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A stethoscope and oats in a heart shape to represent heart health

Q & A: how to lower your cholesterol naturally

“How can I lower my cholesterol naturally?”

Medial herbalist Gabriella Clarke provides the answer.

When it comes to high cholesterol, a diet high in saturated fats, smoking, drinking too much alcohol and lack of exercise are the usual culprits. High cholesterol can also be inherited, which may explain why some people are affected despite a healthy lifestyle. Statins are the drug of choice for managing cholesterol but lifestyle changes and supplements can also make a difference.

So what are the best ways to lower your cholesterol?

DIET & EXERCISE

Get moving

Daily exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, boosts fitness, reduces serum cholesterol and lowers high blood pressure. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an intense session at the gym or a brisk walk – it all counts, so get moving!

Eat smart

Cut out saturated fats and trans fats found in margarines and pre-packed foods. Include lots of vegetables, fruit and wholegrains in your diet and try to eat oily fish at least three times a week. Specific foods that have been shown to help reduce high cholesterol include onions, garlic, oats, apples, almonds and soya products such as soya milk and tofu. Try to put some or all of these on your daily menu.

SUPPLEMENTS THAT CAN HELP

Red rice yeast

This traditional Chinese remedy contains a natural statin known as lovastatin. Some studies have shown that it can significantly lower the level of bad cholesterol LDL in the blood. It can however cause stomach discomfort and is not suitable if you suffer from candida.

Plant sterols

Plant sterols and stanols (phytosterols) are found naturally in plants and have been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects. They work by mimicking cholesterol and competing with it for absorption.

Probiotics

Gut flora seems to have an enormous influence on our general health and high cholesterol is no exception. Some studies have shown that certain probiotics may help to keep blood cholesterol at optimum levels. Look out for ones containing lactobacilli.