When many individuals are initially diagnosed by their medical physician as having high levels of cholesterol, they immediately look to the various large pharmaceutical manufacturers for assistance in addressing their condition.
After all, many prescription medications are indeed capable of lowering cholesterol levels, especially when combined with healthy lifestyle changes and the careful monitoring from their medical professional.
However, even following these proposed medical guidelines and procedures can still result in suffering from a large number of side effects that can include, but are not limited to, cramps, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, constipation and muscle soreness, weakness and pain.
But what if you are wanting to lower your cholesterol level while, at the same time, avoid the harmful side effects? Fortunately, there are ways to lower cholesterol naturally, and a new study is showing that the more natural approaches may be just as effective as costly prescription medications.
Who Typically Takes Cholesterol-Lowering Medication?
It’s estimated that roughly 25% of individuals age 45 and over take statins, defined as drugs that:
Decrease LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, the bad kind;
Slightly increase HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, the good kind;
Decrease triglycerides, fats in the bloodstream known to increase heart disease risk.
In addition to the aforementioned side effects, some evidence suggests that statins can also diminish your energy levels and reduce sexual pleasure. Regardless of these woes, sales figures for statins exceeded $13 billion in 2008, certainly a testament to their popularity among doctors and patients alike.
A Study on How to Lower Cholesterol Naturally
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) involved 345 individuals, all of whom had high cholesterol at the beginning of observations. The participants were broken up into two groups, with each group eating a different low-cholesterol, vegetarian diet over the course of six months.
The first group was instructed to lower their intake of saturated fat while increasing their intake of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy. The second group was given more specific instructions, which included the dietary incorporation of certain foods known to lower cholesterol naturally such as beans, peas, oats, nuts and soy proteins.
The results? The cholesterol reduction experienced by the second group was three times larger than the reduction experienced by the first. Even better, both groups experienced cholesterol reductions at least as significant as would be possible with statins.
It certainly stands to reason that a change in diet would lead to a reduction in cholesterol levels, since poor diet is one of the primary contributors to high cholesterol in the first place.
Ideal Foods to Lower Cholesterol Naturally
So, exactly what did the study participants consume to lower cholesterol naturally?
For breakfast, the first group ate bran flakes and raisins cereal, while the second group consumed oat-bran cereal with jam and strawberries. Pairing either option with soy milk should help, as soy proteins are believed to lower cholesterol.
For lunch, the second group continued the oat-bran trend by downing oat-bran bread with cucumber, tomato, lettuce and tofu slices, along with a serving of black bean soup. As with soy milk, tofu delivers soy proteins. In this meal, tofu can be replaced with avocado so long as more soy milk is had on the side.
For dinner, the second group ate pearled barley, a tofu “omelet” and ratatouille. Barley can be rather bland by itself, so the researchers suggested adding steamed vegetables and a yogurt-based dressing.
For snacks, the dieters ate things like peaches, apricots, nectarines, grapes, cantaloupe, almonds, more soy milk and basically anything with plenty of fiber.
The Bottom Line
Although cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals are definitely effective for many individuals, they come with a number of potential side effects related to sexual functioning, digestion and the muscles. Fortunately, making some simple dietary changes can lower your cholesterol naturally, allowing you to avoid side effects and the costly bills that come with prescription pills while improving your overall state of health.