Cardiovascular Health

Managing Cholesterol Levels

By NATURA Magazine.

Ayurvedic practice involves a kapha-pacifying routine, which includes daily exercise, sufficient sleep and regular meals to metabolise fat, create healthy cholesterol and improve circulation. Yoga asanas, surya namaskara (sun salutations), and pranayama (breathing exercises) are part of this daily routine to aid proper breathing for good digestion. Meditation is one key element to lower cholesterol as it reduces stress and improves mental clarity, making it easier to follow a healthy diet and make healthy lifestyle choices the rest of the day.

TCM calls for a comprehensive regime with herbs and acupuncture to treat the spleen and liver once a diagnosis has established the body constitution and the root of the problem. Physician Chew advises, “Acupuncture is accompanied by consumption of herbs such as hawthorn fruit, which lowers blood lipids and treats certain cardiovascular diseases, while red yeast rice—which contains natural statins—invigorates the body, aids in digestion and revitalises the blood, lowering LDL cholesterol. Cassia seeds are known to promote bowel movements, inhibit hyperlipidemic formation and reduce weight gain from nutritive obesity. Coix seeds are recommended to improve digestion and treat hypolipidemia, and finger citron fruit treats poor digestion, lack of appetite and lowers blood cholesterol.”

Western Medicine recommends either lifestyle modification or a combination of lifestyle modification and medication to lower cholesterol levels, depending on the presence of other risk factors for heart disease. An initial treatment would consist of lifestyle modification, including medical nutrition therapy to obtain a healthier diet, and increasing physical activity through regular exercise. When lifestyle modification fails, pharmacologic therapy needs to be considered with first-line medication to lower LDL-cholesterol, such as the use of statins.

Managing Cholesterol Levels

In Ayurveda, it is recommended to:

Eat more: canola oil, olive oil, nuts, corn sunflower oil; high-fibre whole grains such as barley and quinoa
Eat less: doughnuts, cakes, pies and cookies; sweet, sour and salty food
Do more: exercise, meditation, yoga, consumption of cooked and warm food
Do less: overeating, late nights

In TCM, it is recommended to:

Eat more: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good quality fats
Eat less: alcohol, meat and dairy products
Do more: sleep, exercise
Do less: late nights, smoking

In Western medicine, it is recommended to:

Eat more: high-fibre foods
Eat less: fatty meat, organs meats, eggs, dairy products, shrimp, cuttlefish, fried foods, sugary drinks
Do more: regular exercise of moderate intensity
Do less: smoking


Photo courtesy of Thinkstock. This article first appeared in NATURA magazine issue No.4. Find NATURA at Eu Yan Sang retail outlets, newsstands and major bookstores in Singapore.