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10 natural ways to lower your cholesterol levels

10 natürliche Möglichkeiten, um Ihren Cholesterinspiegel zu senken

Cholesterol is made in your liver and has many important functions. For example, it helps to keep the walls of your cells flexible and is needed to make several hormones.

However, like everything in the body, too much cholesterol or cholesterol in the wrong places creates problems.

Like fat, cholesterol does not dissolve in water. Instead, its transportation in the body depends on molecules called lipoproteins, which carry cholesterol, fat and fat-soluble vitamins in the blood.

Different types of lipoproteins have different effects on health. For example, high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) lead to cholesterol buildup in the walls of blood vessels, which can lead to clogged arteries, strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure

In contrast, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) helps carry cholesterol away from blood vessel walls and helps prevent these diseases

This article will discuss 10 natural ways to raise the "good" HDL cholesterol and lower the "bad" LDL cholesterol.

The link between diet and blood cholesterol

The liver produces as much cholesterol as the body needs. It packages cholesterol with fat in very low density lipoproteins (VLDL).

As VLDL delivers fat to cells throughout the body, it changes to the denser LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, which carries cholesterol wherever it is needed.

The liver also makes high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which carries unused cholesterol back to the liver. This process is called reverse cholesterol transport, and protects against clogged arteries and other types of heart disease.

Some lipoproteins, particularly LDL and VLDL, are susceptible to free radical damage in a process called oxidation. Oxidized LDL and VLDL are even more damaging to heart health (3).

Although food companies often advertise products as low in cholesterol, dietary cholesterol actually has little effect on the amount of cholesterol in the body.

This is because the liver changes the amount of cholesterol it makes depending on how much you eat. When your body absorbs more cholesterol from your diet, it makes less in the liver.

For example, one study randomly assigned 45 adults to eat more cholesterol in the form of two eggs daily. In the end, those who ate more cholesterol did not have higher total cholesterol levels or changes in lipoproteins, compared to those who ate less cholesterol

While dietary cholesterol has little effect on cholesterol levels, other foods in your diet can worsen them, such as family history, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.

Likewise, several other lifestyle choices can help increase beneficial HDL and decrease harmful LDL. Below are 10 natural ways to improve your cholesterol levels.

1. focus on monounsaturated fats

Unlike saturated fats, unsaturated fats have at least a double chemical bond that changes the way they are used in the body. Monounsaturated fats have only one double bond.

Although some recommend a low-fat diet for weight loss, a study of 10 men found a 6-week, low-fat diet reduced levels of harmful LDL, but also reduced beneficial HDL

In contrast, a diet high in monounsaturated fats reduced harmful LDL but also protected higher levels of healthy HDL.

A study of 24 adults with high blood cholesterol came to the same conclusion, where a diet high in monounsaturated fat increased beneficial HDL by 12%, compared to a diet low in saturated fat

Monounsaturated fatty acids can also reduce the oxidation of lipoproteins, which contributes to clogged arteries. A study of 26 people found that replacing polyunsaturated fats with monounsaturated fats in the diet reduced the oxidation of fats and cholesterol

Overall, monounsaturated fats are healthy because they reduce harmful LDL cholesterol, increase good HDL cholesterol and reduce harmful oxidation (9Reliable source).

Here are a few great sources of monounsaturated fats. Some are also good sources of polyunsaturated fats:

Olives and olive oil
Canola oil
Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and cashews


Monounsaturated fatty acids such as those found in olive oil, canola oil, nuts and avocados reduce "bad" LDL, increase "good" HDL and reduce oxidation that contributes to clogged arteries.

2. use polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3s

Polyunsaturated fatty acids have multiple double bonds that make them behave differently in the body than saturated fats. Research shows that polyunsaturated fatty acids reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease.

One study replaced saturated fats in 115 adult diets with polyunsaturated fats for eight weeks. In the end, total and LDL cholesterol levels were reduced by around 10%

Another study included 13,614 adults. They replaced saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats and provided about 15% of total calories. Their risk of coronary heart disease fell by almost 20%

Polyunsaturated fatty acids also appear to reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Another study changed the diet of 4,220 adults, replacing 5% of their calories from carbohydrates with polyunsaturated fats. Their blood sugar and fasting insulin levels dropped, indicating a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a particularly heart-healthy type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. They are found in seafood and fish oil supplements

Omega-3 fats are found in high amounts in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and deep-sea tuna such as bluefin or albacore, and to a lesser extent in shellfish including shrimp (15).

Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include seeds and nuts, but not peanuts.


All polyunsaturated fats are heart-healthy and may reduce the risk of diabetes. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat with additional heart benefits.

3. avoid trans fats

Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been modified through a process called hydrogenation.

