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Here are some of the effective ways by which you can reduce your cholesterol naturally: 1. Eat heart-healthy foods Start following a heart-healthy diet. There are so many …

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To control or lower your non-HDL cholesterol level, do the following: · Eat heart-healthy foods like dash diet · Exercise more often · Reduce the intake of animal fats · If you …

10 Natural Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

23-11-2021 · Cholesterol has many important functions. This article reviews 10 natural ways to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

23-11-2021

Cholesterol is made in your liver and has many important functions. For example, it helps keep the walls of your cells flexible and is needed to make several hormones.

However, like anything in the body, too much cholesterol (or cholesterol in the wrong places) creates concerns.

Like fat, cholesterol does not dissolve in water. Instead, to move around the body, it depends on molecules called lipoproteins. These carry cholesterol, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins in your blood.

Different kinds of lipoproteins have different effects on health. For example, high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) results in cholesterol deposits in blood vessel walls, which can lead to (1):

  • clogged arteries
  • stroke
  • heart attack
  • kidney failure

In contrast, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) helps carry cholesterol away from vessel walls and helps prevent these conditions (2).

There are many natural ways to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.

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The liver produces as much cholesterol as your body needs. It packages cholesterol with fat in what’s called very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL).

As VLDL delivers fat to cells throughout the body, it changes into the more dense LDL, which carries cholesterol wherever it is needed.

The liver also releases HDL, which then carries unused cholesterol back to the liver. This process is called reverse cholesterol transport, and it protects against clogged arteries and other types of heart disease.

Some lipoproteins, especially LDL and VLDL, are prone to damage by free radicals in a process called oxidation. Oxidized LDL (oxLDL) and VLDL (oxVLDL) are even more harmful to heart health (3).

Although food companies often advertise products as being low in cholesterol, recent research has shown that dietary cholesterol actually has only a small influence on the amount of cholesterol in the body (4).

This is because the liver changes the amount of cholesterol it makes depending on how much you eat. When your body absorbs more cholesterol from your diet, it makes less in the liver.

Current guidelines by leading U.S. health organizations for lowering risk of heart disease no longer contain specific recommended levels for dietary cholesterol, including the:

  • American Heart Association (AHA) (5)
  • American College of Cardiology (ACC) (6)
  • 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) (7)

Beginning in its 2015–2020 guidelines and continuing in the current 2020–2025 guidelines, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee eliminated its previous recommended daily cholesterol limit in favor of a new focus on dietary patterns rather than macronutrients. Its recommendations are based on an extensive review of recent research (8).

The 2020 DGA recommends, for people 2 years old and over, to limit intake of saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day. They also recommend replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, particularly polyunsaturated fats (8).

The guidelines do recommend moderating cholesterol consumption, but this is more to limit the saturated fat that often accompanies cholesterol in foods than to limit intake of cholesterol itself (9).

While dietary cholesterol may have little influence on your body’s cholesterol levels, other factors in your life may, such as:

  • family history
  • smoking
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • heavy alcohol consumption

Healthy lifestyle choices can help turn the tide by increasing the beneficial HDL and decreasing the harmful LDL. Read on to learn about natural ways to improve your cholesterol levels.

As opposed to saturated fats, unsaturated fats have at least one double chemical bond that changes the way your body uses them. Monounsaturated fats have only one double bond.

Some recommend a low fat diet for weight loss, but research is mixed on its effectiveness in controlling blood cholesterol.

One research report acknowledged that lower fat intake is an effective way to reduce blood cholesterol levels. However, researchers were concerned over potential negative effects of low fat diets, such as lowering HDL (good cholesterol) and increasing triglycerides (10).

In contrast, research has shown that a diet high in monounsaturated fats, such as the Mediterranean diet, helps reduce levels of harmful LDL and increase levels of healthy HDL (11).

Monounsaturated fats may also reduce the oxidation of cholesterol, according to research. Oxidized cholesterol can react with free radicals and contribute to clogged arteries. This can lead to atherosclerosis or heart disease (12).

Overall, monounsaturated fats are healthy because they decrease harmful LDL cholesterol, increase good HDL cholesterol and reduce harmful oxidation (13, 14).

Here are a few great sources of monounsaturated fats. Some are also good sources of polyunsaturated fat:

  • olive oil
  • nuts, such as almonds, cashews, pecans, and macadamias
  • canola oil
  • avocados
  • nut butters
  • olives
summary

Monounsaturated fats like those in olive oil, canola oil, tree nuts, and avocados reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and reduce the oxidation that contributes to clogged arteries.

