How to lower blood cholesterol naturally
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 106.7 million Americans age 20 and older have total blood cholesterol levels of 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and higher. That is 35% of the population of the United States! The epidemic of high cholesterol is mainly due to the fats used in packaged and commercial foods. Cholesterol can be lowered by avoiding hydrogenated fats and eating polyunsaturated fats found in fish, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. Unfortunately, essential fatty acids turn rancid rapidly, and manufacturers avoid them to prevent packaged foods from spoiling while they sit in supermarket shelves.
The worst fats for your health are hydrogenated fats because they increase Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol, and they decrease the High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), the "good" cholesterol. Saturated fats like those found in coconut oil and palm kernel oil increase cholesterol levels powerfully, but these are the fats that are used by manufacturers because they do not get stale.
The chart above shows the effects of individual dietary fatty acids on Total Serum Cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol when 1% of the energy from carbohydrates in the diet is replaced by 1% of energy of the specific fatty acids. The chart shows cholesterol increases from lauric acid (C12:0), myristic acid (C14:0), and palmitic acid (C16:0) which are found in coconut oil, palm oil, and butter. Elaidic acid (trans-C18:1), which is present in hydrogenated fats, is the worst because it increases LDL and decreases HDL. The saturated fatty acid stearic acid (C18:0), the monounsaturated oleic acid (C18:1), and the polyunsaturated linoleic acid (C18:2) decrease LDL and increase HDL to various degrees. Here are some steps to lower cholesterol:
- Avoid all hydrogenated fats (they are very common in commercial fried foods and baked goods)
- Reduce sources of saturated fats (butter, coconut oil, palm oil, fat from meats, chicken skin)
- Increase consumption of polyunsaturated fats (fish oil, walnut oil, flax seed oil, grape seed oil)
- Add soluble fiber to your diet (oatmeal, legumes)
Unfortunately, many of the oils available commercially are highly processed. The best thing is not to eat them. Meet your essential fatty acid requirements by eating foods that have the oils, e.g., fish, walnuts, sunflower seeds, etc. Olive oil does not lower cholesterol; it is basically neutral. The reason why olive oil receives a lot of positive promotion is because it is used in the Mediterranean diet, and the Mediterranean diet is associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases, although this is not necessarily because of the oil.
The hardest part in normalizing your cholesterol will be avoiding the vast number of commercial foods that have hydrogenated fats and saturated fats. They include shortening, margarine, butter flavor popcorn, hash browns, french fries, biscuits, baked apple pies, chocolate chip cookies, taco shells, and the list goes on and on. Pay close attention to the food labels.
 Martijti B Katan, Peter L Zock, and Ronald P Mensink, Effects of fats and fatty acids on blood lipids in humans: an overview, Am J Cli. Nutr., 1994;60(suppl):1017S-1022S.
© Copyright - Antonio Zamora