Cholesterol in and of itself is actually not totally bad; your body naturally produces and uses it for various purposes. High levels, however, are problematic because it builds up in your arteries, increasing your risk for heart attack and stroke. Healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating well and exercising regularly are cornerstones of treatment; medication is also common but may come with undesirable side effects. There are many natural treatments that may help, but they will only be effective if you use them persistently and consistently; do not stop taking cholesterol medications or adjust your dosages without talking to your doctor first.
This ancient mind/body practice has been steadily gaining popularity in the West and it may offer benefits for a number of health conditions. Research suggests that yoga may be helpful in lowering levels of LDL, or ‘’bad’’ cholesterol between 14 and 35 percent. How it does this is unclear but one possible explanation is that certain poses aid the body in digesting food more efficiently and performing other functions related to processing and ridding the body of excess cholesterol; it is also good for controlling weight and reducing stress– a major trigger of unhealthy lifestyle choices–,both of which affect cholesterol levels. It may also help raise HDL or ‘’good’’ cholesterol, but this has not been as firmly established—some studies have found it helped while others found no significant impact.
There are many natural supplements ranging from vitamins to herbal formulations that may help lower cholesterol levels. Vitamin B3 or niacin has been firmly established as an agent that lowers cholesterol, ,but to achieve therapeutic benefits, you need much higher doses than required to avoid deficiency—you should discuss this with a healthcare professional. Red yeast rice is a staple treatment for high cholesterol in Chinese medicine—this is another treatment to discuss with a healthcare professional before using. It naturally contains the substances that serve as the base for statin cholesterol medications, which means it essentially as strong as a prescription drug.
Plant sterols are also good—supplementation or eating foods fortified with them are necessary to gain benefits as the amounts naturally present in foods is too little to offer any therapeutic effect. Vitamin D3 is also helpful and not just for cholesterol—low levels of this hormone-like vitamin have been linked to an increased risk of a host of conditions.Omega-3 fatty acids are another good choice for overall heart health.
Meditation is a great tool for promoting heart health and research suggests it may play a direct role in lowering cholesterol levels. One technique that has been studied specifically for cholesterol reduction is the transcendental meditation technique, which involves sitting and repeating a mantra to yourself in your head. You can find lots of information on TM online, such as at the official site for the TM program. Like yoga, meditation may directly impact the bodily functions involved in the production and processing of cholesterol.
If you have high cholesterol or other risk factors for heart disease, the recommendation to exercise regularly is probably one of the most common suggestions of health care professionals. We have been told to eat right and exercise so much throughout our lives that we may begin to tune it out and forget how utterly important these things are. If you are interested in using natural methods to lower your cholesterol, exercise is a necessary piece of the puzzle. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, which helps promote healthy cholesterol levels, but it appears to go much deeper. Exercise appears to trigger the production of enzymes that move cholesterol from the blood to the liver, where it will be used to create bile acids for digestion or leave the body altogether; it may also increase the size of cholesterol particles—the bigger they are, the less likely they will be able to squeeze into the linings of the blood vessels and the heart.
Kelli Cooper, writing for Vascular Surgery Associates, a Virginia-based practice of cardiac surgeons is a freelance writer who covers a range of health topics. She especially enjoys sharing tips on how to manage your health naturally.