Polyunsaturated fats have multiple double bonds that make them behave differently in the body than saturated fats. Research shows that polyunsaturated fats reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease.

For example, one study replaced saturated fats in 115 adults’ diets with polyunsaturated fats for 8 weeks. By the end of the study, total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels were reduced by about 10% (15).

Polyunsaturated fats also may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Another study changed the diets of 4,220 adults, replacing 5% of their calories from carbohydrates with polyunsaturated fats. Their blood glucose and fasting insulin levels decreased, indicating a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes (16).

Omega-3 fatty acids are an especially heart-healthy type of polyunsaturated fat. They’re found in seafood and fish oil supplements. Especially high amounts occur in fatty fish like:

  • salmon
  • mackerel
  • herring
  • deep sea tuna like bluefin or albacore
  • shellfish (to a lesser degree), including shrimp

Other sources of omega-3s include seeds and tree nuts, but not peanuts.

summary

All polyunsaturated fats are heart-healthy and may reduce the risk of diabetes. Omega-3 fats are a type of polyunsaturated fat with extra heart benefits.

Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been modified by a process called hydrogenation. This is done to make the unsaturated fats in vegetable oils more stable.

The resulting trans fats are not fully saturated and are called partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs).

They are solid at room temperature, which gives more texture than unsaturated liquid oils to products like spreads, pastries, and cookies. Their increased texture, as well as shelf stability, is what makes trans fats so attractive to food companies.

But partially hydrogenated trans fats are handled differently in the body than other fats, and not in a good way. Trans fats increase total cholesterol and LDL but decrease beneficial HDL (17).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned artificial PHOs, better known as trans fats, in processed foods in the United States as of 2018. The deadline was extended to January 1, 2020, to allow products already produced to work through distribution (18).

The World Health Organization (WHO) made a global call for the elimination of industrially produced trans fats from the global food supply by 2023 (19).

Foods that commonly contain trans fats include:

  • margarine and shortening
  • pastries and other baked goods
  • some microwaveable popcorn
  • fried fast foods
  • some pizzas
  • nondairy coffee creamer

A study of global health patterns found that consumption of excess trans fats, coupled with insufficient polyunsaturated fats and excess saturated fats, are a significant cause of coronary heart disease mortality globally (20).

In the United States, and in an increasing number of other countries, food companies are required to list the amount of trans fats in their products on nutrition labels.

However, these labels can be misleading, because companies are allowed to round down when the amount of trans fat per serving is less than 0.5 grams per serving. This means some foods contain trans fats even though their labels say “0 grams of trans fat per serving.” (21)

To avoid being misled, be sure to read the ingredients list in addition to the nutrition label. If a product contains “partially hydrogenated” oil, it contains trans fats and should be avoided.

summary

Foods with “partially hydrogenated” oil in the ingredients contain trans fats and are harmful, even if the label claims the product has “0 grams of trans fat per serving.”

Soluble fiber is a group of different compounds in plants that dissolve in water and that humans can’t digest.

However, the beneficial bacteria that live in your intestines can digest soluble fiber. In fact, they require it for their own nutrition. Research has shown that these good bacteria, also called probiotics, can help reduce LDL levels (22).

A research review confirmed earlier findings that whole grains, which contain substantial amounts of fiber, decrease both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels compared with control groups. The good news is that the whole grains were not shown to decrease levels of the good HDL cholesterol (23).

Soluble fiber can also help increase the cholesterol benefits of taking a statin medication.

One study published in 2014 suggested that, in a group of adults over 45, the use of statins combined with an increase in eating whole grain foods rich in fiber was associated with healthier lipoprotein profiles (24).

The benefits of soluble fibers stretches to many other diseases. A large review of several studies found high fiber intakes of both soluble and insoluble fiber reduced the risk of death over 17 years by nearly 15% (25).

Some of the best sources of soluble fiber include:

  • oat cereals
  • beans and lentils
  • Brussels sprouts
  • fruits
  • peas
  • flaxseeds

Fiber supplements like psyllium are also safe and inexpensive sources of soluble fiber.

summary

Soluble fiber nourishes healthy probiotic gut bacteria and helps removes LDL cholesterol from the body. Good sources include beans, peas, lentils, fruit, psyllium, and various whole grains, especially oats.

