researchers believe that this increases the risk of heart disease since it affects how your body metabolizes cholesterol.[17]

The chemical acrolein also interferes with the cleansing abilities of HDL cholesterol as it attacks this lipoprotein. As a result of this, more fat starts building up in the blood and throughout the body.[18]

Not just HDL, but acrolein also has an impact on LDL as it inhibits the functioning of the protective enzyme that keeps LDL intact in the body. Without the presence of this enzyme, the LDL lipoprotein becomes susceptible to oxidation, which is a complex chemical process that causes changes in the molecular structure of LDL. As this structure changes, our immune system is no longer able to recognize the LDL molecules, and as a result, it releases white blood cells to bind to the affected structure. This causes inflammation.[19] One study found that the higher the presence of oxidized LDL in the bloodstream, the higher is the incidence of a stroke or heart attack.[20] So if you want to know about how to reduce cholesterol, it is best to begin by quitting smoking.

See: How long does it take to reduce cholesterol

Other Natural Ways to Lower Cholesterol

Here are some other ways of how to reduce cholesterol:

1. Reduce your weight if you are obese or overweight. Being overweight significantly increases your cholesterol levels. Losing just 5-10 pounds can help you lower cholesterol naturally.[21, 22]

2. Stop the intake of saturated fats, and focus instead on having monounsaturated fats. A study found that a low-fat diet can help lower LDL cholesterol.[23] Excellent sources of monounsaturated fats include olives and olive oil, avocados, almonds, pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, canola oil, among others. 

3. Another way of how to lower cholesterol naturally is by increasing your intake of soluble fiber. Regular consumption of soluble fiber can significantly lower LDL cholesterol.[24] You can do this by increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts and seeds.

4. Eat more fatty fish to lower cholesterol naturally. Oily or fatty fish are loaded in omega-3 fatty acids. These are necessary for your heart health and help lower cholesterol.[25, 26] Good sources of fatty fish include salmon, mackerel, and tuna.

5. To lower cholesterol naturally, you can also cut down on the intake of alcohol. Moderate alcohol intake can increase HDL levels, but too much of alcohol harms the liver and also increases the risk of alcohol dependency.[27] 

6. Boost intake of plant stanols and sterols that can prevent your body from absorbing cholesterol into the bloodstream. Sterols and stanols have shown promise in the management of cholesterol since they are plant versions of cholesterol and do not clog the arteries.[28, 29]

7. One of the natural ways to lower cholesterol is the use of psyllium, which is a type of soluble fiber. It is commonly available as a supplement, and studies have found that psyllium lowered the levels of both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol dramatically.[30]

See: Heart healthy diet plan to prevent heart disease

Summary

LDL cholesterol is known to be a significant contributor to cardiovascular disease. When the levels of LDL cholesterol gets out of control, then the first line of treatment should be practicing healthy lifestyle changes to check the levels of LDL cholesterol. Following these tips can help you decrease the levels of bad LDL and also increase beneficial HDL levels. If you are still worried about your cholesterol levels, then consult a doctor to have your blood cholesterol levels tested.

See: Lowering Your Cholesterol with Diet Plan

References

1. Yokoyama, S., 2000. Release of cellular cholesterol: molecular mechanism for cholesterol homeostasis in cells and in the body. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids, 1529(1-3), pp.231-244.

2. Liu, J.P., Tang, Y., Zhou, S., Toh, B.H., McLean, C., and Li, H., 2010. Cholesterol involvement in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, 43(1), pp.33-42.

3. Allison, M.A., and Wright, C.M., 2004. A comparison of HDL and LDL cholesterol for prevalent coronary calcification. International Journal of Cardiology, 95(1), pp.55-60.

4. Aro, A., Antoine, J.M., Pizzoferrato, L., Reykdal, O., and Van Poppel, G., 1998. Trans-fatty acids in dairy and meat products from 14 European countries: the TransFair study. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 11(2), pp.150-160.

5. O'Donnell-Megaro, A.M., Barbano, D.M. and Bauman, D.E., 2011. Survey of the fatty acid composition of retail milk in the United States including regional and seasonal variations. Journal of dairy science, 94(1), pp.59-65.

6. Gebauer, S.K., Destaillats, F., Dionisi, F., Krauss, R.M. and Baer, D.J., 2015. Vaccenic acid and trans fatty acid isomers from partially hydrogenated oil both adversely affect LDL cholesterol: a double-blind, randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of clinical nutrition, 102(6), pp.1339-1346.

7. de Roos, N.M., 2001. Trans fatty acids, HDL-cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease risk: effects of dietary changes on vascular reactivity.

8. Mozaffarian, D., Aro, A. and Willett, W.C., 2009. Health effects of trans-fatty acids: experimental and observational evidence. European Journal of clinical nutrition, 63(2), pp.S5-S21.

9. Sun, Q., Ma, J., Campos, H., Hankinson, S.E., Manson, J.E., Stampfer, M.J., Rexrode, K.M., Willett, W.C. and Hu, F.B., 2007. A prospective study of trans fatty acids in erythrocytes and risk of coronary heart disease. Circulation.

10. Pietinen, P., Ascherio, A., Korhonen, P., Hartman, A.M., Willett, W.C., Albanes, D. and Virtamo, J., 1997. Intake of fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease in a cohort of Finnish men: the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 145(10), pp.876-887.

11. Oomen, C.M., Ocké, M.C., Feskens, E.J., van Erp-Baart, M.A.J., Kok, F.J. and Kromhout, D., 2001. Association between trans fatty acid intake and 10-year risk of coronary heart disease in the Zutphen Elderly Study: a prospective population-based study. The Lancet, 357(9258), pp.746-751.

