Naturally Lower Your Cholesterol
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 70 million American adults struggle with high levels of low-density lipoprotein, known as LDL cholesterol. This is what is considered as “bad” cholesterol. The perils of continuous high levels of this particular kind of cholesterol is largely responsible for acquiring heart disease later in life, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.
What is cholesterol? Simply put: cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all the cells in your body. Its purpose is to help the body function by facilitating the production of hormones, fat-soluble vitamins, and bile acids to aid in the digestion of food.
There are two kinds of cholesterol: high-density lipoproteins, or HDL cholesterol, which is referred to as “good” cholesterol; then there is the aforementioned low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol transports cholesterol to your liver so an excess of it does not build up within the body, while LDL cholesterol is responsible for the formation of plaques on arterial walls in other regions of the body.
Having high cholesterol (elevated LDL levels) is commonly treated using medications known as statins. Statins work to reduce cholesterol by inhibiting its production within the body, mostly by the liver. These medications are well-known for their uncomfortable side effects including muscle damage, increased liver enzymes (leading to liver damage), increased blood sugar (putting an individual at risk for Type 2 Diabetes), and neurological issues such as memory loss and confusion.
In the most extreme circumstances, pharmacological intervention is often necessary. The regimented use of medications is always a “benefits outweigh the risks” type of scenario. In recent times, however, the overprescribing of medications is rampant. It is often the first course of treatment for a minor health condition rather than the last.
Niacin, or nicotinic acid, is a B vitamin that is proven to be effective in lowering levels of cholesterol in the body. It is found in fish (such as tuna and salmon), leafy green vegetable, tomatoes, and enriched grains (such as oats). It has proven to increased levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), thereby eliminating more excess cholesterol from the blood and, subsequently, the body overall. It is not without side-effects (immediate-release niacin is known to cause intense flushing) but is often tolerated much better than statins.
Combining a niacin rich diet, or dietary supplementation, with a regular exercise and stress reduction techniques, has been shown to successfully reduce the levels of cholesterol within the body without the intervention of pharmaceuticals. This, however, was in individuals whose LDL levels were not profoundly elevated due to other underlying medical conditions.
As always, consult with your doctor before beginning any dietary supplement and about which lifestyle changes might best suit you to maximize your chances of success in achieving better overall health.