Exercise is a win-win for heart health. Not only does it improve physical fitness and help combat obesity, but it also reduces harmful LDL and increases beneficial HDL (26, 27).

The AHA advises that 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week is enough to lower cholesterol levels (28).

In one study, 12 weeks of combined aerobic and resistance exercise reduced the especially harmful oxidized LDL in 20 overweight women (29).

They exercised 3 days per week with 15 minutes each of aerobic activity including walking and jumping jacks, resistance-band training and low intensity Korean dance.

While even low intensity exercise like walking increases HDL, making your exercise longer and more intense increases the benefit (30).

Ideally, aerobic activity should raise the heart rate to about 75% of its maximum. Resistance training should be 50% of maximum effort.

Activity that elevates the heart rate to 85% of its maximum increases HDL and also decreases LDL. The longer the duration, the greater the effects (30).

Resistance exercise can decrease LDL even at moderate intensity. At maximum effort it also increases HDL. Increasing the number of sets or repetitions increases the benefit (30).

Some research disputes the effectiveness of moderate exercise at reducing cholesterol levels. One research review found that low to moderate aerobic exercise did not reduce the levels of LDL, except in several studies limited to specific populations (31).

Another study involving sedentary young women also found no change in lipid profiles after 8 weeks of different types of exercises (32.)

Researchers still recommended moderate exercise, especially for sedentary individuals, as it may help lower some specific-sized LDL particles called subfractions (33).

summary

Any type of exercise may improve cholesterol levels and promote heart health. The longer and more intense the exercise, the greater the benefit.

Having excess weight or obesity can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol levels. Every 10 pounds of excess fat produces roughly 10 mg of cholesterol per day. The good news is that losing weight, if you have excess weight, can decrease your cholesterol levels (34).

Research shows that people who lost between 5–10% of their weight significantly reduced their total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, as well as triglycerides. Those who lost more than 10% of their weight reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels significantly more (35).

One study involving weight loss for women found that a diet high in healthy oils lowered both good and bad cholesterol. Women with overweight or obesity engaged in a 1-year behavioral weight loss program and randomly assigned to 1 of 3 diets:

  • low fat and high carbohydrate
  • low carbohydrate and high fat
  • low carbohydrate and walnut-rich high fat

The walnut-rich diet affected cholesterol levels the most. It decreased LDL and increased HDL. The high fat, low carb group, whose diet emphasized monounsaturated fats, did not have the same beneficial cholesterol results as the walnut-rich diet group, whose diet emphasized polyunsaturated fatty acids (36).

Overall, weight loss has a double benefit on cholesterol by decreasing harmful LDL and increasing beneficial HDL. Work with your doctor closely to determine a nutrient-dense and sustainable weight loss plan.

summary

Weight loss reduces total cholesterol, in part by decreasing the creation of new cholesterol in the liver. Weight loss also helps decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

Smoking increases the risk of heart disease in several ways. One of these is by changing how the body handles cholesterol.

The immune cells in smokers are unable to return cholesterol from vessel walls to the blood for transport to the liver. This damage is related to tobacco tar, rather than nicotine (37).

These dysfunctional immune cells may contribute to the faster development of clogged arteries in smokers.

Cigarettes contain a toxic chemical compound called acrolein that can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs. Scientists believe it impairs how HDL in the body transports cholesterol and thereby increases LDL levels, which may lead to the development of heart disease (38).

Giving up smoking, if possible, can help reverse these harmful effects (39).

summary

Smoking has been shown to increase LDL, decrease HDL, and hinder the body’s ability to transport cholesterol back to the liver to be stored or broken down. Quitting smoking can help reverse these effects.

Alcohol’s role in providing heart-protective benefits is one of today’s major health debates. Some research indicates that when used in moderation, alcoholic drinks can increase the good HDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease (40, 41).

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the AHA disagree. The AHA does not endorse drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage specifically to lower your cholesterol or improve heart health. Both organizations say there is no credible research linking alcohol and improved heart health (42, 43).

The AHA acknowledges there may be a small rise of the good HDL cholesterol with moderate alcohol use, but it says exercise is a better way to achieve this benefit (43).

Some research recommends that alcohol consumption recommendations be reconsidered in light of its harmful effects on cardiovascular health, even in lower amounts (44).

