The Good, the Bad, & the Natural
When most people hear the word cholesterol, they associate it with something bad and something they definitely don’t want in their bodies. The truth is, cholesterol is actually made in our bodies. It has many important functions just like blood, calcium, and other substances your body needs in order to survive.
Cholesterol plays a structural role in all cell membranes. It is required by the body in order to make vitamin D in the skin. It helps to regulate proper hormone levels, as well as helps our bodies to be able to digest and absorb fats, nutrients, and vitamins. These processes are mostly carried out by what we consider the ‘good’ cholesterol, HDL. HDL also functions to remove the ‘bad’ cholesterol, LDL, from the blood stream.
LDL is the primary cause of plaque build-up in the arteries. This makes our arteries stiffer and more brittle. Plaque build-up in the arteries has been shown to be present as early as 8-10 years old. This is why it is important to keep tabs on your cholesterol levels.
Once diagnosed with high cholesterol, most doctors recommend that you control it immediately with medications. If your cholesterol is only slightly above what they consider normal the best way may be to modify your diet or use supplements (which have little to no side-effects when compared to Statin medications).
So here they are – Natural ways to lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol and possibly raise your ‘good’ cholesterol in the process:
- Cinnamon – Has been shown to lower LDL, as well as raise HDL cholesterol.
- Red Yeast Rice – Used in Chinese medicine to lower LDL cholesterol.
- Niacin – Has is shown to lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol. This may have an uncomfortable side-effect such as flushing or itching of the face and hands. This should be taken in conjunction with a vitamin B complex.
- Fish Oil – Especially Omega-3’s, have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol.
- Aloe Vera – Can lower LDL cholesterol.
- Vegetables – Increasing veggies in your diet also increases the fiber, which traps fats and cholesterol in the intestine and carries them out of the body.
- Coconut Oil – Lowers LDL and raises HDL cholesterol.
- Turmeric – Lowers LDL and decreases inflammation of the blood vessels.
*It is always safer to ask your doctor before taking some of these supplements. Some may interact with medications and should be monitored under doctor supervision.