It’s not too late to lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol — a fat that can stick to artery walls, raising your risk of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and cancer. When your LDLs drop, your immune system begins clearing
out any bits of plaque already in place, making them shrink or even disappear. Here’s how to do it.
Eat oatmeal & berries.
Eating one cup of oatmeal (even instant!) topped with 1/2 cup of berries daily could single-handedly cut your LDL level 10 percent in one month,
suggests a study in The Nutrition Journal. Oatmeal is rich in a unique fiber that blocks fat absorption in the intestines, says study coauthor Jenny Cai, Ph.D.
And the berries? They’re packed with plant compounds (anthocyanins) that help your liver rein in its LDL output, Yale researchers say.
Supplement with tocotrienols.
Supplementing with tocotrienols, natural forms of vitamin E, can reduce your LDL level as much as 25 percent, according to recent research done at East Tennessee State University. How? By switching off the liver enzymes that churn out the artery-clogging cholesterol.
One option: Jarrow Formula Toco-Sorb: $13.29, Amazon
Have yogurt for breakfast.
Eating a daily cup of yogurt with live cultures (like Stonyfield or Activia) can cut your LDLs 9 percent in two months, research shows. The fatty acids and probiotic bacteria in yogurt speed the breakdown of LDLs in the liver.
To boost the benefit, eat up to 1/2 cup of cheese daily, too. The calcium and protein in cheese help flush out dietary fats before they’re converted into LDLs.
Snack on raw veggies.
Eating three cups of veggies a day (at least one cup raw) can cut plaque buildup in your arteries 38 percent, reports the Journal of Nutrition. Vegetables contain nutrients that coat cholesterol, making it too slippery to stick to artery walls — and raw vegetables have more of those nutrients than cooked veggies do.
Drink rooibos tea.
Enjoying four to five cups of fruity rooibos tea daily can lower your LDLs 10 points in eight weeks, reports the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
Rooibos — which comes from a South African plant — is the only natural source of aspalathin, a compound that helps your liver keep blood fats balanced.
Reducing your stress level (by, say, listening to soothing music) cuts your risk of LDL woes 50 percent, say Utah State University researchers. Relaxing reduces your output of cortisol, a stress hormone that causes LDLs to creep up, even if you’re eating a healthy diet.
Weight training prods your liver to burn cholesterol for energy so effectively, 20 minutes of lifting light weights three times weekly can cut your LDLs 26 points in six months!
“With weight lifting, as long as you’re building muscle your cholesterol control will improve,” says UCLA Medical Center cardiologist Karol
Watson, M.D. Bonus: If you shed 10 pounds with the workouts, your LDLs will drop an extra 8 percent.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Aging.