7. Exercise Regularly
Similar to many other recommendations in this article, exercise will improve almost all aspects of your health, including cholesterol. Exercise literally gets your blood pumping, which can help reduce plaque build-up in your blood vessels in the short term (26). In the long term, exercise improves cardiovascular fitness and reduces both LDL and total cholesterol levels (27). You’ll also notice a positive difference in your weight and body composition. It’s truly a key to lowering cholesterol naturally.
Nervous about going to the gym? First off, don’t be. You should only ever feel good about taking control of your health. Secondly, it’s ok to start slow. Begin by incorporating a walk into your schedule 3-4 days a week (or daily, preferably) (28). Move on to a more rigorous plan when daily walks are no longer a struggle.
8. Increase Omega-3s In Your Diet
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat usually found in salmon, chia seeds, and walnuts (to name a few). Like all polyunsaturated fats, Omega-3 sources help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. This is confirmed by multiple clinical studies, in both controlled and cohort research approaches (29,30).
Omega-3-rich foods really are some of the best foods to lower cholesterol levels, but that’s not all. There are additional benefits associated with Omega-3 intake. These include reduced inflammation, lower triglyceride levels, and lower blood pressure. In addition, omega-3 supplements are widely available.
9. Eat Your Probiotics and Prebiotics
With all of the emphasis placed on healthy eating, one might forget the importance of the delivery system: a healthy gut. Also known as the second brain, it’s only been in the last several years that researchers and scientists realize the true impact of healthy intestinal flora (31). The bottom line: the naturally occurring bacteria in your gut can make all the difference in how well your body functions.
Probiotics are live, healthy bacteria that you can find in fermented products like yogurt and kimchi. They control the growth of bad bacteria and encourage a healthy digestive system. Prebiotics are what probiotics feed off of – carbohydrates that the human body does not digest. Asparagus, oatmeal, and bananas all contain prebiotic carbohydrates (32).
In regards to lowering cholesterol naturally, studies show that probiotic/prebiotic consumption can help reduce triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels. Exactly how probiotics and prebiotics make this happen isn’t fully understood, but many scientists believe it is through improved liver and bile duct function (33). Positive results do appear to be dependent on the strain of probiotic bacteria. If you choose to supplement, make sure to look for digestive-specific strains (such as Lactobacillus gasseri) or ask your doctor for a prescription probiotic.