Heart disease has long been one of the top causes of death in the United States and United Kingdom. While cancer has surpassed heart disease as cause of death in men, more women are dying from heart disease than from cancer.
What’s most heart-wrenching about this is most people aren’t even aware that they have heart disease or high cholesterol. Even worse – they don’t know that they could have prevented this serious disease in the first place.
High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms, so people are often affected without having a clue that they’re at huge risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol is a preventable precursor to heart disease. As you read below you’ll see that simple lifestyle changes can drastically decrease your risk.
One of my favorite ways to improve health and vitality is through juicing. I’ve taken up juicing recently as a habit and found it quite rewarding. I’d love to share with you the benefits of juicing to lower cholesterol.
What is Cholesterol?
According to The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute,“Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body.” Cholesterol is actually necessary, to some extent, in our bodies. It helps our cells make vitamin D and hormones and also aids digestion. The good news is that our bodies can make all the cholesterol we need. The bad news is a lot of the food we eat contains cholesterol as well.
Cholesterol travels through your blood via small vehicles called lipoproteins. These vehicles are made of lipids, or fat, on the inside and have proteins on the outside. You may have heard that there are two different types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. These are the two kinds of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol through your body.
LDL or low-density lipoprotein is often referred to in the media as “bad cholesterol.” When you have high LDL, it causes a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. HDL or high-density lipoprotein is known as the “good” cholesterol. HDL carries cholesterol from your body back to your liver to be removed as waste.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
In most cases, high cholesterol is caused by the poor food choices we all make on a daily basis. Foods high in cholesterol leave an overload of this fatty substance in our bodies. Luckily, HDL will carry as much cholesterol as it can out of your body, however if we ingest too much LDL, our body becomes overloaded. This results in blockages in our blood vessels, causing our heart and cardiovascular system to function poorly.
According to the Mayo Clinic, your risk of high cholesterol can be increased due to one or more of the following factors:
- Poor diet
- Large waist circumference
- Lack of exercise
- Genetic factor
When it comes to food, high cholesterol comes from saturated fats. Foods high in saturated fats cause an overload of cholesterol in our bodies and our bodies can’t sort it out.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol?
While there are cholesterol-lowering medications on the market, naturally lowering your cholesterol begins with healthy eating. As I mentioned, cholesterol is caused by a build-up of that LDL or “bad” cholesterol. So how do you eliminate the bad? You introduce the good!
Inactivity, excessive weight, poor diet, and smoking can all increase your risk of heart disease. So there’s your solution to high cholesterol. You have to ditch all those bad habits. Easier said than done? If you’re looking for more specific information, the Cleveland Clinic provides a wonderfully detailed list of ways you can lower your bad cholesterol levels starting today.
1. Increase Your Nutrient Intake
The Cleveland Clinic recommends eating a varied dietin order to get a wide range of nutrients into your daily diet. They suggest trying to eat at least, if not more than, five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. You can also consume at least 2 servings of nonfat or low-fat products like low-fat yogurt or low-fat milk.
2. Add Healthy Fats to Your Diet
The Cleveland Clinic also suggests swapping saturated and trans fats for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. A helpful tip to follow this rule is that saturated fat is normally solid at room temperature, like coconut oil. Unsaturated fat is liquid at room temperature and comes from plants, like olive or sunflower oil.
3. Incorporate Omega-3s Into Your Diet
The University of Maryland Medical Center states that “Clinical evidence suggests that EPA and DHA, the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil help reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure.”
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fishes like mackerel, salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines. You’ll also find it in walnuts and a variety of seeds (chia, hemp, flax). While omega-3 fatty acids do not directly affect LDL levels, they have shown a “reduced death rate from heart disease.”
4. Avoid Animal Products
While fat is highly integral to optimal body function, you have to be careful with which kind of fat you are ingesting. Too much saturated fat will result in high cholesterol. You’ll find large amounts of cholesterol in fatty cuts of meat, egg yolks, whole milk, cheese and lard.
According to the National Institute of Health, “Studies show that too much saturated fat in the diet leads to higher LDL levels. Populations that tend to eat more saturated fat have higher cholesterol levels and more heart disease than those with lower intakes.
Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet is a very effective way to lower LDL.” The Cleveland Clinic recommends just 200 mg of cholesterol per day. One egg yolk has approximately 212 mg, just to give you a reference.
Since I’m not a nutritionist or dietician, I can’t really tell you exactly how to manage your diet. What I can do is suggest an amazing way to lower your fat intake and increase your nutrient intake naturally and easily. The way I suggest to do this is by juicing!
Can Juicing Help You Lower Your Cholesterol?
Juicing has become popular in recent years for good reason. Juicing is an amazing way to get a boatload of nutrients into your body without having to think about it. It becomes increasingly difficult to think of new and innovative ways to eat my veggies and to be honest, sometimes I’m just tired of eating them!
That’s why I’ve recently developed a very serious relationship with my juicer. Shhh don’t tell my husband. If you’re new to juicing, I highly suggest borrowing one from a friend for a week or two. Juicing isn’t for everyone and I’d hate for you to invest in an expensive product when you aren’t certain you’ll use it. If you’ve already gotten that step out of the way, check out these juicers on Amazon.
For me, juicing for lower cholesterol is a no-brainer. You are avoiding fats, increasing nutrients and may even gain such an energy boost that you are motivated to exercise. Sounds like a win all around to me.
What are the Best Fruits and Vegetables to Juice for Lower Cholesterol?
Broccoli is an amazing vegetable that packs a boatload of vitamins and nutrients. According to LiveScience, broccoli contains no fat, is low in calories and salt and sits at around 31 calories per serving. Its high vitamin content makes it a great heart helper.
You’ll find vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin A, to name a few. Broccoli is also loaded with phytochemicals, antioxidants and a decent amount of protein for a non-starchy vegetable.
When it comes to lower cholesterol, one very beneficial aspect of broccoli is its fiber content. A nutritionist from the Fitness Institute of Texas explains that the “soluble fiber in the vegetable binds with the cholesterol in the blood. The binding makes the cholesterol easier to excrete, and consequently lessens cholesterol levels in the body.”
Cooking Light names apples as one of the top 8 cholesterol-lowering foods. They state, “Over the last few decades many reports suggest that polyphenols, antioxidant compounds found in apples and apple juice, may help inhibit the oxidation of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is what leads to plaque buildup in the arteries.”
Apples are an amazing source of soluble fiber and have similar abilities to oats when it comes to lowering cholesterol. You can read off a whole list of the nutritional benefits of apples in this post from World’s Healthiest Foods.
If you aren’t sure where to start, even just “an apple a day” is a good approach. Or try juicing a few apples for a delicious drink! I’ll share an apple juicing recipe later in this post.
The prestigious Harvard Health names grapes as one of the most important fruits when it comes to fighting high cholesterol. Like apples, this is mainly due to the fact that grapes contain a good amount of soluble fiber. Grapes, along with some other fruits and berries, contain pectin.
According to Dr. Weil, pectin is a soluble fiber that “can bind cholesterol in the gut, preventing its absorption into the bloodstream.” Dr. Weil does note that pectin is not the ultimate solution to high cholesterol. Other actions like moderate exercise should be included in one’s journey to lower cholesterol.
Strawberries are an amazing superfruit that have a ton of benefits when it comes to lowering cholesterol. According to California Strawberries, these succulent berries rank number two among the top ten fruits in antioxidant capacity. On top of the antioxidant benefits, strawberries also proved heart health benefits.
Strawberries contain healthy heart essentials such as fiber and potassium. They are also naturally free of fat, sodium and cholesterol. One serving of strawberries contains about 50 calories so they won’t promote weight gain either. Maintaining a healthy weight is integral to heart health.
An amazing study was published in the journal, Metabolism. Participants who had elevated cholesterol levels and had been on a diet of beans, legumes, oats and okra were then asked to intake approximately three cups of strawberries per day for a month, while other participants ate additional oat bran bread.
Those who ate the strawberries were able to maintain their lower cholesterol levels and even saw reductions in LDL cholesterol, better than those who had eaten the additional bread.
Juicing to Lower Cholesterol Recipe #1: The Broccoli Boost
- 1 head of broccoli
- 2 cucumbers
- 2 carrots
- 2 oranges
Be sure to peel your oranges first, otherwise juice and enjoy!
Juicing to Lower Cholesterol Recipe #2: Strawberry-Apple Surprise
- 2 cups strawberries
- 2 red apples
Juice the strawberries and apples. Then move juice into a blender.
- 1 handful fresh spinach
- 1 tbsp flax seeds
Blend all ingredients and enjoy! I call this recipe “Strawberry Apple Surprise” because after you juice the strawberries and apples, you blend spinach and flax seeds into the juice. This gives your tasty juice drink an added fiber, vitamin and antioxidant kick.
The Last Word on Juicing to Lower Cholesterol
As you can see, there are some truly amazing fruits and veg out there that can help lower your cholesterol. Keep in mind, lowering your cholesterol can take a variety of approaches such as:
- Exercising regularly
- Increasing your nutrient intake through consumption of fruits and vegetables
- Adding healthy fats to your diet
- Incorporating Omega-3s
- Avoiding animal fats
This post focused on a great way to incorporate more nutrients into your diet through juicing. Juicing can provide a quick easy way to ingest a boatload of vitamins, antioxidants and cholesterol-lowering goodness.
Have you tried juicing yourself? I’d love to hear about your experience juicing and if it was helpful in your journey to lower your cholesterol.