Got the news that your blood cholesterol isn’t great? We can show you how to lower cholesterol naturally with the right diet and lifestyle changes. But, first let’s go over what you should know about cholesterol.
Types of Cholesterol
- HDL is known as “good cholesterol” because it helps remove cholesterol floating in the bloodstream. A high HDL level is good because it can lower your risk for heart disease.
- LDL is known as “bad cholesterol” because it can contribute to the buildup of plaque in the arteries. A high LDL level can increase your risk for heart disease.
Cholesterol in Food ≠ Cholesterol in Your Body
Eating less cholesterol from food won’t necessarily lower your body’s cholesterol levels. The type of cholesterol you eat, called dietary cholesterol, is different than the kind of cholesterol that’s in your body, referred to as blood cholesterol.
Your body makes its own blood cholesterol depending on a variety of factors, like the types of fats you eat and your activity level. Rest assured that you can generally enjoy high cholesterol foods like eggs and shellfish as part of a heart-healthy diet.
4 Tips to Lower Cholesterol Naturally
Your food choices can help you lower your cholesterol naturally. With enough commitment, you might even be able to cut back on medications. We’ve rounded up four tips along with tasty food and delicious recipes.
1. Eat More Fiber
There are two kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is best for lowering your cholesterol because it attaches to cholesterol in the digestive tract. This prevents your body from absorbing some of the cholesterol you eat, which in turn reduces your body’s LDL levels. Most foods have a mix of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Go for foods rich in soluble fiber such as oats, barley, beans, Brussels sprouts and chia seeds. Check out our collection of high-fiber recipes for culinary inspiration, or try these recipes rich in soluble fiber:
- Maple French Toast Overnight Oatmeal
- Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash
- Black Bean Salad with Avocado-Lime Dressing
2. Get More Heart-Healthy Fats
Fats are not created equal. Monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) are considered heart-healthy fats because they lower LDL levels and reduce risk for heart disease. MUFAs and PUFAs are mostly found in oils and plant-based foods like canola oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado. Our favorite way to enjoy heart-healthy fats include:
3. Watch Out for Saturated and Trans Fats
Saturated fat can raise LDL level, which was long thought to increase the risk for heart disease. However, recent research shows that the link between saturated fats and heart disease isn’t so clear-cut. How saturated fat will affect your blood cholesterol depends on how much you eat, your overall diet and your genetics.
For folks with high LDL, the American Heart Association recommends that 5 to 6% of your daily calories come from saturated fats. This translates to 11 to 13 grams per day for someone on a 2000 calorie per day diet.
Trans fats have the worst effect on cholesterol levels. They raise LDL and lower HDL, a double whammy for heart disease risk. Trans fats are mostly found in processed, packaged foods like cookies, cakes and certain peanut butters. Check the ingredients list and look out for “hydrogenated oils,” which is a code word for trans fats.
Check out our heart-healthy recipe collection for the perfect mix of healthy fats, fiber and fresh ingredients.
4. Eat More Omega-3s
Omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat that can lower LDL and boost HDL levels. Fatty fish like salmon, trout and sardines are the best sources of omega-3 fats. Chia seeds and flax seeds are two plant-based sources that you can add to oatmeal, yogurt parfaits and smoothies.
Explore our omega-3-rich recipes, and try these handpicked favorites: