Atherosclerosis causes fatty deposits called plaque form in your arteries. Plaque interferes with blood flow, which raises your risk for heart disease and stroke. Known causes of plaque buildup include high blood levels of low-density lipoprotein, also called LDL, triglycerides, another form of unhealthy fat, and high blood pressure. Several herbal remedies or spices may help reduce the amount of plaque in your arteries and lower your risk for serious disease. Discuss these remedies with your doctor to determine what is appropriate for you. -TUMERIC Turmeric is a traditional Indian spice that also has medicinal qualities and may help reduce arterial plaque. Research suggests that it inhibits platelets from forming clots, part of the process that helps enlarge plaque deposits. It may also lower blood cholesterol, especially keeping LDL within a healthy range. -GINGER Ginger is a common spice that also has a long history in traditional medicine as a treatment for many ailments. It contains several compounds called gingerols and shogaols, which have biological activity and may be responsible for its health benefits. Ginger may help prevent plaque buildup or lessen existing plaque by lowering total cholesterol and blocking oxidation of LDL, one of the steps in plaque formation. -GARLIC Garlic has a long history as part of traditional medicine that dates as far back as ancient Egyptian times. Among its benefits, garlic tends to raise blood levels of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, while reducing LDL. It also reduces levels of two other compounds, called homocysteine and C-reactive protein, that are associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease. Garlic is also an antioxidant and it may help reduce blood pressure, another factor that contributes to plaque formation in your arteries.
Thanks to powerful cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, driving down low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, has been the primary approach to improving cholesterol levels. But there’s more to the story of cholesterol and cardiovascular risk than LDL alone. Another key player is high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol. Higher levels of HDL are associated with lower cardiovascular risk. The good news about this good cholesterol is that simple lifestyle changes can help boost HDL.
HDL removes LDL from artery walls and ferries it to the liver for processing or removal. HDL also fights potentially dangerous inflammation and clot formation. According to a recent review of research on HDL, there’s some evidence that increasing HDL can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke—even without changes in LDL.
Here are some tips to boost your good cholesterol. Most of these strategies also improve health in other ways. 1-Get aerobic exercise. Moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise can boost HDL by 5% to 10%. Aim for five 30-minute sessions per week. 2-Lose weight if you need to. If you’re overweight or obese, you can boost your HDL level by about 1 mg/dL for every seven pounds lost, although any amount of weight loss will help. 3-If you smoke, quit. HDL levels rise by as much as 15% to 20% after you quit. 4-Eat a healthy diet. Avoid trans fats, which increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol. Avoid highly refined carbohydrates, such as white-flour products. 5-Consider medications. Niacin, available over the counter, is the most effective HDL-raising medication available. Niacin can be strong medicine — work with your clinician if you want to try it.
With every one percent reduction of total blood cholesterol, there is about a two percent reduction in the risk of heart attack. Getting your total cholesterol down and your HDL, or good cholesterol, up is good medicine. One way to control your cholesterol is by eating the right fats. Eat foods that are low in saturated fats, that contain mostly monounsaturated fats, and that are high in essential fatty acids. This means eating fats from seafood and plant sources. Minimize foods of animal origin, which are high in saturated fats. Keep your saturated fats to less than ten percent (better is seven percent) of your total daily calories. Get used to checking the package label for grams of saturated fat per serving. Avoid “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils and shortenings. New insights into the fatty food/heart disease correlation reveal that the amount of saturated fats and hydrogenated fats in a food may actually do more harm to the fats in your blood than the cholesterol in the food. The trans fatty acids in hydrogenated fats do all kinds of bad things to blood fats, such as: increase LDL (bad) cholesterol, decrease HDL (good) cholesterol, increase triglycerides, and increase lipoprotein A – the blood fat that contributes to plaques in the arteries. Look for labels that claim “contains no saturated fats” or “contains no hydrogenated oils.” Eat more fish that contain omega 3 fatty acids (coldwater fish: seabass, salmon and albacore tuna), which help lower blood fat levels and reduce the risk of blood clots, which can clog arteries and cause strokes and heart attacks. Replacing saturated fats in your diet with unsaturated ones (for example, vegetable and fish oils) can reduce blood LDL levels. Yet, a diet that is too high in polyunsaturated fat (more than 10 percent of daily calories) can suppress production of HDL. Choose monounsaturated fats instead, such as olive oil, canola oil, and nut oils. These monounsaturated fats do not lower HDL levels.
Coconut oil is one of the richest sources of saturated fat you can find, with around 90% of calories as saturated fat. But is very different from most other cooking oils and contains a unique composition of fatty acids.
The fatty acids are about 90% saturated. This makes coconut oil highly resistant to oxidation at high heats. For this reason, it is the perfect oil for high-heat cooking methods like frying.
Additionally, coconut oil consists almost entirely of Medium Chain Triglycerides.
These fatty acids go straight from the digestive tract to the liver, where they are likely to be turned into ketone bodies and provide a quick source of energy.
Epileptic patients on ketogenic diets often use these fats to induce ketosis while allowing for a little bit of carbs in the diet.
Coconut oil is rich in saturated medium chain fatty acids. They are resistant to high heat and can easily turn into ketone bodies in the liver. The virgin coconut oil significantly reduced Total and LDL cholesterol, oxidized LDL, triglycerides and increased HDL (the good) cholesterol.
You may have already heard that green tea is good for your heart, but did you know that it also lowers your cholesterol levels and decreases your risk of disability as you age?
The cholesterol finding comes from an analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials involving a total of 1,136 participants and was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011. The review was conducted by researchers from the Key Laboratory for Clinical Cardiovascular Genetics, the Sino-German Laboratory for Molecular Medicine, the Cardiovascular Institute, FuWai Hospital and Peking Union Medical College.
In all 14 studies, participants were divided into a placebo group and a group that drank either green tea or a green tea extract for between three weeks and three months. Overall, the researchers found that higher levels of green tea (or extract) consumption were associated with significantly lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. No change was seen in the levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Green tea is high in antioxidants, which protect cells from the damage and inflammation that lead to many chronic diseases, including heart disease. One of the antioxidant families found in green tea, known as the catechins, appears to decrease the gut’s absorption of cholesterol.
Why not lower your bad cholesterol by eating fiber rich foods? Cholesterol is found in body tissues’ cell membranes, and the blood carries this sterol through your body. Cholesterol is a combination of steroid and alcohol, and is also known as a plaque that affects your blood vessels. Fiber rich foods keep this plaque from building up to dangerous levels. If cholesterol builds up in the walls of your arteries, it can result in sickness and death. Eating fiber rich foods can stop this build-up from occurring.
Foods that lower bad cholesterol can also help in proper bowel functions, lowering your chances of bowel or colon cancer. Fiber rich foods help your body to fight against dangerous plaque deposits. These include wheat bran, barley and oat bran. You can eat these fiber rich foods for breakfast, in cereal form, or sprinkle them into other food. You can add barley to soup, and pears and apples are enjoyable as a healthy snack. Legumes and beans are fiber rich foods that are low in fat and high in helpful fiber. They contain lecithin as well, and this nutrient can lower your cholesterol. Avocados contain monounsaturated fats that lower bad cholesterol, and are also fiber rich foods. Raw carrots have pectin, which also helps in reducing the levels of bad cholesterol in your body. Some fruits contain pectin too, including berries, citrus fruits and apples. Including these healthy foods in your diet will help in keeping your heart healthy.