Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in all animal tissue, including humans, and is found in all foods that come from animal sources. The highest sources of dietary cholesterol come from egg yolks and organ meats such as the liver or kidneys.
There are two primary forms of cholesterol; low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and high-density lipoproteins (HDLs). LDL cholesterol is considered the bad cholesterol because its primary purpose is to provide cholesterol to the cells. It is transported through the blood stream and tends to drop off along the way, clogging arteries and blood vessels, and contributing to plaque formation. HDL cholesterol on the other hand removes LDL cholesterol from the circulatory system and returns it to the liver which removes it from the body.
For people who have high LDL cholesterol levels the first thing their doctor will recommend is a cholesterol lowering diet. This can include eating low cholesterol foods and cutting saturated fats from the diet. But there are also other ways to help lower LDL cholesterol levels and those include:
1. Exercise – In the sedentary lifestyle most people live today it only makes sense that our susceptibility to disease is much greater. Just 30 minutes of exercise 3 or 4 times a week can significantly lower the risk for many major life threatening disease. So why does exercise lower LDL cholesterol levels?
The energy the body needs to exercise comes from sugars, fats, and proteins. After the sugars and proteins are burned the body turns to its fat stores which must be converted to a usable form of energy. To do this the liver increases its output of HDL cholesterol which circulates through the blood stream picking up LDL cholesterol which is converted into energy for use during exercise. Just like that going for a walk decreases the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body.
2. Eat a low fat diet – One of the interesting things about cholesterol is that eating foods high in cholesterol is not necessarily bad. While they should be eaten in moderation the big culprit in raising cholesterol is a diet high in saturated fat, from both animal and plant sources.
3. Eat more soluble fiber – Actually it is important to get plenty of both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, but in the case of cholesterol fiber from fruits and vegetables is the most important. Soluble fiber removes cholesterol from the body by binding to it.
4. Red yeast rice – Many of the Statin drugs made to control cholesterol are made from red yeast rice. It only makes sense that taking it in its natural state would work to help lower cholesterol levels by its ability to limit the production of cholesterol.
5. De-stress your life – Being chronically stressed affects the levels of cholesterol in the body. In fact people who eat a cholesterol lowering diet but have a high stress level may not see any significant reduction in their LDL levels.
6. Smoking – If you smoke you better stop. Smoking increases the build up of plaque in the arteries, exacerbating the affects of high levels of LDL cholesterol.
Reducing high LDL cholesterol levels is vitally important in the prevention of coronary artery and heart disease. It is also important to work closely with your doctor to help insure that the steps you are taking to lower cholesterol are working.