Cholesterol is a vital component of our health. It is required to synthesize hormones, is essential for vitamin D production, is necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and is a component of bile, which helps the body digest fats. Cholesterol is something we cannot live without as it is a critical component in maintaining cell membrane integrity, which is required by each cell in the body to maintain proper form in order to facilitate all bodily functions.
Through poor lifestyle and diet choices, health concerns can arise from having too much LDL cholesterol in the body. Particularly for older women, heart disease is of particular concern. By switching to an optimal diet and making healthy lifestyle choices, normal cholesterol levels can be achieved and maintained naturally.
Ensuring adequate exercise and sleep along with eliminating or reducing stress will further contribute to lowering cholesterol. Taking a walk in nature, journaling, and practicing yoga or meditating are excellent ways to relax and reduce stress levels.
Nourishment for Healing High Cholesterol
Using diet as a way to lower and maintain healthy cholesterol levels is one of the most effective methods. It is best to consume foods that help increase HDL cholesterol while lowering LDL cholesterol. Such foods are:
Foods rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as avocado, flax seeds, and walnuts
High fiber foods, such as ground flax seeds and psyllium husks, as they provide soluble fiber to remove excess cholesterol from the body
Fatty fishes, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines
A variety of whole- and multi-grain products, such as bran and oats
More omega-3 essential fatty acids - stock up on foods containing omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s raise HDL and lower LDL cholesterol levels. Some sources include avocado, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, cod liver oil, olive oil, salmon and cold-water fish, walnuts, almonds, and flax seed oil. Be sure to rotate cold-water fish (wild cod, salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and black cod) and the oils (flaxseed oil, coconut oil, and olive oil) to ensure you maximize your nutrient diversity.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber - beans and lentils, apples, dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, oats, peas, carrots, ground flax seeds, and psyllium husks are all good sources of soluble fiber, which has a powerful cholesterol-lowering effect by binding fats and absorbing cholesterol. Fiber also helps to pull toxins through your system and increase elimination, regulate blood pressure, normalize blood sugar levels, and support heart health.
Eat some nuts every day - choose raw almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts, all of which contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
Add in CoQ10-rich foods - sesame seeds, walnuts, adzuki beans, spinach, broccoli, sweet potato, garlic, parsley, avocado, cauliflower, pasture-raised chicken, pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed meats, and liver are all great sources.
Eat plenty of blueberries, garlic, and apples - these foods easily combine with many other foods to make delicious meals. Garlic and blueberries lower blood pressure and cholesterol while the fiber pectin in apples decreases the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver. Using these ingredients in your meals daily can make a healthy impact on your cholesterol levels.
Drink green tea - the antioxidants it contains help lower cholesterol and prevent the cholesterol in your blood from oxidizing. Green tea also lowers blood pressure. Consider swapping your coffee for tea, or making green tea your mid-afternoon beverage.
Elimination of Trans and Saturated Fats
Just as a proper diet is crucial, elimination of “cholesterol-contributing” foods is just as important. Saturated fat and trans fat have been attributed to increased LDL cholesterol levels. Saturated fat is often found in high amounts in both red meat and vegetable oils (such as palm oil). Trans fats are a byproduct of a chemically-made fat that has no nutritional value and they increase LDL cholesterol while decreasing HDL cholesterol, the good kind. It is best to avoid trans fats whenever possible, as they are not nutritionally beneficial. However, saturated fats do provide some benefit by lowering triglyceride levels, so it is best to consume these in moderation.
There Is No Need to Avoid Eggs...
It is important to note that eggs do not contribute to raising LDL cholesterol, aka “bad cholesterol.” Cholesterol should be viewed differently as it relates to cardiovascular disease. It has been shown that the consumption of up to 3 eggs per day in healthy individuals actually results in raising HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL cholesterol, improving both HDL and LDL function and raising antioxidant levels. There is actually no proof that specifically links cholesterol in eggs with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) – consuming hibiscus tea twice daily helps to raise HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol.
Take: In tea or infusion form daily
Hawthorn (Crataegus) – the leaves, berries, and flowers of the hawthorn plant are used to lower total cholesterol through its properties which break down fats and through excretion by way of increasing bile production (cholesterol is a component of bile).
Take: As a tincture or infusion. The recommended daily dose for Hawthorn is 600-900 mg in capsule form.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) – the cholesterol-lowering component curcumin, which is in turmeric, inhibits uptake of cholesterol in the gastrointestinal tract and enhances excretion through bile. It is best to consume turmeric with either black pepper or fat to increase absorption.
Dosing recommendation is 500 mg daily.
Ginger (Zingiber Officinalis) – inhibits cholesterol absorption and improves its excretion through bile by increasing bile secretion.
The recommended dosage is 100-200 mg daily. Ginger is lovely fresh as a tea or cooked into meals.
Olive leaf – the compound in olive leaf extract known as oleuropein is a polyphenol that reduces the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This triggers anti-inflammatory reactions and prevents arterial plaque formation which is derived from cholesterol, calcium, and other substances.
Effective dosage is between 250-500 mg . *not to be taken long-term.
Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – reduces total cholesterol levels by decreasing absorption and increasing the flow of bile. Licorice root also inhibits LDL cholesterol oxidation. The recommended dosage of licorice root is 200 mg daily.
Supportive Essential Oils
Essential oils can further help lower cholesterol. Use in a diffuser or with a carrier oil daily or as desired.
Clove is considered one the best essential oils to help reduce cholesterol levels naturally. Its main component, Eugenol, is known for preventing blood clotting.
Lemongrass has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to help boost the immune system.
Lavender and cypress contain properties known to reduce emotional stress, which has been linked to decreased cholesterol levels.
The antioxidant properties of rosemary have also been linked to lowering cholesterol levels.
Fish oil – contains an abundance of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to increase HDL cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids also fight and prevent inflammation, and with inflammation being a marker for a gamut of debilitating health conditions, getting enough omega-3s is critical for maintaining good health. Recommended dosage is 1,000-2,000 mg daily.
Red yeast rice extract – is a traditional Chinese supplement widely used for lowering LDL cholesterol. White rice is fermented with yeast and the result is a product that contains a substantial amount of monacolin-K, an inhibitor of cholesterol synthesis that is comparable to statin drugs. Significant reductions in LDL cholesterol are seen when supplementing with 1,200 mg of red yeast rice extract twice daily.
CoQ10 – an enzyme that lowers cholesterol levels, it has antioxidant properties that inhibit oxidation of LDL cholesterol and it plays a key role in energy production. CoQ10 has been found to be deficient in people with various types of cardiovascular conditions. The recommended dosage is 200-300 mg twice daily.
Niacin (vitamin B3) – decreases the breakdown of HDL cholesterol and lowers the rate of synthesis of LDL cholesterol. Suggested dosage is 1,500 mg daily.
Aged garlic – its benefits have been studied extensively. Aged garlic extract (AGE) in particular has been shown to reduce total cholesterol by inhibiting cholesterol synthesis. Garlic also helps to lower blood pressure, stimulate the immune system, and reduce symptoms of upper respiratory infections. Studies show effective dosing of AGE is between 2,400-7,200 mg daily.
*You should not take a garlic supplement if you are on any type of blood thinning medication or if you need surgery in the near future, as high doses of garlic may interfere with your blood’s ability to clot.
Through dietary and lifestyle changes, such as incorporating essential oils and getting enough exercise and sleep, women can naturally lower and maintain their cholesterol. These changes may take time, and there is no need to incorporate them all at once. A gradual transition into these changes is recommended to ensure your body’s adequate adjustment to them.