What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is made in your liver and travels throughout your bloodstream. It may not sound particularly good for your body, what with the “waxy” and “fat-like” descriptors, but cholesterol does have some merit.
It’s one of the ingredients the body needs to make new cells. And it’s essential for creating vitamin D, bile acids, and hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen.
But having too much cholesterol can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. That’s why it’s so important you know your level and, if it’s high, take action. These nine lifestyle tips will help you control your cholesterol naturally.
It takes a multifaceted approach
Lowering cholesterol takes a multifaceted approach. It’s not enough to switch from donuts to oatmeal for breakfast or swap out butter for olive oil.
Slashing high cholesterol numbers requires you to make healthy lifestyle choices daily. That means looking at all aspects of your routine, from what you eat, to the activity you get, to bad habits you have.
One word of warning: if you’re currently taking medication, this isn’t a time to go cold turkey. Stay with your current medication dosage and schedule.
Get plenty of soluble fibre
Fibre comes in two types: soluble and insoluble. Both types are an essential part of a healthy diet. But studies show that soluble fibre, found in high-fibre foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds and legumes, can reduce LDL cholesterol by 5 to 10 per cent.
Soluble fibres dissolve in water and other bodily fluids. They don’t stick around long, escorting cholesterol to the toilet, so to speak. “Soluble fibre binds to cholesterol in the intestines and causes the cholesterol to be excreted in the stool,” says Dr Colleen Tewksbury, a senior research investigator and bariatric program manager at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia.
Insoluble fibre, on the other hand, absorbs water and other materials to form regular stools. You need both types, so be sure you get half of each, totalling about 25 to 30 grams per day.