When it comes to cholesterol, it’s important to keep in mind that there are two types: HDL, which is known as ‘good’ cholesterol, and LDL, or ‘bad’ cholesterol. According to Cleveland Clinic scientists, lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol (the type that clogs arteries) can cut your risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent — and if your LDLs have crept up past the healthy 100 milligrams per deciliter level, you might think your only option is side effect–laden statins. Not so! Instead, consider some natural cures for lowering cholesterol — these strategies tame high LDLs as effectively as an Rx, and are easy to incorporate into your daily life.
Try a Citrus Extract
Taking 1,000 milligrams of bergamot (a citrus extract) daily could trim 59 points off your LDLs in as little as 30 days. That’s a better result than many prescription meds offer, Italian investigators report. Thanks goes to naringin and neohesperidin, two compounds that slow cholesterol absorption in the intestines and speed its breakdown in the liver, plus help your body burn these blood fats for fuel. One to try: Naomi Italian Citrus Bergamot ($31.49, Amazon)
You can trim 12 points off your LDL level this month by soaking up 30 minutes of sun daily, Spanish scientists say. The vitamin D-3 that skin produces when exposed to UV light prompts your liver to convert LDLs into healthy, artery-clearing HDL cholesterol.
Toss a Beanbag
Enjoying a backyard game of cornhole, a breezy fall stroll around the block, or chasing after your grandkids at the park tamps down too-high LDLs. That’s the word from Ohio University researchers, who say just moving your muscles for 30 minutes daily burns off these troublesome blood fats, lowering your LDL levels by 15 percent.
Enjoy a Snack Break
Quash between-meal hunger pangs with a handful of nuts or seeds daily, and you’ll cut LDLs by up to 33 percent, Yale research suggests. David Katz, M.D., author of Disease-Proof, says nuts and seeds are rich in healthy plant fats that slow down the liver enzymes that make LDLs.
Sip Rooibos Tea
Sipping three tall glasses of rooibos tea daily can cut your LDL by 13 points in one month, a study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found. Study co-author Jeanine Marnewick, Ph.D., says rooibos’ polyphenols help muscles burn excess blood sugar for fuel before it’s converted into LDLs.
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This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.