A Short History Lesson
There was a study that came out in the 1960's touting that eating fat makes you fat and raises cholesterol. This started the low-fat eating trend. Come to find out, that study was funded by the sugar companies in order to get people away from eating fat, thus eating more sugar!
When the study was repeated, it showed that eating saturated fat does increase LDL ('lousy' cholesterol) but it also increases HDL ('happy' cholesterol), so your overall risk of getting heart disease remains unchanged.
But get this: when you eat refined sugar instead of saturated fat, studies show increased triglycerides, increased small LDL particles, and lower HDL cholesterol. So your risk of heart disease goes up.
We're debunking the fat makes you fat here, people! Sugar is true culprit.
I will say, studies across the board show that eating polyunsaturated fats - the kind of fat in olive oil, salmon, nuts & seeds - is the most heart-healthy type of fat to eat. It is better than sugar and better than saturated fats - the kind of fat in butter, red meat, and cheese.
So what if you have high cholesterol and you want to lower it naturally? You can!
#1. Decrease sugar consumption - cut out a few desserts and alcoholic beverages to naturally decrease Triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
Choose fresh fruits instead of dessert. Fill half a glass of wine and fill the rest with bubbly water. Get creative and cut sugars as best you can.
You can also add more polyunsaturated fats to your meals to help curb your sugar cravings while taking good care of your heart.
#2. Eat more fiber - The American Heart Association recommends 25-30 g of fiber per day. This is a minimum in my book! If you can, strive for 50g, you're at rock star status. The average American eats 15g of fiber per day.
Switch all of your grains to whole grains, like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, for examples. Fibrous vegetables, like kale, broccoli, and other leafy greens are great sources of fiber as well.
One of the best fiber-filled breakfasts is 1/2 cup of oat bran with 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed. This breakfast alone provides 11g of fiber! For easy add ons, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed or whole chia seed into your smoothie or salad.
Fiber literally binds excess cholesterol and poops it out. Increase fiber for better digestion, lowered cholesterol, and regulated hormones.
#3. Cardio Exercise - Lastly, we all know exercise is good for us, and I'm a fan of any movement the feels fun and enjoyable. The type of exercise doesn't so much matter as the intensity. To lower cholesterol, research shows to get 20 minutes of high intensity cardio 3 times per week.
The goal is to hit 80% of your max heart rate. Here's how to calculate 80% of your max heart rate: (220 - your age) x 0.8
As always, it's vitally important to consult with your physician before making diet and lifestyle changes. There are aspects of your health that this blog post certainly doesn't cover, so ask your doctor first! Be well and stay healthy!
For all my researchers out there, here are some of the articles referenced from above!
Saturated Fats & Heart Disease
Download PDF • 158KB