This is done to make the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils more stable as an ingredient. Many margarines and shortenings are made from partially hydrogenated oils.

The resulting trans fats are not fully saturated, but are solid at room temperature. For this reason, food companies have used trans fats in products such as spreads, pastries and cookies - they provide more texture than unsaturated, liquid oils.

Unfortunately, partially hydrogenated trans fats are handled differently in the body than other fats, and not in a good way. Trans fats increase total cholesterol and LDL, but decrease beneficial HDL by up to 20%

A study of global health patterns estimated trans fats could be responsible for 8% of heart disease deaths worldwide. Another study estimated that a law restricting trans fats in New York will reduce heart disease deaths by 4.5%

In the United States and a growing number of other countries, food companies are required to list the amount of trans fats in their products on nutrition labels.

However, these labels can be misleading because they are allowed to round off if the amount of trans fat per serving is less than 0.5 grams. This means that some foods contain trans fat even though their labels say "0 grams trans fat per serving".

To avoid this trick, read the ingredients in addition to the nutrition label. If a product contains "partially hydrogenated" oil, it has trans fat and should be avoided.


Foods with "partially hydrogenated" oil in the ingredients contain trans fats and are harmful, even if the label claims the product has "0 grams of trans fat per serving."

4. eat soluble fiber

Soluble fiber is a group of different compounds in plants that dissolve in water and cannot be digested by humans.

However, the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut can digest soluble fiber. In fact, they need it for their own nutrition. These good bacteria, also called probiotics, reduce both harmful types of lipoproteins, LDL and VLDL

In a study of 30 adults, taking 3 grams of soluble fiber supplements daily for 12 weeks reduced lDL by 18%

Another study of fortified breakfast cereals found that added soluble fiber from pectin reduced LDL by 4% and fiber from psyllium reduced LDL by 6%

Soluble fiber may also help increase the cholesterol benefits of taking a statin drug.

A 12-week study had 68 adults add 15 grams of the psyllium product Metamucil to their daily 10-mg dose of the lipid-lowering drug simvastatin. This proved to be as effective as taking a larger 20 mg dose of the statin without fiber

The benefits of soluble fiber reduce disease risk. A comprehensive review of several studies found that high fiber intakes of both soluble and insoluble fiber reduced the risk of death by almost 15% over 17 years

Another study of over 350,000 adults found that those who consumed the most fiber from grains and cereals lived longer, and they were 15-20% less likely to die during the 14-year study period

The best sources of soluble fiber include beans, peas and lentils, fruit, oats and whole grains. Fiber supplements such as psyllium are also safe and inexpensive sources.


Soluble fiber nourishes healthy probiotic gut bacteria and removes cholesterol from the body, reducing LDL and VLDL. Good sources include beans, peas, lentils, fruit, psyllium and whole grains including oats.

5. exercise

Exercise is a win-win situation for heart health. Not only does it improve physical fitness and help fight obesity, but it also reduces harmful LDL and increases beneficial HDL

In one study, twelve weeks of combined aerobic and resistance exercise reduced particularly harmful oxidized LDL in 20 overweight women

These women exercised three days a week with 15 minutes of aerobic activity each day, including walking and jumping jacks, resistance band training, and low-intensity Korean dance.

While even low-intensity exercises like walking increase HDL, the benefits increase

Based on a review of 13 studies, 30 minutes of activity five days a week is enough to improve cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Ideally, aerobic activity should increase heart rate to about 75% of maximum. Resistance training should be 50% of maximum effort.

Activity that increases heart rate to 85% of maximum increases HDL and also decreases LDL. The longer the duration, the greater the effects

Resistance exercise can reduce LDL even at modest intensity. At maximum effort, it also increases HDL. Increasing the number of sets or repetitions increases the benefit


Any type of exercise improves cholesterol and promotes heart health. The longer and more intense the exercise, the greater the benefits.

6. losing weight

Diet affects the way your body absorbs and produces cholesterol.

A two-year study of 90 adults on one of three randomly assigned weight loss diets found weight loss on one of the diets increased the absorption of cholesterol from the diet and decreased the creation of new cholesterol in the body

Over these two years, "good" HDL increased while "bad" LDL did not change, reducing the risk of heart disease.

In another similar study of 14 older men, "bad" LDL also decreased, providing even greater heart protection.

A study of 35 young women showed reduced formation of new cholesterol in the body during weight loss over six months

Overall, weight loss has a double benefit on cholesterol by increasing beneficial HDL and decreasing harmful LDL.


Weight loss reduces total cholesterol, in part by reducing the formation of new cholesterol in the liver. Weight loss had different, though generally beneficial, effects on HDL and LDL in different studies.

