Have you been told you need to lower your cholesterol? If so, then you’ve probably heard about the difference between HDL, or “good” cholesterol and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol and the importance of keeping the right balance for a healthy heart.
Well, be careful, because cholesterol numbers alone don’t give you a full picture of your heart’s health. That doesn’t mean you should let your cholesterol readings fly high and unchecked. But be careful of modern medicine “cures” that can cause more problems than they solve.
One of the biggest dangers to your heart are the statin drugs well-meaning doctors prescribe to help you manage your cholesterol. I’m talking drop-dead-on-the-floor-from-sudden-heart-attack type of danger. That’s why I encourage you to use more natural methods of maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Here are five natural ways you can use to help control your cholesterol levels and protect your heart without the risks of statin drugs.
#1 Proper Diet
I can hear the groans already. And your doctor probably already told you this too. That’s because eating right is critical to good health. Not just for your heart, but every aspect of your well being.
But here’s some good news. You don’t have to give up everything you love and eat like a rabbit the rest of your days to enjoy a healthier life. In fact, just some small changes can make a big difference.
Watch your coffee
Many people may skip breakfast (not a good idea), but find their morning coffee an absolute must to get their day started. Fine. But how is it prepared? Do you use whole cream? Add sugar to your coffee? Try replacing cream with milk and sugar with a natural sweetener like stevia. The closer to black you drink your coffee and the less sugar used, the better.
Portion size is one of the things nutritionists and doctors like to harp on. They have a point. But many people I know, particularly here in America, feel like they are getting only half a meal unless they fill up their plate. Here’s a simple remedy to eat less: use a smaller plate. Believe it or not, this really works. You can load up on a medium-sized dinner plate and still end up eating less than you would have using a full-size dinner plate. And since you’re taking less at a time, you naturally end up eating less.
Watch out for fat food
Did I say fat food? I meant to say fast food. Sure, it’s convenient. And it is faster and less expensive than eating in most sit-down restaurants. But more often than not there’s little difference. And the worst thing is the nutritional content of most fast food meals is sorely lacking. But that doesn’t mean you’re home free at a fancy restaurant. Watch out for foods on the menu described as crispy, fried, or served in cheese, butter, or a cream sauce. Better choices are usually steamed, grilled, broiled, roasted, or stir-fried. And finally, take it easy on breads and pizza!
It’s hard to discuss health without bringing up exercise. That’s because our bodies weren’t made to just sit around. If we want to remain healthy and active, we need to BE healthy and active.
#3 Quit Smoking
Smoking dramatically increases your risk of health problems. It significantly reduces levels of the protective HDL cholesterol while increasing the ability of LDL cholesterol to form arterial plaque through the effects of oxidation. The good news is stopping smoking makes an almost immediate impact on cholesterol levels, with levels back near a non-smoker’s range within six months of stopping.While quitting smoking may be one of the hardest things you ever do, it is well worth the effort.Find reasons to live longer and focus on those as the “reason why” you’re going to quit. And be sure to save some of the money you formerly spent on cigarettes to treat yourself as a reward!
Increasing your intake of fatty wild fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, herring, and bluefish, is a good way to increase Omega-3 intake. Even easier is to take a natural fish oil supplement. Increasing Omega-3 fatt acids has been proven to lower triglycerides and also to lower LDL cholesterol when you also decrease the amount of saturated fat you eat. Fish oil has also been linked to less artery-blocking clumping activity of blood platelets.
Garlic has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol and improve the overall ratio of HDL to LDL. Most proponents of using garlic for health suggest using only fresh garlic. One great way to get more garlic is to add a clove of garlic to other vegetables in a juicer for a great-tasting health cocktail.
Did You Know?
Garlic is thought to:
Manage cholesterol levels
Reduce arthritis pain
Lower blood pressure
Boost your immune system
For maximum health benefit, eat garlic raw and crushed or very finely chopped.
No discussion of heart health would be complete without mentioning ubiquinone, or Coenzyme Q10 (normally shortened to CoQ10). One of the main reasons statin drugs are so dangerous is they dramatically decrease your body’s CoQ10 levels. CoQ10 is critical for turning food and oxygen into the actual energy your body’s cells use to function. And your heart needs as much as 10 times more CoQ10 than any other organ in your body!
CoQ10 is usually consumed from eating fish, heart and liver, and vegetarians can also find somewhat reasonable levels (though only about a tenth of meat) in soybeans, grapeseed, sesame seeds, peanuts, parsley, spinach, avocados, and nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, and pistachios. If you want enough to protect your heart though, you should take an actual CoQ10 supplement – and you should consider it vital if you are on any kind of statin drug.