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Hypercholesterolemia: Causes, Prevention and Natural Remedies

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Hypercholesterolemia is the medical term for elevated levels of cholesterol in the body; cholesterol is a type of lipid found in every cell the body.

The body manufactures cholesterol and we can also get it from the foods we eat; the cells and tissues of the body make use of cholesterol for various functions.

Functions of cholesterol in the body:

Even though it is implicated in many chronic diseases and viewed with a negative eye; cholesterol plays important roles in the body. It helps in the day to day functions of the body and when it is lacking; a lot of health problems arise.

Cholesterol helps in the production of hormones; the testes, ovaries and adrenal glands store cholesterol and they are later converted to steroid hormones. Steroid hormones play critical roles in the body; they boost mental performance, digestion, bone health, sex and they help one maintain a healthy weight.

Cholesterol is a structural component of body cells and it serves as a protective barrier for cells; without this, the structure of cells will be affected. This can affect the ability of the body to produce energy and metabolize it. It can also affect digestion and food intake.

Cholesterol helps digestion of foods; it is used by the liver to create bile, this bile helps in digestion of fats and oils. Without bile; the body cant digest fats and when this happens, undigested fats accumulate in the bloodstream, this can cause health complications like blocked arteries, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

These are the functions of cholesterol in the body; healthy levels of cholesterol are needed for these but when cholesterol becomes excess in the body, it builds up and accumulate in the arteries and this leads to health problems.

A healthy person should have less than 200 mg/dl of total cholesterol in the body; the borderline is 200 to 239 mg/dl, from 240 mg/dl and above is dangerous. A blood test can be carried out to know one’s level of cholesterol.

Unfortunately, hypercholesterolemia gives no sign or symptom; so it is difficult to diagnose except when confirmed by a blood test. It is advisable for people to check their cholesterol every 4 to 6 years because it starts to go up at age 20.

Men are at greater risk of hypercholesterolemia than women but a woman’s risk is higher than that of a man after menopause.

Types of cholesterol:

There are good and bad cholesterol in the body; cholesterol is transported through the blood with the help of proteins. This combination (protein + cholesterol) is known as a lipoprotein.

We have three types of cholesterol and they are high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (VLDL).

LDL and VLDL are bad cholesterol; they transport cholesterol to the whole body; these are the ones that build up in the blood vessels thereby making them narrow and hard. High levels of these are bad for the health and they should be reduced.

HDL is the good cholesterol; they pick cholesterol from other parts of the body and take them back to the liver where they are produced.  Elevated levels of HDL are needed to remove cholesterol (LDL, and VLDL) from the body.

Risk factors or causes of hypercholesterolemia:

There are many things that cause elevated levels of cholesterol in the body; physical inactivity, aging, obesity, high-saturated fats like whole milk, cheese, and high-fat red meat raises cholesterol in the body.

If you smoke, try quitting because smoking raises the levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Genetics or family history is also a risk factor; and medical conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and liver problems can cause this.

Some medications like birth control pills, beta-blockers, diuretics and anti-depressants raise cholesterol levels as side effects. So it will be advisable to use natural remedies.

Health complications caused by excess cholesterol:

This condition causes a lot of complications in the body and it raises the risk for chronic diseases. Some of the health complications and chronic diseases caused by hypercholesterolemia are:

  • Narrowed or obstructed blood vessels
  • High blood pressure
  • TIA (Transient ischemic attack)
  • Heart disease
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Chest pain

Natural Remedies for Hypercholesterolemia:

Medically, high level of cholesterol is treated with statins; statin drugs include atorvastatin also known as Lipitor, lovastatin, fluvastatin, pravastatin, and others.

Studies reveal that these drugs bring down high levels of cholesterol than other drugs, but they have side effects which cause more harm than good.

There are many effective ways to reduce high levels of cholesterol naturally without side effects or health complications. Effective natural remedies for hypercholesterolemia are:

Coriander seeds:

These seeds can effectively lower the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides; they can even manage diabetes which is a risk factor for hypercholesterolemia.

Take coriander seeds tea twice daily; to make this tea, add a tablespoon of coriander seed powder to a cup of water and boil it, strain it and add honey, your tea is ready.

Honey:

Honey fights high levels of cholesterol due to its rich nutrient content; their rich content of antioxidant retains cholesterol in the blood and does not let it move out, it also prevents cholesterol from entering into the lining of the blood vessels.

Take a teaspoon of honey daily. You can add it to a cup of warm or lukewarm water and drink this solution at least once daily.

Onions:

Red onions are potent in reversing high levels of cholesterol; they elevate the levels of HDL while they bring down the levels of LDL.

They also lower the risk of chronic diseases caused by high levels of cholesterol. Mix a teaspoon each of onion juice and honey and take this mixture once daily.

Add to your meals onions, garlic, and ginger; this will help control your levels of cholesterol and other lipids; you can also consume on a regular basis, one finely chopped onion added to a cup of buttermilk, you can add ¼ teaspoon of chili pepper powder or cayenne pepper powder.

Garlic:

It has a rich content of sulfur which helps in keeping the levels of cholesterol in check. It balances cholesterol levels and prevents the buildup of plaques in the blood vessels. Take fresh cloves of garlic daily.

