Lowering Cholesterol Naturally
If you have raised cholesterol levels, you are probably wondering how to reduce cholesterol naturally: whether there are simple changes – which will soon feel very normal and come naturally in time – that you can make to your diet and lifestyle to help lower it to the recommended level. Although the first and foremost thing to take into account is always the advice of a healthcare professional, there are in fact many ways to lower cholesterol and to ease yourself into good habits.
Things to consider before attempting to lower cholesterol naturally
Cholesterol levels are important because – if elevated – cholesterol is one of the risk factors of coronary heart disease – although there are multiple factors, and you may have to tackle these as well to reduce the overall risk of it. As such, it’s a good idea (if you haven’t already done so) to make an appointment to get your cholesterol levels tested and speak to a healthcare professional about your options. Knowing your cholesterol level and setting a realistic goal can help keep you motivated – which is important when changing your new diet and lifestyle to feel as though you are lowering cholesterol naturally.
How to lower cholesterol naturally
When it comes to lowering cholesterol naturally and looking after your heart, improvements in both diet and lifestyle are key. But what sort of new habits do you need to develop, and how can they fit in with a busy lifestyle? Here are some ideas:
Dietary changes which feel like natural ways to lower cholesterol
The food you eat can make a real difference to cholesterol levels. Two things that can have an impact are: replacing “bad” saturated fats with “good” unsaturated fat in the diet* and eating foods with added plant sterols, which are clinically proven to actively lower cholesterol* as part of a varied and balanced diet including lots of fruit and vegetables and a healthy lifestyle. Here are some top tips for changing your natural eating habits to ensure you’re following a healthy and balanced diet:
- When shopping, swap foods high in saturated fat for reduced (saturated) fat alternatives and/or those high in unsaturated fat: check food labels, and stock up on vegetable oils such as sunflower or rapeseed oil, nuts, oily fish, and vegetable oil based soft spreads.
- Replace some meat dishes with beans and pulses, whole grains, or fish, and opt for lean cuts of meat where possible.
- Get your five-a-day of fruit and vegetables.
- Your diet overall should also be healthy, balanced, and varied. Find out about what makes a balanced diet here.
- Avoid deep frying food; steam, grill, or poach instead.
- Snack on small portions of unsalted nuts and seeds instead of reaching for a bag of crisps or biscuits.
- Check out the recipe section of our website for meal ideas.
Lifestyle changes for lowering cholesterol naturally
There is a connection between being overweight or obese and having elevated LDL-(or “bad”) cholesterol and lower levels of “good” HDL-cholesterol. Along with a balanced diet, exercise can help maintain a healthy weight. It’s simpler than you might think to squeeze in the NHS-recommended 150 minutes of exercise a week, even for those of us with jobs that involve a long part of the day spent sitting down. Another thing to take into account in any healthy lifestyle is general wellbeing – reducing stress levels, and getting enough sleep.
Reduce your stress levels and get some exercise:
- Walk up the stairs instead of taking a lift.
- Try one or more of these 10-minute workouts a day.
- Put aside 15-30 minutes a day for meditation or personal reflection.
- Cycle or walk to work instead of taking public transport.
- Take up a new exercise hobby – something that gets you excited. Whether it’s running, rambling, water aerobics, volleyball, or even trampolining, if you find it fun, it will be easier to stay motivated.
- Get into a sleep routine, with a set bedtime and relaxing rituals.
* Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor of heart disease. There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease, and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce the overall risk of it.