Cholesterol runs through the blood carried by molecules called lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Doctors check on cholesterol levels periodically to verify that those lipoproteins are well balanced, and they also look for triglycerides, another type of fat.
When LDL levels (popularly known as "bad cholesterol") are high, they start to build up in the arteries, eventually blocking them, causing heart disease and potentially stroke. An increasing number of Americans, currently 73.5 million adults (31.7%), register high levels of LDL. The good news is that there is a simple way to treat and prevent high cholesterol, and that is changing the way you eat. Including the following herbs in your menu - as a part of a healthy diet - will work wonders to decrease cholesterol levels and keep them under control.
The old myth that nuts increase bad cholesterol has been debunked by numerous scientific studies. Nuts are not only packed with minerals and vitamins, but they are actually rich in non-saturated fats that promote good cholesterol and a healthy cardiovascular system, also preventing weight gain and diabetes.
There's a wide variety of nuts that are easy to find - such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, Brazil nuts, and macadamia nuts - and they can be easily incorporated to your diet as snacks. Just be sure that you are eating them in their natural form, as the packaged presentations are usually high in sodium.
This exotic fruit, native to Central and South America, is a powerful antioxidant. It is charged with fiber, and its phytoesterols have been shown to be effective in reducing the absorption of cholesterol by the intestines, thus lowering the levels of LDL. It also reduces the presence of free radicals that have an influence on blood pressure, showing antihypertensive action.
Acai can be consumed in juices, smoothies, and shakes. Its active compounds can also be found in supplements.
Psyllium is a natural grain that contains 60 - 70% soluble fiber, eight times higher than oat bran. A study concluded that taking psyllium twice daily, along with diet therapy, reduces LDL-cholesterol concentrations in men and women with primary hypercholesterolemia.
Psyllium is easy to incorporate to a healthy diet as a supplement. It can be mixed with water, smoothies, and shakes in its powdered form, and it also can be taken in capsules. To make the most of its effects, it is recommended to consume psyllium before or after every meal with plenty of liquids.
Flax, like psyllium, has a high soluble and insoluble fiber content. Its high unsaturated fatty acid content, most notably omega-3 essential oils, can also help to regulate cholesterol and promote overall wellness. An easy way to include flax as part of a healthy diet is by adding it to cereals, salads, and smoothies. It can also be found as an essential oil in capsules.
Garlic is not only one of the most popular seasoning herbs around the world, but it also has the ability to improve the function of the liver, the organ responsible for controlling healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Garlic is rich in ajoene, a sulfuric compound responsible for thinning the blood and decreasing the presence of lipids. Both aromatic compounds in garlic, ajoene and allicin, contribute to dilating blood vessels and improving circulation. Garlic can be a healthy addition to a wide variety of dishes. It can also be taken raw or in capsules.
High LDL cholesterol levels don't need to be a curse - they can be controlled by merely changing your diet. Start by eating some of these herbs, and your next annual blood work will show the difference.