Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood and tissues that’s necessary for a variety of bodily functions. You need cholesterol to make vitamin D and build cell walls. Plus, it helps you digest fats.
There are two main types of cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). While both types are essential to the body, LDL cholesterol is considered “bad” because excess amounts can lead to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that slows down your blood flow and blocks up your arteries. HDL cholesterol is considered “good” because it can help remove excess LDL cholesterol from the body before it can oxidize and cause damage.
The secret to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is making sure your LDL and HDL cholesterol are properly balanced. Here are seven ways you can reduce your LDL levels while raising your HDL levels.
Load up on Fish, Oats, and Beans
Each of these foods contains components that help keep your cholesterol levels healthy.
Fish contains omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) that help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, lower total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, raise HDL cholesterol levels, and lower high blood pressure.
Oats are rich in soluble fiber, beta-glucans, and lignans that have been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels. Studies have found that eating three grams of oat bran a day can lower total cholesterol by up to 23%.
Like oats, beans are high in soluble fiber, which lowers your LDL cholesterol level by preventing its absorption in the gut. One study found that just a ½ cup of cooked pinto beans daily could lower cholesterol levels.
Cook with Olive Oil
Olive oil is monounsaturated fat, which helps lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels while supporting HDL cholesterol. Olive oil also contains phytosterols. Phytosterols help block cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream.
Switch to Red Wine
While red wine and white wine contain nearly the same amount of calories and carbs, red wine has potent heart-healthy antioxidants and polyphenols you won’t find in white. And, the most powerful of them is resveratrol. Resveratrol has been found to help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce LDL cholesterol, and prevent blood clots.
Skip the Chips
Eating a lot of chips can raise your cholesterol levels because the process used to make potato chips creates trans fats, the most harmful type of fat. This type of fat raises your levels of LDL cholesterol while lowering levels of HDL cholesterol. Nuts are a far healthier snack choice to help keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Take Targeted Supplements
Along with a healthy diet, targeted supplements can help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels. And, two of the best cholesterol-supporting nutrients are Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and Bergamo.
CoQ10 is an antioxidant that helps protect LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, maintains healthy blood vessels, protects against clots and plaque damage to arteries, and supports the optimal functioning of the heart muscle.
Bergamot is a patented extract of the citrus fruit bergamot. It has been shown in clinical studies to increase HDL cholesterol levels, lower LDL cholesterol levels, and reduce triglyceride levels.
When you stop smoking, your level of HDL cholesterol naturally rises. Eliminating smoking from your daily lifestyle also reduces the number of free radicals that can damage your arteries.
Get Regular Moderate Exercise
Numerous studies have found that regular, moderate exercise can reduce your risk of heart problems. Even walking as little as 20 minutes a day can reduce your cardiovascular risk by up to 30%.