Cholesterol has gotten a bad name because of the large role it plays in the high incidence of heart disease and stroke, but that isn’t the entire story. The body needs cholesterol to function. It is used in the production of cell membranes and steroid hormones, which include the sex hormones and hormones needed to keep blood sugar and minerals in balance. Our bodies manufacture cholesterol, but we also get it from the foods we eat. The cholesterol we don’t want to encourage comes from saturated fats and from animal sources. The food we get from plant sources help in controlling cholesterol.
There are two types of cholesterol present in the body. HDL, high-density lipoprotein, is the good cholesterol. Think of it as “healthy” cholesterol. It transports essential fatty acids through the circulatory system and actually helps to remove the “lousy”, LDL, low-density lipoprotein, cholesterol, from the blood stream.
The dangers of heart disease and stroke increase when total levels of cholesterol are so high that the body is unable to remove it efficiently and arteries become blocked. This prevents the blood from circulating freely and can lead to heart problems and stroke.
There are many foods, supplements and herbs that can help raise levels of HDL and lower the amount of LDL in the blood stream. Three effective herbs that help to regulate cholesterol are Fenugreek, butcher’s broom and cinnamon.
Fenugreek: This versatile herb is high in the mucilaginous fiber which is not only a cholesterol fighter, but is also valuable in keeping blood glucose levels even which may aid in the control of diabetes.
Fenugreek has traditionally been used in Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory and in childbirth. Don’t take while pregnant though. You don’t want to encourage uterine contractions before time.
Butchers Broom: This artery and capillary strengthener was used as far back as ancient Greece as a healing tonic. It has mildly diuretic properties and is used to relieve edema and constipation. Because of all its circulatory system benefits, it can be a very valuable supplement if you have high cholesterol levels.
Cinnamon: A study in the medical journal “Diabetes Care” showed a 20% drop in LDL, bad cholesterol. It is an anti-inflammatory and helps in the control of blood sugar levels.
Diet plays an important part in the fight against LDL cholesterol and in promoting HDL cholesterol. Eating lots of vegetables and fruits, beans and whole grains provide necessary fiber to “flush” out the arteries. Nuts, avocados and fish provide heart healthy fats to keep vein and arteries flexible. Garlic, green tea, dark chocolate and fish oil supplements are inflammation fighters that are good for the entire body. Foods to eat in moderation include lean meats and low fat dairy.
If all else fails and the doctor is recommending a statin drug, you may want to, first, try red yeast rice. This is such a potent cholesterol fighter that it is even used in the manufacturing of many prescription statins.
Remember that “natural” doesn’t always mean that a supplement or herb is completely safe for you. Your doctor should always know what you are taking. Many natural substances may react harmfully with prescription medications. Never abruptly stop prescribed medication without your doctor’s knowledge and consent.
Many tools to control harmful cholesterol and to help alleviate many chronic diseases are available to you. Eating right, exercising often and keeping weight under control is the best way to a healthy life.