What especially worries researchers about recommending moderate use of alcohol is the slippery slope down to misuse.

The AHA points out that triglycerides and total cholesterol levels increase with heavy alcohol intake. A recent study shows that heart damage may be occurring with heavy alcohol use even before symptoms appear (45, 46).

Although the question remains about whether or not alcohol can reduce heart disease risk, everyone agrees that too much alcohol harms the liver and increases the risk of dependence. It is important to consume alcohol only in moderation to achieve any potential cardiovascular benefit.

The CDC suggests you moderate drinking by consuming only 2 drinks per day for men or 1 drink per day for women, on days that you drink (47).

summary

On days you drink, 1–2 drinks per day may improve HDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, heavier alcohol use increases heart disease risk and harms the liver.

Multiple types of supplements show promise for managing cholesterol.

Plant stanols and sterols are plant versions of cholesterol. Because they resemble cholesterol, they are absorbed from the diet like cholesterol.

However, because parts of their chemistry are different from human cholesterol, they do not contribute to clogged arteries.

Instead, they reduce cholesterol levels by competing with human cholesterol. When plant sterols are absorbed from the diet, this replaces the absorption of cholesterol.

Small amounts of plant stanols and sterols are naturally found in vegetable oils and are added to certain oils and butter substitutes.

A research review reported that clinical studies show that taking 1.5–3 grams of plant sterols/stanols daily can reduce LDL concentration by 7.5–12%. Researchers said taking it with a main meal twice per day allows for optimal cholesterol-lowering (48).

Although research has established the cholesterol-lowering benefit of plant stanols and sterols, it has not yet proved that they decrease the risk of heart disease. Numerous clinical trials have suggested that plant sterols supplements and enriched foods may lower heart disease risk, but hard data is still lacking (49).

summary

Plant stanols and sterols in vegetable oil or margarines compete with cholesterol absorption and reduce LDL by up to 20%. They are not proven to reduce heart disease.

There is strong evidence that fish oil and soluble fiber improve cholesterol and promote heart health. Another supplement, coenzyme Q10, is showing promise in improving cholesterol, although its long-term benefits are not yet known.

Fish oil

Fish oil is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

One study found that supplementing the diets of older adults who had high blood pressure and high cholesterol with fish oil-based Omega3Q10 reduced high blood pressure and both total cholesterol and LDL levels (50).

However, the AHA surprised the medical world in 2020 with the announcement that its international STRENGTH trial involving a medication made from fish oil failed to reduce the risk of cardiac events. The study involved 13,000 people who either had existing heart disease or were at risk of developing it (51).

Researchers acknowledged that while many people take fish oil to reduce risk of developing heart disease, at least with the product they used, this connection did not hold true. Researchers called for another trial to be conducted to resolve the issue (51).

You can shop for fish oil supplements online.

Psyllium

Psyllium is a form of soluble fiber available as a supplement.

A research review of 28 studies found that psyllium fiber effectively lowers LDL cholesterol levels, potentially delaying the cardiovascular disease risk caused by clogged arteries in those with or without high cholesterol (52).

The FDA agrees, saying 7 grams of soluble fiber per day, taken from 10.2 grams of psyllium husk, helps reduce the risk of coronary artery disease based on psyllium’s ability to reduce cholesterol levels (53).

You can check out a selection of psyllium supplements online.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is a food chemical that helps cells produce energy. It is similar to a vitamin, except that the body can produce its own Q10, preventing deficiency.

Even if there is no deficiency, extra Q10 in the form of supplements may have benefits in some situations.

Several studies with a total of 409 participants found coenzyme Q10 supplements reduced total cholesterol. In these studies, LDL and HDL did not change (54).

A research review involving people with coronary artery disease showed that CoQ10 supplementation improved their lipid profiles by decreasing total cholesterol and increasing HDL levels. Triglycerides and LDL levels remained unaffected (55).

Another research review examining the effect of Q10 in treating cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. It found many encouraging results on the supplementation of COQ10 in different conditions but concluded that data was controversial and limited, and that more research is needed (56).

You can purchase coenzyme Q10 supplements online.

summary

Fish oil supplements and soluble fiber supplements like psyllium improve cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Coenzyme Q10 supplements reduce total cholesterol levels, but further research is needed on Q10’s role in reducing heart disease.

Cholesterol has important functions in the body, but can cause clogged arteries and heart disease when it gets out of control.

