Cholesterol is often seen as negative and as a culprit of health ailments and conditions. That’s not the full truth though. Cholesterol is actually needed and necessary for health and well-being. Cholesterol helps the body produce Vitamin D, multiple hormones including testosterone as well as bile for digestion. Cholesterol is produced in the liver and there are two different cholesterol molecules often referred to as “good” and “bad” cholesterol, but once again, this is not the case.
The reason they are labeled good and bad cholesterol is because the ratio of HDL (high density lipo-protein) to LDL (low density lipo-proteins) are imbalanced. Most people have more LDL in their blood than HDL, and the body needs a balance of both of these cholesterol molecules in order to do their job effectively. Remember, cholesterol helps produce vitamin d, hormones and bile. It also itself is comprised of lipids (fats) and protein.
The main difference between HDL and LDL is that high density (hdl) lipo-proteins contain a higher protein to fat ratio, whereas the LDL (low density) contain a higher fat to protein ratio. Basically, think of the HDL as the lean muscular (protein rich) molecule and think of LDL as the fat, obese cholesterol molecule. They both play different roles in the body and are needed but the imbalance in the HDL/LDL ratio is what causes health concerns, heart attack, strokes etc.
Watch this video to learn more about the roles of cholesterol in the body:
Now that you have a better understanding of HDL, LDL, their role in the human body and that the ratio needs to be balanced let’s dive into some advice to boost your HDL cholesterol (often known as good cholesterol) to do it’s job to keep the LDL (often known as bad cholesterol) in check, and not creating too much plaque in your arterial walls.
Before we get into how to lower bad cholesterol though we’re going to first briefly cover what foods you should avoid that will cause cholesterol imbalances to further. You’ll want to avoid and watch your trans fat intake. These are foods that contain hydrogenated vegetable oil (which is also often GMO) as well as shortening, margarine and other highly processed foods. Basically your goal should be to avoid any fast food, processed foods and fake foods, meaning foods that were created from chemicals or in highly processed ways that don’t even mimic a whole food from nature.
Think of it this way, the more chemicals, processing and packaged a food is the more likely it will be to cause cholesterol imbalances.
Healthy fats are not bad, in fact, healthy fats are very important for healthy cholesterol levels and cholesterol balance. Saturated fats are not the enemy when it come’s to cholesterol, it’s the poly-unsaturated fats that you need to be more concerned about.
7 Ways To Lower “Bad” Cholesterol & Boost Good Cholesterol
Avocados are rich in healthy fats that benefit healthy cholesterol levels. In one study eating avocado’s alone decreased both LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides 22 percent.
Eat Dark Chocolate:
Dark chocolate contains many nutrients that are beneficial for heart health. One study found that people who ate cacao had a 24% increase in HDL levels over 12 weeks. Remember, HDL works to balance LDL levels so boosting HDL also reduces LDL to a healthy ratio.
Eat Nuts & Seeds:
Certain nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are great sources of healthy fats and proteins that help to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol levels.
Eat More Beans:
Beans are a great source of soluble fiber which binds to cholesterol in bile salts and helps to promote their excretion with waste. Garbanzo, black, navy, red, white and pinto beans are great sources of soluble fiber.
Drink Green Tea:
Green tea is rich in an antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has shown the best results in lowering LDL levels by only 2%, but it’s also rich in catechins which are an extraordinary antioxidant beneficial for health and longevity in other ways.
Eat Red Grapefruit:
Eating one red grapefruit a day for a month can lower LDL cholesterol levels by up to 20% within just that time. One study found that it is because the liminoids and lycopene found in the pulp, but it’s also rich in pectin (a soluble fiber) known to reduce LDL as well.
Drink Organic Red Wine (or eat grapes):
Organic red wine or grapes are rich in a substance known as resveratrol which is a potent antioxidant known to lower blood levels of LDL cholesterol. Additionally resveratrol is also beneficial for protecting against coronary artery disease.
Tomatoes are also rich in the antioxidant lycopene (just as grapefruit) which is beneficial for heart and cardiovascular health. By consuming 25 milligrams of lycopene daily can reduce LDL levels by around 10%. Red Grapefruit, tomatoes, strawberries and watermelon are other source of lycopene. Lycopene is the pigment that makes these foods red, so other red fruits or vegetables may contain cholesterol balancing lycopene as well. Do your research!
Do your best to eat organic, avoid fake and processed foods. While researching online you may find that some health websites recommend margarine and soy to lower cholesterol. We do NOT advise this. Soy is structurally not a food for health and vitality and margarine is not a food, it’s a food like by-product substance. Eat close to nature, organic, whole foods and your cholesterol levels will balance themselves out naturally.