Indian gooseberry:

This is a natural hypolipidemic agent; it effectively reduces the concentrations of lipids in the serum without side effects.

Studies confirm that this fruit has atherogenic and hypolipidemic effects and anti-hyperlipidemic effects; take amla tea daily, it is best taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.

Add a teaspoon of Indian gooseberry powder to a glass of warm water to make your amla tea.

Turmeric:

This herb is effective against high levels of cholesterol; it decreases the levels of LDL cholesterol and increases the levels of HDL cholesterol. It also prevents blood clots and the accumulation of plaques in the arteries. Take turmeric tea daily.

Apple cider vinegar:

Can bring down high levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides; add a teaspoon of ACV in a glass of water and take this solution three times daily for at least one month.

Eggplant:

This vegetable has a rich amount of fiber and vital nutrients which keeps the body healthy and prevent high levels of cholesterol. They contain a compound called nasunin; this scavenges free radicals from the body, reduces the levels of bad cholesterol and relaxes the walls of the blood vessels.

It can be consumed in any form and you can also juice it; it should not be eaten by pregnant women, those with acidity problems and those who produce excess bile. People with kidney problems and gallbladder disease should not eat it because it has a high content of oxalates.

Oranges:

Oranges and fresh homemade orange juice can reduce high levels of cholesterol due to their rich content of flavonoids, folate and vitamin C.

It also increases the levels of good cholesterol, HDL. Take lots of organic ranges and fresh orange juice and do not add sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Fenugreek seeds:

They are nutrient dense and they contain steroidal saponins; these compounds reduce the ability of the body to absorb cholesterol from fat-rich foods. Take fenugreek tea daily.

Coconut oil:

Though a saturated fat; coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, this brings down high levels of bad cholesterol LDL and increases the levels of HDL, the good cholesterol. Take two tablespoons of coconut oil daily.

Beans:

Beans are rich in soluble fibers and this helps in reducing the levels of cholesterol in the body; these include all the types of beans and studies confirm that eating a cup of your favorite beans for a period of six weeks can reduce the levels of your total cholesterol by 10%.

Oatmeal:

Oatmeal is a great source of soluble fiber; soluble fiber helps in the reduction of cholesterol levels by reducing the absorption of cholesterol from foods and by also reducing their levels in the bloodstream.

Take a bowl of cooked oatmeal daily.

Avocados:

This fruit can reduce the levels of cholesterol; they have rich content of fiber and healthy fats like oleic acids, this lowers the levels of cholesterol and boosts the levels of HDL.

Fish oil:

Fish oil is a rich source of fatty acids; this helps to lower the levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and other lipids in the body. You can also get this from eating wild sardines, tuna, salmons, mackerel, trout, bluefish, and herring.

They prevent high levels of lipids and chronic diseases like heart disease. If you are a vegetarian, you can get your fatty acids from flaxseeds and sprouted chia seeds.

Olive oil:

Is packed full of healthy monounsaturated fats that can bring down high levels of LDL. Take 2 tablespoons of olive oil daily.

Red yeast rice:

This is a natural medicine that has been used in China for thousands of years; it is made by fermenting rice with red yeast.

It contains monacolins; this compound inhibits the formation and production of cholesterol thereby reducing the volume of cholesterol in the body.

You can get red yeast rice from natural health stores and pharmacies; endeavor to take it according to prescription because an excess of it in the body has not yet been studied.

You should also consult with your doctor before taking it especially if you are taking prescription or non-prescription drugs. It is advisable for pregnant women and breastfeeding mother and people with liver disease to take this supplement, so if you are in this category, please avoid this and choose from the other remedies.

Apples:

This fruit is rich in pectin; this lowers cholesterol and keeps the body healthy. A medium sized apple contains 4 grams of fiber; so take lots of apples to bring down high levels of cholesterol.

Nuts:

Nuts are healthy and they help the body to control the levels of cholesterol; this includes pecans, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashew nuts, and others.

They are rich in fiber, monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, proteins, plant sterols and other vital nutrients which help to lower the levels of lipids in the body.

Celery:

Has high content of antioxidants; they reduce the levels of LDL and prevent heart diseases. Take celery juice.

Other effective natural remedies for hypercholesterolemia are mustard greens, broccoli, barley, chocolate, red wine, spinach, tomatoes, beets, yogurts, chicory roots, licorice roots, green tea, hawthorn berry, rhubarb, artichoke, ginger, margarine, etc.

Prevention:

Healthy lifestyle and healthy nutrition can help prevent excess production of cholesterol and can reverse high levels of cholesterol in the body.

  • Reduce your intake of salt
  • Eats lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Lose weight and try to maintain a healthy weight
  • If you smoke, try and quit, it reduces the levels of HDL.
  • Exercise moderately on a daily base.
  • Don’t drink alcohol and if you must, do it in moderation.
  • Take less of foods high in cholesterol especially if you are above 20 years of age; these include shrimps, alcohol, fast foods and processed foods, microwaved popcorn, refined sugar and sugary foods, bacon and other processed meats, dairy and dairy products, canola oil and other processed vegetable oils, baked goods made with animal fats, refined grain products etc.

Sources;

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