Low-density lipoprotein—also known as “bad cholesterol”—can lead to various health problems and cardiovascular disease. Luckily, there are ways to lower your bad cholesterol and maintain a higher level of health.
Avoid Saturated Fats
Cholesterol is created naturally by the body, but it can also be found in animal products such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy. For most people, the mix of fats in the diet influences cholesterol in the bloodstream far more than cholesterol in food does. Bad fats—meaning trans- and saturated fats—can increase the risk for certain diseases. Try substituting canola oil or olive oil for vegetable oil, butter, margarine, lard, or shortening; cut back on meat and eat more fish, nuts, and seeds.
We all know the health benefits that result from good cardiovascular exercise. Exercise stimulates enzymes that help move LDL from the blood (and blood-vessel walls) to the liver. From there, the cholesterol is converted into bile (for digestion) or excreted. So the more you exercise, the more LDL your body expels. Aerobic exercises, such as running, cycling, jogging, and swimming, appear to benefit cholesterol the most; and more intense exercise is actually better than moderate exercise for lowering cholesterol.
Eat More Fiber
You probably know fiber is good for you, and you probably know you’re not getting enough of it in your diet. The typical American is only getting 50% of the fiber needed in their daily diet. Fruits and vegetables, including whole grains, are excellent sources not only of heart-healthy antioxidants, but also cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber. Soluble fiber, in particular, can help lower cholesterol. Think of it like a sponge that absorbs cholesterol in the digestive tract. Good sources of soluble fiber include dried beans, oats, and barley, as well as fiber products containing psyllium.
Green, Green, Green
Today, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, second only to water. Hundreds of millions of people drink tea around the world, and studies suggest that green tea in particular has many health benefits. The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols. Catechins block the formation of bad (LDL) cholesterol in the body and, at the same time, increases good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Researchers believe that green tea lowers blood cholesterol by reducing its absorption in the digestive tract, while increasing its rate of excretion.