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The Top 10 Natural Ways to Lower Bad Cholesterol

author image Clay McNight
Clay McNight is currently a nutrition writer with Demand Media Studios.
The Top 10 Natural Ways to Lower Bad Cholesterol
Foods high in saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels, and they tend to be high in cholesterol themselves. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

The lower your low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol, the lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, reports the American Heart Association. In fact, LDL cholesterol can be used to determine your risk for heart attack even better than total cholesterol. By lowering your bad cholesterol through a healthy diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables, you can help keep your heart healthy and free of disease.

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Eat Fruits and Vegetables

Gardener holding a box of fruits and vegetables
Gardener holding a box of fruits and vegetables Photo Credit: gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

A study published in 2004 in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" collected data from 4,466 subjects in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Family Heart Study to determine the relationship between LDL cholesterol levels and a high fruit and vegetable intake. The researchers found an inverse relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and LDL in both men and women.

Lose Weight

Woman's foot stepping onto bathroom scale
Woman's foot stepping onto bathroom scale Photo Credit: Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Obesity is commonly linked to high cholesterol levels. A study published in 2007 in "Diabetes Care" concluded that, in obese men with metabolic syndrome, weight loss was able to reduce LDL concentrations.

Exercise Regularly

Woman's feet hiking in hills with walking poles
Woman's feet hiking in hills with walking poles Photo Credit: Błażej Łyjak/iStock/Getty Images

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, regular physical activity can both lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while simultaneously increasing high-density lipoprotein, the "good" cholesterol. Benefits can be observed from as few as 60 minutes of medium-intensity aerobic exercise per week, although more active individuals will experience greater results.

Eat a Fiber-Rich Diet

Wheat field
Wheat field Photo Credit: florin1961/iStock/Getty Images

A 2008 paper published in "Current Atherosclerosis Report" notes that different types of soluble fiber, including fiber from vegetables and legumes, has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol.

Choose Foods High in Omega-3 Fats

Raw salmon with herbs on wood surface
Raw salmon with herbs on wood surface Photo Credit: anna liebiedieva/iStock/Getty Images

Omega-3 fatty acids are heart-healthy fats that are present in many types of seafood. A 2004 study published in "Metabolism" found that omega-3 fatty acids combined with exercise were able to improve cholesterol levels more than either treatment alone.

Use Fiber Supplements

Vitamin supplements
Vitamin supplements Photo Credit: Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Soluble fiber supplements can be a great source of fiber for individuals who may lack a fiber-rich diet. Fiber supplements including beta-glucan, pectin and guar gum can help lower bad cholesterol.

Limit Saturated Fat

Stick of sliced butter
Stick of sliced butter Photo Credit: YelenaYemchuk/iStock/Getty Images

Regularly consuming foods high in saturated fats can negatively affect your cholesterol levels. In addition, many foods high in saturated fats are also high in cholesterol, which can boost cholesterol levels even higher. Saturated fats are primarily found in animal products such as beef, lamb, pork and dairy products such as butter, cheese and cream. By limiting these foods, you can help bring your LDL cholesterol back to a healthy level.

Avoid Trans Fats

Nutritional label with zero trans fats
Nutritional label with zero trans fats Photo Credit: Jonathan Vasata/iStock/Getty Images

Trans fatty acids can be produced through commercial hydrogenation or naturally in the stomach of ruminant animals. A 2010 study published in the "Public Library of Science" found that all trans fats increased the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol. By avoiding foods that contain trans fats or use hydrogenated oils, you can lower your LDL levels.

Take Psyllium

Tablespoon of psyllium husk
Tablespoon of psyllium husk Photo Credit: Roel Smart/iStock/Getty Images

Of all fiber supplements, psyllium husk in particular is known for its potential to lower cholesterol. MedlinePlus has given psyllium a rating of "likely effective" for reducing cholesterol levels in people with mild to moderately high cholesterol. A dose of 10 to 12 grams daily can reduce LDL cholesterol levels by 5 percent to 10 percent after seven weeks, according to MedlinePlus.

Other Supplements

Uncooked artichokes in bowl
Uncooked artichokes in bowl Photo Credit: Nilgun Tosun Wadey/iStock/Getty Images

According to bestselling author and herbal product formulator Dr. Ray Sahelian, there are several natural supplements, other than fiber, that can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. These include niacin, artichoke leaf, mangosteen and beta sitosterol.

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