Lowering your LDL Cholesterol levels may seem impossible, but I have great news for you! It’s not as difficult as you think and, in many cases, it can be done by making some simple lifestyle changes. Some of them may shock you!
My Lipid Panel numbers went up on my last annual bloodwork test. As a matter of fact, my LDL cholesterol levels went up by 15 points! I try to eat an extremely healthy diet, so I wanted to do some research to find out why this happened. This is what I discovered…
Why do our LDL cholesterol levels go up in the first place?
Saturated and Trans Fats
Saturated fats and trans fats increase our LDL cholesterol levels. Meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products contain these dietary saturated fats. Cow’s milk, cheese, beef, lamb, chicken, pork, some fried fast foods, and processed foods contain trans fats (and artificial trans fats).
Before you think animal proteins are always the culprit, understand that coconuts, coconut oil, coconut milk, cocoa butter, certain oils like palm oil, and even unfiltered coffee (using a French press) can affect the entire lipid panel of your bloodwork, not just the LDL levels. Yes, I said unfiltered coffee!!!
Naturally occurring changes in our bodies
Hormones also play a part in our LDL cholesterol levels. According to The Texas Heart Institute, after a woman reaches menopause, her cholesterol levels rise. This is because LDL cholesterol levels tend to increase during this stage in life naturally. It’s also because post-menopausal women gain, on average, 8-10 pounds and often become more sedentary.
Gradual changes in our lifestyle
We tend to relax with the same routine especially when everything is going well.
I was very strict with my Whole Food Plant-Based diet and lost 50 pounds a few years ago. As most do, I got used to my new figure and new lifestyle. I started to relax a bit and stopped paying attention to some little things. I decreased my daily physical activity, my portion sizes went up a bit, even though my fruit and vegetable intake remained the same.
These are still a big part of my diet, but I may have slacked off a tad. I’m sure this led to my 15-point increase in my LDL cholesterol levels. We need to be mindful and consistent.
How can you lower your LDL cholesterol levels naturally?
According to Dr. Michael Greger’s book “How Not To Die”, these foods have been proven to help:
- Brazil nuts (crazy I know) – There was a small study in Brazil done on 10 subjects. It showed that eating 4 Brazil nuts a month brought cholesterol levels down 20 points in 9 hours! This effect lasted a whole month for each person! That is better than statin drugs! Be careful not to eat too many though, because they contain selenium. Too much selenium can cause liver problems, heart problems and certain cancers. We only need a small amount of selenium, so stick to 4 Brazil nuts a month and no more. My friend eats 4 Brazil nuts on the 4th of each month and that helps her remember.
- Kale shots (also kind of crazy)– Again, a study was done on people drinking 3-4 shots of kale juice every day for 3 months. They lowered LDL cholesterol levels, and raised HDL cholesterol levels to the equivalent of someone running 300 miles!
- Eat a dozen dried apple rings a day (still pretty crazy) – This may lower your LDL cholesterol levels by 16% within 3 months and by 24% within 6 months. This study was done on postmenopausal women. Dr. Greger recommends unsulfured dried fruits to avoid preservatives and added sugars.
- Fruit, nuts, and vegetables – Another study was done by the Glycemic Index creators. It had participants eat nuts, vegetables, and 20 servings of fruit a day for 2 weeks. They lowered their LDL cholesterol levels by a whopping 38 points! Amazing!
- Fiber – Adding only 7 grams of fiber a day can do quite a bit of good! It can control cholesterol, help maintain blood sugar levels, and reduce plaque buildup in the arteries in your brain. This small amount of 7 grams is equal to an apple or a serving of oatmeal… easy peasy!
I highly recommend you read “How Not To Die” by Michael Greger, M.D., FACLM. You can find all these facts and more in this amazing book!
Exercise can’t hurt either
Daily physical activity like cardio, aerobic, and weightlifting exercises is another way to control healthy LDL cholesterol levels.
If you’re not quite there yet that’s okay! Low-intensity exercises also help. These include walking, gardening, and playing with your kids. You can also help increase your HDL (good) cholesterol levels while you lower your LDL cholesterol levels.
You should combine this physical activity with a healthy Whole Food Plant-Based lifestyle and weight loss. Once you do, you’ll be well on your way to lower LDL levels!
Leave the extra fat out of your diet
Make sure that you are limiting added saturated and trans fats from your diet.
What if you’re already eating a plant-based diet? You still need to be careful of the plant sources mentioned above which contain saturated fat such as coconut products.
According to the Center for Nutrition Studies, those who remove all added oils from their diet can really impact their LDL cholesterol levels. Remember that all oil, even olive oil, is 100% fat, and 14% of it is saturated fat. Oil clogs the endothelial cells of your arteries, and it keeps them from moving freely in your bloodstream.
Our body stores this fat very easily and it can stay in your blood vessels. Eventually, it causes plaque build-up, as well as an increase in your LDL cholesterol levels.
In most cases, your LDL cholesterol levels can be lowered. Do this by eating a healthy Whole Food Plant-Based diet, exercise, and eliminating added fats from your diet.
Are you a woman who has been struggling with high LDL cholesterol levels? Would like to work with a Health Coach on lowering them? With me as your Health Coach for guidance, you can reach your health goals!