It is estimated that between 70 and 80% of cardiovascular diseases could be prevented. The early identification and control of risk factors such as cholesterol are some of the first steps to take. A well-balanced diet, physical exercise and the help of appropriate supplements are essential.

Despite its bad reputation, cholesterol is indispensable for life. It takes part in the formation of biliary acids, necessary for fat digestion. Thanks to it, sex hormones, cortisol or vitamin D are synthesized. Cholesterol is also a fundamental component of the membranes that recover cells, regulating their fluidity, among other things.

Cholesterol comes from two sources. One part of the total cholesterol we need is produced by our own body in almost all the tissues, but mainly in the liver. The other part is taken from food, especially from animal origin food (cold meats, entrails, eggs, fatty cheese...)

It is distributed to the different systems of our body thanks to blood. As it is a fat, it is insoluble in water and cannot freely circulate through blood. In order to be transported, it needs to join a type of protein named lipoproteins, some of which are measured to indicate cholesterol levels.

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) transport cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body through arteries. They are known as “bad cholesterol”, since they may deposit cholesterol in the inner part of arteries, enhancing atherosclerosis development.
  • High-density lipoproteins (HDL) collect the excess cholesterol in tissues and take it to the liver for its elimination, avoiding it to be deposited in arteries. This is why they are known as “good cholesterol”.

It is highly important to maintain cholesterol levels in blood under 200 mg/dL, but also to keep low LDL rates and high HDL rates, as they are cardioprotective factors.

The main risks of excess cholesterol occur since it is deposited in the inner part of arteries, clogging them and causing cardiovascular disorders such as heart attack, thrombosis, stroke, etc. It may also cause liver and biliary disorders.

What are the suitable cholesterol levels?

Having unsuitable cholesterol levels doesn’t cause symptoms. The only way to check cholesterol levels is with a blood analysis that will indicate our situation. An annual control is recommended.

Total cholesterol below 200 mg/dl is considered normal. Levels between 200 and 240 mg/dl are considered hypercholesterolemia, but within normality, and over 240 means high cholesterol levels.

According to a survey carried out by the Spanish Heart Foundation, “7 out of 10 respondents hadn’t had a check of their cholesterol levels during the pandemic, for the fear of infection and lack of medical availability”. This is alarming information, since it is estimated that 1 out of every 2 adults in Spain has high cholesterol levels, which are associated with a great number of cardiovascular diseases.

The diet: the greatest ally

Age or genetics are factors that influence cholesterol and about which we can do nothing. However, there are some habits we can change to help maintain suitable cholesterol levels. In general, a healthy lifestyle, physical exercise and a well-balanced diet are aspects that are easily in our hands. Take note of the foods you need to include in your daily meals.

  • NUTS Have a handful of almonds or walnuts every day.
  • FOODS RICH IN OMEGA 3 Flax or chia seeds, spinach or alfalfa sprouts. 
  • OLIVE OIL Use it to cook and dress your dishes. 
  • FOODS RICH IN LYCOPENE These foods, including tomatoes or watermelon, are natural inhibitors of the enzyme that produces cholesterol.
  • FRUITS, VEGETABLES AND LEGUMES They must be the foundation of your weekly diet.

Supplements that help your heart

When diet isn’t enough to control cholesterol, we can take a natural aid, under professional supervision. Some substances have shown their beneficial action for our cardiovascular health.


It is the most remarkable active component in the plant Berberis aristata. It stands out for its hypocholesterolemic and hypoglycemic properties.


It is obtained from the fermentation of rice (Oryza sativa) with the yeast Monascus prupureus. It contains bioactive substances, such as monacolin K, which contributes to maintaining normal lipid levels in blood, reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol levels.


Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) inhibits cholesterol formation in the liver and eases its elimination with bile. 


Research has shown that sage (Salvia miltiorrhiza) is a plant that helps maintain a healthy vascular system. Among other actions, it reduces total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides. It also stands out for its antihypertensive and anti-atherosclerotic action.


This compound, rich in phospholipids and obtained from soy beans, helps reduce total cholesterol and LDL levels. Its content in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids enhances cholesterol solubility.


Omega-3 fatty acids help to have good cardiovascular health. Taking the right quantity of these nutrients can help reduce triglycerides, slow the accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque in arteries and slightly lower arterial blood pressure.


It contains alliin, among other components, which is a sulfur compound with hypocholesterolemic properties. Moreover, garlic (Allium sativum) has a hypotensive effect, that fluidizes blood and is cardio-protective.

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