LDL is prone to free radical damage and contributes most to heart disease. In contrast, HDL protects against heart disease by carrying cholesterol away from vessel walls and back to the liver.

If your cholesterol is out of balance, lifestyle interventions are the first line of treatment.

Unsaturated fats, soluble fiber, and plant sterols and stanols can increase good HDL and decrease bad LDL. Exercise and weight loss can also help.

Eating trans fats and smoking are harmful and should be avoided.

The CDC recommends that you have your cholesterol levels checked every 5 years starting at age 20. Ask your doctor about any concerns you have. A simple blood draw, taken after an overnight fast, is all that’s required (57).

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People also ask
More FAQs for how to lower cholesterol
  • What foods are the worst for cholesterol?

    For example, even changing the type of oil you cook with has been found to help manage your cholesterol levels. According to a study from The Journal of Nutrition, palm oil is one of the worst oils for your cholesterol levels because it is so high in ...
    The #1 Worst Oil for Cholesterol, Says Science
  • What is the quickest way to reduce cholesterol?

    4 Simple Tips to Lower Your LDL CholesterolDiet and Weight Loss. Being overweight or obese not only places you at risk for developing high LDL levels, it can also contribute to heart disease and other chronic medical ...Increase Physical Activity. ...Stop Smoking. ...Alcohol and LDL Levels. ...Summary. ...A Word From Verywell. ...

    It's not called the "bad cholesterol" for nothing.

    Having untreated high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can place you at risk for heart disease and stroke if it becomes trapped in your arteries and turns to plaque.

    The good news is that, unlike other risk factors, you may be able to prevent high LDL levels or lower your LDL levels if they are already high.

    Many cholesterol medications can lower LDL levels. But your healthcare provider may advise you to try therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC) to see how low your LDL can go before putting you on medication.

    Whether you want to lower your LDL or prevent it from increasing, following a few tips can help you keep it within a healthy range.

    This article explains how following a sensible diet, losing extra weight, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and drinking in moderation can put "bad cholesterol" in its place.

    Verywell / JR Bee

    Being overweight or obese not only places you at risk for developing high LDL levels, it can also contribute to heart disease and other chronic medical conditions. Research shows that losing even a small amount of weight (less than five pounds) may help lower your LDL levels.

    Eating right can help your heart health, too. Foods high in soluble fiber and phytosterols and healthy fats like olive oil have been found to help lower LDL cholesterol.

    The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute notes that it's possible to reduce your LDL by between 20% and 30% with a few simple changes:

    • Allowing less than 7% of calories to be from saturated fats can reduce LDL by between 8% and 10%.
    • Decreasing daily cholesterol intake to less than 200 milligrams can lower LDL by between 5% and 8%.
    • Losing 10 pounds can reduce your LDL by between 5% and 8%.
    • Adding 5 grams to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day can decrease LDL by between 3% and 5%.
    • Adding 2 daily grams of plant sterols can reduce LDL by between 5% and 15%.

    It's possible for LDL cholesterol to eventually return to original levels, even when you lose weight and maintain it. Nonetheless, the benefits make weight maintenance and good nutrition worthy goals to pursue.

    Exercise is not only good for losing weight, but moderate amounts of it may also help lower your LDL cholesterol.

    Aerobic exercises, such as running, cycling, jogging, and swimming, appear to stand the best chance at lowering LDL while reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Other forms of exercise, such as yoga, walking, and weight-bearing exercises have been shown to modestly decrease LDL levels. However, these activities have not been studied to the same extent as aerobic exercise.

    Cigarette smoking is linked to higher cholesterol levels as well as the formation of a damaging form of LDL called oxidized LDL, which contributes to atherosclerosis.

    Research has shown that cholesterol levels drop as soon as you stop smoking. With each month after quitting, LDL levels drop even more. After 90 days, the effects of smoking on cholesterol can be reversed even more.

    Although "moderate" consumption of alcohol can raise high-density lipoproteins (HDL) levels, it can also lower LDL, according to studies. The "good" HDL lipoproteins absorb cholesterol and carry it back to the liver before the liver ushers it out of the body.

    Moderate consumption means one serving a day for women and one to two servings per day for men. (A serving is 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine.)

    However, drinking more alcohol doesn’t necessarily equal better results in terms of improving your heart health. Studies have also indicated that drinking more than three alcoholic drinks a day could actually increase your chances of developing heart disease.