12. Mann, S., Beedie, C. and Jimenez, A., 2014. Differential effects of aerobic exercise, resistance training and combined exercise modalities on cholesterol and the lipid profile: review, synthesis and recommendations. Sports Medicine, 44(2), pp.211-221.

13. Ahn, N. and Kim, K., 2016. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) in cardiovascular disease: effect of exercise training. Integrative medicine research, 5(3), pp.212-215.

14. Park, J.H., Park, H., Lim, S.T. and Park, J.K., 2015. Effects of a 12-week healthy-life exercise program on oxidized low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and carotid intima-media thickness in obese elderly women. Journal of physical therapy science, 27(5), pp.1435-1439.

15. Mann, S., Beedie, C. and Jimenez, A., 2014. Differential effects of aerobic exercise, resistance training and combined exercise modalities on cholesterol and the lipid profile: review, synthesis and recommendations. Sports Medicine, 44(2), pp.211-221.

16. Moghe, A., Ghare, S., Lamoreau, B., Mohammad, M., Barve, S., McClain, C. and Joshi-Barve, S., 2015. Molecular mechanisms of acrolein toxicity: relevance to human disease. Toxicological Sciences, 143(2), pp.242-255.

17. Henning, R.J., Johnson, G.T., Coyle, J.P. and Harbison, R.D., 2017. Acrolein can cause cardiovascular disease: a review. Cardiovascular Toxicology, 17(3), pp.227-236.

18. Chadwick, A.C., Holme, R.L., Chen, Y., Thomas, M.J., Sorci-Thomas, M.G., Silverstein, R.L., Pritchard Jr, K.A. and Sahoo, D., 2015. Acrolein impairs the cholesterol transport functions of high density lipoproteins. PloS one, 10(4).

19. Stevens, J.F. and Maier, C.S., 2008. Acrolein: sources, metabolism, and biomolecular interactions relevant to human health and disease. Molecular nutrition & food research, 52(1), pp.7-25.

20. Linton, M.F., Yancey, P.G., Davies, S.S., Jerome, W.G., Linton, E.F., Song, W.L., Doran, A.C. and Vickers, K.C., 2019. The role of lipids and lipoproteins in atherosclerosis. In Endotext [Internet]. MDText. com, Inc..

21. Leichtle, A.B., Helmschrodt, C., Ceglarek, U., Shai, I., Henkin, Y., Schwarzfuchs, D., Golan, R., Gepner, Y., Stampfer, M.J., Blüher, M. and Stumvoll, M., 2011. Effects of a 2-y dietary weight-loss intervention on cholesterol metabolism in moderately obese men. The American Journal of clinical nutrition, 94(5), pp.1189-1195.

22. Santosa, S., Demonty, I., Lichtenstein, A.H. and Jones, P.J.H., 2007. Cholesterol metabolism and body composition in women: the effects of moderate weight loss. International Journal of Obesity, 31(6), pp.933-941.

23. Grundy, S.M., Florentin, L., Nix, D. and Whelan, M.F., 1988. Comparison of monounsaturated fatty acids and carbohydrates for reducing raised levels of plasma cholesterol in man. The American Journal of clinical nutrition, 47(6), pp.965-969.

24. Wood, R.J., Fernandez, M.L., Sharman, M.J., Silvestre, R., Greene, C.M., Zern, T.L., Shrestha, S., Judelson, D.A., Gomez, A.L., Kraemer, W.J. and Volek, J.S., 2007. Effects of a carbohydrate-restricted diet with and without supplemental soluble fiber on plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and other clinical markers of cardiovascular risk. Metabolism, 56(1), pp.58-67.

25. Sekikawa, A., Doyle, M.F., and Kuller, L.H., 2015. Recent findings of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn-3 PUFAs) on atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease (CHD) contrasting studies in Western countries to Japan. Trends in cardiovascular medicine, 25(8), pp.717-723.

26. Enns, J.E., Yeganeh, A., Zarychanski, R., Abou-Setta, A.M., Friesen, C., Zahradka, P., and Taylor, C.G., 2014. The impact of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation on the incidence of cardiovascular events and complications in peripheral arterial disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC cardiovascular disorders, 14(1), p.70.

27. Sierksma, A., Vermunt, S.H., Lankhuizen, I.M., van der Gaag, M.S., Scheek, L.M., Grobbee, D.E., van Tol, A. and Hendriks, H.F., 2004. Effect of moderate alcohol consumption on parameters of reverse cholesterol transport in postmenopausal women. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 28(4), pp.662-666.

28. Mensink, R.P., Ebbing, S., Lindhout, M., Plat, J., and van Heugten, M.M., 2002. Effects of plant stanol esters supplied in low-fat yogurt on serum lipids and lipoproteins, non-cholesterol sterols, and fat-soluble antioxidant concentrations. Atherosclerosis, 160(1), pp.205-213.

29. Gylling, H., and Miettinen, T.A., 2005. Cholesterol absorption: influence of body weight and the role of plant sterols. Current atherosclerosis reports, 7(6), pp.466-471.

30. Shrestha, S., Volek, J.S., Udani, J., Wood, R.J., Greene, C.M., Aggarwal, D., Contois, J.H., Kavoussi, B., and Fernandez, M.L., 2006. A combination therapy, including psyllium and plant sterols, lowers LDL cholesterol by modifying lipoprotein metabolism in hypercholesterolemic individuals. The Journal of nutrition, 136(10), pp.2492-2497.

See: Ayurvedic treatment for High Cholesterol and Triglycerides

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