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The Causes of High Cholesterol and Natural Treatments

If you’ve been told by a doctor that your cholesterol levels are high, you’re certainly not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 102 million adults in America have high cholesterol too, and over 35 million of these people have a high enough level (240 mg/dL) to put them at a heightened risk of heart disease. High cholesterol is often asymptomatic, so you don’t even know you have it until you take a cholesterol test. But if these levels stay elevated and undetected for a while, heart attack and stroke could be right around the corner.

Here are some of the most common causes of high cholesterol and natural ways to reduce your cholesterol levels for a healthy heart.

Photo credit: The Heart Truth via Flickr

Genetic Influences

Some people can be living the healthiest lifestyles possible and still have high cholesterol levels when they take a cholesterol test. This is because there is a genetic component to bodily cholesterol levels, called familial hypercholesterolemia. If your mother and/or father had a history of high cholesterol or heart disease, it is a good idea to have your levels checked more than the standard recommendation of once every five years for adults.

Lifestyle Influences

But more commonly, high cholesterol is the result of lifestyle choices that people make on a daily basis. This includes eating unhealthy foods, not exercising, smoking tobacco products, and being overweight. Certain foods, especially meat and dairy products, contain high amounts of cholesterol. Meanwhile, baked goods, such as muffins and cakes, are also high in dietary cholesterol. Chips and other pre-packaged snacks are often packed with cholesterol too and drive your bodily levels up.

Photo credit: The Blue Diamond Gallery

How to Reduce High Cholesterol Naturally

Certain nutrients can help to offset the occasionally bad diet choice and work to balance out cholesterol levels in the body. For example, vitamin B3, also known as niacin, has shown in studies to reduce bad LDL cholesterol levels and raise the good HDL cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber is also effective in balancing out bodily cholesterol levels and can be consumed from food by eating berries, carrots, broccoli, oats, and legumes. Meanwhile, garlic is a good food to eat if you’re looking for healthy cholesterol levels, as well as red yeast rice, artichoke leaf extract, holy basil, and fenugreek seeds. Herbal remedies that are sometimes used for high cholesterol include astragalus, hawthorn, and flaxseed.

Overall, you want your total cholesterol level to be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter, your LCL cholesterol level less than 100 milligrams per deciliter, and your HDL cholesterol at 50 milligrams per deciliter or higher. What you eat has a profound impact on how your levels will read out in a test and how those numbers will translate to our heart disease risk. There are plenty of cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs on the market today, but most come with side effects, especially constipation, diarrhea, and dizziness. Talk with your doctor about natural remedies you’ve tried and what other ones are available before going directly to a bottle of questionable pills.

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