7 Do not smoke

Smoking increases the risk of heart disease in several ways. One of them is by changing how the body deals with cholesterol.

The immune cells in smokers are unable to clear cholesterol from blood vessel walls back into the blood for transportation to the liver. This damage is related to tobacco tar and not nicotine

These dysfunctional immune cells may contribute to the more rapid development of clogged arteries in smokers.

In a large study of several thousand adults in Pacific Asia, smoking was associated with decreased HDL levels and increased total cholesterol

Fortunately, quitting smoking can reverse these harmful effects


Smoking appears to increase bad lipoproteins, decrease "good" HDL and hinder the body's ability to send cholesterol back to the liver to be stored or broken down. Quitting smoking can reverse these effects.

8. use alcohol in moderation

In moderation, the ethanol in alcoholic beverages increases HDL and reduces the risk of heart disease.

A study of 18 adult women found that drinking 24 grams of alcohol from white wine daily improved HDL by 5% compared to drinking equal amounts of white grape juice

Alcohol also improves 'reverse cholesterol transport', which means that cholesterol is removed from the blood and blood vessel walls and returned to the liver. This reduces the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease

While moderate alcohol consumption reduces the risk of heart disease, too much alcohol damages the liver and increases the risk of addiction. The recommended limit is two drinks a day for men and one for women


1-2 drinks per day can improve hdL cholesterol and reduce the risk of clogged arteries. However, heavy alcohol consumption increases heart disease risk and harms the liver.

9 Consider plant sterols and stanols

Several types of supplements show promise for managing cholesterol.

Plant stanols and sterols are plant-based versions of cholesterol. Because they resemble cholesterol, they are absorbed from the diet like cholesterol.

However, because parts of their chemistry differ from human cholesterol, they do not contribute to clogged arteries.

Instead, they lower cholesterol levels by competing with human cholesterol. When plant sterols are absorbed from the diet, this replaces the intake of cholesterol.

Small amounts of plant stanols and sterols are found naturally in vegetable oils, and are also added to certain oils and butter substitutes.

One study of 60 men and women found eating yogurt with one gram of plant stanols reduced LDL by about 15%, compared to a placebo. Another study showed that they reduced LDL by 20%

Despite these benefits for cholesterol, available studies have not proven that stanols or sterols reduce the risk of heart disease. The higher doses in supplements are not as well tested as the small doses in vegetable oils


Plant stanols and sterols in vegetable oil or margarines compete with cholesterol absorption and reduce LDL by up to 20%. They have not been shown to reduce heart disease.

10. try supplements

There is strong evidence that fish oil and soluble fiber improve cholesterol and promote heart health. Another supplement, coenzyme Q10, shows promise in improving cholesterol, although its long-term benefits are not yet known.

Fish oil

Fish oil is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

A study of 42 adults found that taking 4 grams of fish oil daily reduced the total amount of fat carried in the blood. In another study, taking 6 grams of fish oil daily increased HDL

A study of over 15,000 adults also found that omega-3 fatty acids, including from fish oil supplements, reduced the risk of heart disease and increased life expectancy


Psyllium is a form of soluble fiber available as a supplement.

A four-week study of 33 adults found that cookies fortified with 8 grams of psyllium reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by almost 10%

Another study found similar results with a 5-gram psyllium supplement twice daily. LDL and total cholesterol decreased by approximately 5% over an extended period of 26 weeks

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q 10 is a food chemical that helps cells produce energy. It is similar to a vitamin, except that the body can produce its own Q10 to prevent deficiency.

Even if there is no deficiency, additional Q10 in the form of supplements may have benefits in some situations.

Several studies with a total of 409 participants found coenzyme Q10 supplements reduced total cholesterol. In these studies, LDL and HDL did not change

Coenzyme Q10 supplements may also be beneficial in the treatment of heart failure, although it is unclear whether they reduce the risk of developing heart failure or heart attacks


Fish oil supplements and soluble fiber supplements such as psyllium improve cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Coenzyme Q10 supplements reduce total cholesterol levels, but it is unclear whether this prevents heart disease.

The bottom line

Cholesterol has important functions in the body, but can cause clogged arteries and heart disease if it gets out of control.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is susceptible to free radical damage and is the biggest contributor to heart disease. In contrast, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) protects against heart disease by carrying cholesterol away from blood vessel walls and back to the liver.

If your cholesterol is out of balance, lifestyle interventions are the first line of treatment.

Unsaturated fats, soluble fiber and plant sterols and stanols can increase good HDL and decrease bad LDL. Exercise and weight loss can also help.

Eating trans fats and smoking are harmful and should be avoided.

If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, have them checked by your doctor. A simple blood sample taken after an overnight fast is all that is required.

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