Holistic Ways to Support Healthy Cholesterol: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by: Brilliant Staff

Fact checked by: Dr. Pravesh Saini

Holistic Ways to Support Healthy Cholesterol: A Comprehensive Guide

Cholesterol plays a crucial role in the body, from fortifying cell membranes to synthesizing hormones and vitamins. But keeping your cholesterol levels in normal ranges can be challenging for some, and it is crucial for your long-term health. We’ve drawn upon the latest medical research and complementary practices to answer some of your most pressing questions about cholesterol, and a few expert tips for maintaining healthy levels.

Unpacking Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol:

  1. LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein): also known as “bad” cholesterol,  transports cholesterol from the liver to various cells in the body. Some LDL cholesterol is necessary for proper bodily functions, but it’s essential to keep this type of cholesterol in check for your long-term health.
  2. HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein): this “good” type of cholesterol aids in expelling LDL from the bloodstream, thereby maintaining healthy levels.

Maintaining the right balance of LDL and HDL levels is an important step toward maintaining your heart health. But how exactly can you accomplish this?

Lifestyle Changes

1. Diet Modification

A heart-healthy diet is at the forefront of promoting healthy cholesterol levels:

    • Increase fiber uptake: Consume more dietary fiber from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes to maintain low LDL cholesterol.
    • Select healthier fats: Opt for mono and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, canola oil, and avocados have been found to keep total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels low. Likewise, polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids present in certain fish, nuts, and seeds, also help maintain healthy LDL levels.
    • Reduce Trans fats: These are commonly found in processed foods, like cakes, cookies, and chips. Trans fats raise overall cholesterol levels and, when consumed regularly, elevate your risk of heart problems.
    • Include Omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acids don't have a significant effect on LDL cholesterol; however, they can help support overall heart health by promoting healthy blood pressure levels and supporting proper blood flow. Fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, as are plant sources like flaxseed and walnuts.
    • Avoid processed food, especially red meats: Bacon, hot dogs, and sausages are often high in saturated fat which may be linked to serious heart issues.

2. Regular Exercise

Exercise is an ideal way to promote the right balance of good and bad cholesterol. Try to engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes daily. Consider brisk walking, bike riding, or doing yoga. Exercise can help reinforce healthy HDL and LDL levels, and is an effective tool for maintaining a healthy weight.

3. Weight Management

When you’re overweight, it’s even more critical to keep an eye on your LDL, HDL, and total cholesterol levels . Losing any amount of weight contributes positively to healthy cholesterol levels. Set small, achievable weight loss goals, like losing 1 pound a week. Portion control, eating balanced meals with plenty of veggies and lean proteins, and regular exercise can all aid in weight loss.

4. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Limiting alcohol consumption can have a number of benefits for your health, including your cholesterol. By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of both short- and long-term health risks. For moderate drinking, aim for up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.

5. Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking can help boost your HDL cholesterol level and improve your heart health. This change helps smokers significantly improve their long-term health outcome and quality of life.

Stress Management

Prolonged stress may indirectly affect cholesterol levels by influencing our habits, such as overeating to cope, which can lead to unwanted weight gain and consequently, elevated cholesterol levels. Try practicing stress management techniques like mindfulness meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises.

Dietary Supplements and Herbs

Before starting any supplement, remember to consult with a healthcare professional, as these can interact with other medications and may have side effects. Some beneficial herbs and dietary cholesterol supplements include:

  • Niacin: More commonly known as vitamin B3, niacin can help support a healthy balance of LDL and HDL levels, as well as triglycerides.
  • Psyllium: This water-soluble fiber is derived from the seeds of Plantago ovata and can help support proper LDL cholesterol.
  • Red Yeast Rice: Fermented with Monascus purpureus yeast, Red Yeast Rice contains naturally occuring monacolin K, a cholesterol-targeting compound.
  • Plant Sterols: Consuming 2 g of plant sterols per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Bergamot: Bergamot is a citrus fruit native to Italy. The juice and peel of Bergamot contain chemicals that may help support healthy cholesterol levels and triglycerides in the body.

Keeping your cholesterol in check is a critical step for maintaining cardiovascular health. The advice outlined in this article is meant to encourage small, proactive steps towards improving cholesterol levels, however, we strongly encourage you to consult a healthcare professional before making any serious changes to your daily routine. 


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