We all need cholesterol. It helps produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids.
It’s when we get too much of the wrong kind that health problems start to develop.
The “bad” cholesterol is LDL (low-density lipoprotein), which builds up on artery walls and increases our risk of cardiovascular disease. The “good” kind is HDL (high-density), which actually helps rid our bodies of LDL.
Here are some tips to help naturally normalize your cholesterol levels:
1. Maintain good sugar levels. Our bodies turn sugar into fat, which in turn leads to high cholesterol – particularly LDL.
2. Eat fewer saturated fats and red, processed or cured meats. These items have been linked to higher levels of bad cholesterol. If a fat is solid at room temperature, it’s not very healthy; reach for olive and avocado oils rather than butter.
3. Eat more garlic. Studies show that garlic can lower total cholesterol by 10 to 12 per cent, so aim for one clove of crushed raw garlic a day. Garlic supplements are a decent backup choice, and onions offer similar benefits.
4. Get enough dietary fibre, which binds with cholesterol in the gastro-intestinal tract before being excreted through the stool. Aim for 30 grams a day. (A cup of black beans is 15 grams; an apple is 5 g; a cup of brown rice is 8 g; a cup of green peas is 9 g). Fruit and vegetable sources typically provide more vitamins and nutrients than cereal sources.
5. Exercise daily for 30 minutes to reduce LDL and elevate HDL levels.
6. Consume more Omega-3 fatty acids. Cold-water fish are a great source.
7. Eat antioxidants such as berries and supplements. LDL is bad because it has oxidized; antioxidants help reduce the number of free radicals that cause that oxidization.
Dr. Erika Kneeland is a naturopathic physician and owner of Braidwood Naturopathic Clinic in Courtenay. For appointments, call 250-334-0655 or visit www.braidwoodnaturopathic.com.