4 non pharmaceutical ways to improve your Cholesterol

July 13, 2017
Lyndall McAlpine

In my last post I covered Cholesterol and went through some myths surrounding it.

Diet can play an important role in improving your cholesterol levels. Different foods improve cholesterol in various ways, here are the 3 main ways:

#1 Fibre

Soluble fibre can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream by binding cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system, dragging  them out of the body before they get into circulation. Soluble fibre is found in foods such as:

  • Whole grains such as oats and barley
  • Vegetables such as beans (green, navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas), eggplant,
  • Fruit rich in pectin (a type of soluble fibre) such as prunes, apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits.

Recent research suggests that over 50% of Australian adults do not consume the recommended 25-30 grams of fibre a day

  • Fibre supplements can help top up your fibre intake. I add 1 Tbs Fibergy to my morning smoothie/shake which gives me a whopping 12g done and dusted!

#2 Sterols and Stanols 

Phyto (or plant) sterols and stanols can decrease cholesterol levels by interfering with its absorption. The richest sources of naturally-occurring phytosterols are found in

  • minimally processed whole grains such as wheat germ, wheat bran,
  • nuts such as peanut  and almonds,
  • seeds and legumes,
  • non-hydrogenated vegetable oils,
  • breads and cereals
  • vegetables such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower

#3 Fats

  • Unsaturated fats that help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Nuts such as walnuts, almonds and other tree nuts contain unsaturated fats and have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways.
  • Avocados are a potent source of nutrients as well as monounsaturated fatty acids. According to a recent study,adding an avocado a day to a heart-healthy diet can help improve LDL levels in people who are overweight or obese.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, although they don’t directly affect LDL levels, they have other heart benefits: reduce blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots, reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms. In people who have already had heart attacks, fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acids, may reduce the risk of sudden death.

……and Exercise

Coupling a healthy diet with exercise produces better results than diet alone. Exercise can raise the HDL levels. Doing 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat) on most days can improve your cholesterol levels.

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