Supporting your heart health is incredibly important as you age, especially if you have a history of high cholesterol. Pharmaceutical medications like statins should definitely be considered in your treatment plan to help prevent heart attacks or stroke, but did you know there are other natural ways to help manage your cholesterol? We are going to dive into the following ways you can support your cholesterol naturally.
Optimize the Viscous Fiber in Your Diet!
If you have been trying to manage your cholesterol for some time, you know that making sure you get on average 25-30 g of fiber per day in your diet. But did you know that there is a specific type of fiber you should focus on when trying to reduce your cholesterol? It’s actually viscous fiber!
Viscous fiber is a type of soluble fiber, meaning that it’s only partially broken down by your body’s digestive tract. Viscous fiber will mix and bind with certain fats like cholesterol in your gut, preventing their absorption into your body and reducing your cholesterol levels in your bloodstream.
To best support your cholesterol, aim for 5-10 g of viscous fiber per day in your diet. There are many ways to do this with different types of foods, including but not limited to the ones listed below:
- Whole grains e.g. barley brown rice, oatmeal, oat bran, quinoa
- Plant protein foods e.g. back-eyed peas, black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, navy beans, soy beans, split peas
- Vegetables e.g. broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, green beans
- Starchy vegetables e.g. sweet or white potato, winter squash, green peas
- Foods with healthy fats e.g. avocado, whole chia seeds, ground flax seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, walnuts
- Fruits e.g. apple, apricots, banana, blackberries, figs, orange, peach, pear, plums, dried prunes, raspberries, strawberries
When in Doubt, Supplement!
Did you know that there are evidence based supplements that can act as adjunct support for helping manage your cholesterol? This article will look at Psyllium Husk, Coenzyme Q10, and Artichoke.
Psyllium Husk: This is an inexpensive supplement that you can easily find at your local health food store or pharmacy. Psyllium husk is a bulk-forming laxative that helps you poop! In its powder form, you can get about 5-6 grams of fiber in a heaping tablespoon. This is a great way to top up you fiber to make sure you meet your daily intake per day, and works the same way that fiber from foods does to help lower your cholesterol.
Coenzyme Q10: This is an antioxidant supplement that is often given to those with high cholesterol who are also on a statin as it helps reduce the common side effect of legs cramps in patients. Some research also indicates that Coenzyme Q10 is useful for helping lower your LDL and Total Cholesterol levels.
Artichoke: Artichoke, or Cynara cardunculus, is a plant native to the Mediterranean area. Although this plant is commonly consumed as a food, its extracts have also been shown to benefit heart health, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Test, Don’t Guess, for High Cholesterol in Your Family!
If you are getting lab work done with your medical doctor and if you have high cholesterol that runs in your family, make sure you ask if you have been tested for Familial Hypercholesterolemia using Lipoprotein (a).
Lipoprotein (a), or Lp(a), is a blood biomarker that when elevated can indicate you are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease at a younger age (i.e. less than 55 years of age for men, less than 65 years of age for women).
This is a once-in-a-lifetime test that you should make sure to get done with a medical doctor. If it comes back high or elevated, its a positive result and other first-degree family members should get tested as well to help prevent cardiovascular disease.
We hope you enjoyed learning about how to support your cholesterol and heart health naturally. If you want to learn more about how to optimize your diet to support your heart health naturally, we’d love to work with you!
Book an appointment here with Dr. Liz Dalglish, ND, who focuses part of her practice on cardiovascular care, healthy aging, perimenopause, Parkinson’s care and vestibular conditions like Ménière’s disease and vestibular migraines.