Manage Your Cholesterol, Naturally

In the United States, the incidence of deaths resulting from heart disease is 30% higher for African Americans when compared to the white population.

High cholesterol also plays a predominant role in the development of heart disease and stroke. Cholesterol can form sticky plaques inside artery walls, obstructing blood and oxygen flow through the body. These cholesterol-laden plaques can also rupture, releasing plaque fragments that can block arteries in the heart or brain, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

In the United States, the incidence of deaths resulting from heart disease is 30% higher for African Americans when compared to the white population.

A study conducted by the Duke Clinical Research Institute found that African-American patients who had suffered a heart attack were almost two times more likely than white patients to die within a year of treatment. Additionally, according to the CDC, African-American women have the most significant risk of dying from heart disease of any racial, ethnic, or gender population.

For optimal health, you want to limit how much low-density lipoprotein (LDL) your liver makes because that’s the cholesterol that causes clogged arteries.

Simultaneously, you want to maintain adequate amounts of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) that transports cholesterol back to your liver.

Simple changes can make a big difference in helping you to balance your cholesterol. Try making these ideas part of your daily routine.

Adjusting Your Diet

Your liver adjusts how much cholesterol it makes in response to how much you get from food sources.

You can help the process along with these strategies:

1. Increase your fiber. Soluble fiber can reduce the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream and help you live longer. Smart choices include beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
2. Choose healthy fats. Replace solid fats like butter with liquids as much as possible. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish are beneficial.
3. Avoid trans fats. These hydrogenated fats increase total cholesterol and LDL while decreasing HDL. Manufacturers use them to improve shelf-life, so check the labels on cookies, margarine, and other products.
4. Lose weight. Slimming down can lower your cholesterol too. Find a diet you can stick with for the long run. Let your family and friends know about your goals and how they can support you.
5. Drink in moderation. At least one study suggests that having one or two drinks can lower cholesterol for some adults. Keep in mind that heavy drinking has the opposite effect, potentially harming your liver and other organs.
6. Limit red meat. Beef is the top source of saturated fat for many Americans. Consider a plant-based diet or meat-free days with vegetarian or fish dishes. Using low or no-fat dairy products helps too.
7. Switch your snacks. A healthy diet can include some treats—Munch on fruit, nuts, and air-popped popcorn.
8. Cook light. The way you prepare your food matters too. Cut back on cooking oil—Bake and boil instead of frying.

Other Lifestyle Choices

Studies have shown that aerobic exercise and other intelligent choices can enhance the lipid-lowering effects of a heart-friendly diet. As a bonus, many of these habits will improve your overall wellbeing, as well as lower your cholesterol.

Try these lifestyle enhancements:

1. Exercise regularly. There are several theories about why exercise lowers cholesterol, including promoting weight loss and stimulating enzymes that remove cholesterol from your bloodstream. Aerobic activities and resistance training are both beneficial.
2. Move. You’ll see more results if you stay active in between workouts. Do manual chores like vacuuming and raking leaves. Take the stairs instead of riding the elevator.
3. Quit smoking. The tar in tobacco damages blood vessels and increases your risk for high cholesterol. Combining nicotine replacement devices and social support may help you to quit. Keep in mind that many adults make multiple attempts before they succeed.
4. Consider supplements. There’s a big market for cholesterol-reducing supplements like fish oil and niacin. Your doctor can advise you about possible drug interactions and other safety concerns.

Talk with your doctor about developing an action plan based on your individual needs. Natural methods may help you to manage your cholesterol without taking drugs or may enable you to reduce

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