Cholesterol is made in your liver and has many important functions. For example, it helps keep the walls of your cells flexible and is needed to make several hormones. However, like anything in the body, too much cholesterol in the wrong places creates problems.
Like fat, cholesterol does not dissolve in water. Instead, its transport in the body depends on molecules called lipoproteins, which carry cholesterol, fat and fat-soluble vitamins in the blood.
Different kinds of lipoproteins have different effects on health. For example, high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) result in cholesterol deposits in blood vessel walls, which can lead to clogged arteries, strokes, heart attacks and kidney failure.
In contrast, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) helps carry cholesterol away from vessel walls and helps prevent these diseases.
Here are 6 natural ways to increase the “good” HDL cholesterol and lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol.
1.Focus on Monounsaturated Fats
Monounsaturated fats may reduce the oxidation of lipoproteins, which contributes to clogged-arteries. Monounsaturated fats are healthy because they decrease harmful LDL cholesterol, increase good HDL cholesterol and reduce harmful oxidation. few great sources of monounsaturated fats are: olive-oil, canola-oil, tree nuts and avocados.
2.Eat Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is a group of different compounds in plants that dissolve in water and that humans can’t digest. However, the beneficial bacteria that live in your intestines can digest soluble-fiber. In fact, they require it for their own nutrition. These good-bacteria, also called probiotics, reduce both harmful kinds of lipoproteins, LDL and VLDL.
3.Limit your intake of foods full of saturated fats and trans fats.
Foods with a lot of saturated fat include butter, fatty flesh like red-meat, full-fat and low-fat dairy products, palm-oil, and coconut-oil. If you see partially hydrogenated fat in the Ingredient List of a food label, that food has trans fats.
Exercise is a win-win for heart health. Not only does it improve physical fitness and help combat obesity, but it also reduces harmful LDL and increases beneficial HDL. In one study, twelve weeks of combined aerobic and resistance exercise reduced the especially harmful oxidized LDL in 20 overweight women. While even low-intensity exercise like walking increases HDL, making your exercise longer and more intense increases the benefit.
Dieting influences the way your body absorbs and produces cholesterol. Weight loss reduces total cholesterol, in part by decreasing the creation of new cholesterol in the liver. Weight loss has had different, though generally beneficial, effects on HDL and LDL in different studies.
6.Choose protein-rich plant foods
Choose protein-rich plant foods such as legumes or beans, nuts, and seeds over meat. Common legumes include lentils, peas, and beans, such as pinto beans, red beans, white beans, and soybeans. They’re full of nutritional riches and are a very healthy, protein-packed alternative to meat. Legumes help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, blood sugar, and insulin levels, and may even lower cancer risk.