Cholesterol is a type of fat that circulates in the blood, and it’s an essential part of our diet. Without it, we couldn’t produce hormones or vitamin D, for example. Cholesterol also helps to insulate nerve fibers and maintain cell membranes. It gets a dirty rap, but cholesterol is vital for our health. However, when your levels are high, you’re at risk for several chronic and potentially life-threatening diseases.
If you have high cholesterol, keep reading to find out how adding CBD products to your routine may help lower your cholesterol levels naturally.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of lipid molecule produced by the liver and is necessary for the normal functioning of cells. It can also be introduced to your body by the foods you eat. Lipids are fats, and cholesterol is by far one of the most talked-about these days. There are two main types of cholesterol: HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
- HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol – Often referred to as the “good” cholesterol because it helps remove excess LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol from arteries, which can lead to heart disease.
- LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol – Often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol because it can build up in arteries and form plaque, leading to heart disease. When LDL particles are present in more significant quantities than HDL particles, our risk for coronary heart disease increases.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
Several factors can contribute to high cholesterol, including:
- Eating foods high in saturated and trans fats
- Not getting enough exercise
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a family history of high cholesterol
- Being over the age of 60
In some cases, these are things we can control through diet and lifestyle changes. However, in some cases, high cholesterol is caused by genetic predisposition or an underlying condition, such as:
- Kidney disease
- Cushing’s syndrome
What Is CBD?
CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid that is found in hemp. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that are produced naturally in these plants. CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids and is by far one of the most popular, thanks to its recent legalization under the 2018 Farm Bill and its plethora of uses as a supplement. In fact, CBD has become so popular in recent years that 14 percent of the American population reported using a CBD product at least once. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not produce a psychoactive effect.
CBD products are made by extracting cannabidiol from the hemp plant and then diluting it with a carrier oil, such as MCT oil or hemp seed oil, to make CBD tinctures. CBD can also be found in gummies, capsules, vape products and topicals.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is responsible for maintaining homeostasis or balance in the body. The ECS consists of a network of cannabinoid receptors located throughout the body and enzymes that synthesize and break down cannabinoids. CBD can interact with these receptors and activate them, influencing various physiological processes.
Does CBD Lower Cholesterol?
Research published by a group of 18 researchers at the University of Colorado in June 2020 indicated that CBD may help with lowering cholesterol levels. It does this by changing how cholesterol is used in cells and how it is stored in the human body.
The research found that CBD can affect cholesterol transport and storage, cellular energy sensors and oxidative stress responses. When it does so, in a dose-dependent manner, CBD also causes cells to be sensitive to cholesterol, which makes those cells die.
According to the published findings, the significance of this research is that CBD has the potential to become a new therapeutic target for treating high cholesterol and inflammatory disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. In addition, CBD may eventually be used in conjunction with statins (a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol) to provide a more holistic approach to managing cholesterol levels.
While this is exciting news, it’s important to note that more research is needed to determine exactly how CBD acts on the body to lower cholesterol.
Adding CBD to Your Routine
If you’re already taking prescription or over-the-counter medications to lower your cholesterol, it’s important to discuss adding CBD to your routine with your physician. Once you get the green light from your doctor, you can start taking CBD as a supplement. CBD products are widely available online and at natural food stores.
The most popular include CBD tinctures, which can be taken sublingually (under the tongue) or added to food or drinks. CBD capsules and gummies are also a convenient way to take CBD, especially if you’re on the go.
If you’re new to CBD, start with a low dose and increase gradually as needed. It may take some time to find the right amount for you.
While adding CBD to your routine may help lower your cholesterol, it’s important to remember that it’s just one piece of the puzzle. To get the most benefit, make sure to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
Other Ways to Reduce Cholesterol Naturally
CBD is not the only way to help lower cholesterol or improve your heart health. This is especially true if you already have high cholesterol, which requires additional precautions and lifestyle changes to prevent further damage.
One of the easiest ways to monitor your cholesterol levels naturally is by keeping track of your waist circumference. If it becomes larger over time, it may be a sign that you’re eating too much cholesterol and your heart cannot metabolize it properly. It could also indicate that you’re not getting enough physical activity.
Other natural ways to reduce cholesterol include:
- Eating whole foods like vegetables, fruits and lean meats instead of processed foods
- Avoiding foods high in saturated and trans fats
- Increasing your intake of soluble fiber
- Exercising regularly
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Managing stress levels
At the end of the day, the best way to reduce your cholesterol is by making minor changes to your lifestyle that you can stick to over time. Adding CBD to the mix may be one of those changes. Still, it’s essential to consider all aspects of your health when making lifestyle changes.