    Medication isn't the only way to lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. Eating right, losing weight, exercising, quitting smoking, and drinking only moderate amounts of alcohol can lower your "bad cholesterol" levels. Physicians tend to focus on LDLs because they can put you at risk for heart disease and stroke if they build up in your arteries.

    As hopeful as you might feel about lowering you LDL levels, remember your baseline, or where you're starting from. In other words, while these proactive steps may make a difference, they not be enough. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider's recommendations regarding the best ways to treat your high cholesterol.

    Turn to our Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide below to help start that conversation.

    Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

    Thanks for your feedback!

    What are your concerns?

    Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. LDL and HDL cholesterol: "Bad" and "good" cholesterol.

    2. Ooi EM, Lichtenstein AH, Millar JS, et al. Effects of therapeutic lifestyle change diets high and low in dietary fish-derived FAs on lipoprotein metabolism in middle-aged and elderly subjects. J Lipid Res. 2012;53(9):1958–1967. doi:10.1194/jlr.P024315

    3. UC San Diego Health. Cholesterol levels improve with weight loss and healthy fat-rich diet.

    4. Le T, Flatt SW, Natarajan L, et al. Effects of diet composition and insulin resistance status on plasma lipid levels in a weight loss intervention in women. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016;5(1). doi:10.1161/JAHA.115.002771

    5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Your guide to lowering cholesterol with TLC.

    6. Yunsuk K, Park J, Carter R. Oxidized low-density lipoprotein and cell adhesion molecules following exercise training. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 2017. doi:10.1055/s-0043-118848.

    7. Zhou MS, Chadipiralla K, Mendez AJ, et al. Nicotine potentiates proatherogenic effects of oxLDL by stimulating and upregulating macrophage CD36 signaling. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013;305(4):H563-74. doi:10.1152/ajpheart.00042.2013

    8. Zhang Y, Chen L, Feng C, et al. ASSA 14-13-01 cigarette smoking-induced LDL dysfunction is partially reversible after smoking cessation. Heart. 2015;101:A40–A41. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2014-307109.107

    9. Tabara Y, et al. Mendelian randomization analysis in three japanese populartions supports a casual role of alcohol consumption in lowering low-density cholesterol levels and particle numbers. Atherosclerosis. 2016;254:242–248. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2016.08.021

    4 Simple Ways to Lower Your LDL Cholesterol
  • What foods are best for reducing cholesterol?

    These foods include:fruitlegumes (such as chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, three-bean mix and baked beans)wholegrain cereals and foods (for example, oats and barley).

    Medically Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on April 22, 2014

    You're taking a new look at food, with a goal of bringing down your LDL ("bad") cholesterol level. One thing that may make it easier is to have a plan that sets you up for success, and which has research backing it up.

    That's where these 10 diets come in. They can help you lower your cholesterol and lose extra weight and still enjoy food that tastes great.

    You’ll eat what people in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea have relied on for centuries: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, and olive oil.

    The proof is in the pudding: Scientific research suggests it’s excellent for heart health.

    Many doctors use this as a go-to diet for people with high cholesterol. “The fact that it's not a fad, it tastes good, it's flexible, and adaptable make it easier to share with patients and set them up for success,” says James Beckerman, MD, a cardiologist in Portland, OR.

    Heard about the Mediterranean Diet? "It's not a fad, it tastes good, it's flexible." -- cardiologist James Beckerman, MD

    This three-part plan (diet, exercise, and weight control) can lower your LDL cholesterol by 20% to 30%.

    You’ll say goodbye to trans fats and avoid foods with saturated fat, but you won’t feel deprived. You’ll eat healthier versions of your favorite foods, like lean ham instead of bacon.

    There’s even room for pancakes, peanut butter, and ice cream, as long as you keep portions in check.

    This easy-to-follow plan gets a stamp of approval from the American Heart Association and is proven to lower blood pressure.

    Bonus: It works fast. In one study, people saw results in just 2 weeks.

    You’ll eat foods like grains, fruits, and veggies, which give you fiber and other nutrients. And you'll get lean proteins like low-fat milk products, beans, and fish. You’ll cut way back on sodium, added sugar, sweets, and red meat.

    This plan just might become your new way of life.

    You'll choose high-fiber foods like oatmeal and oat bran, fish and other foods loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, nuts like walnuts and almonds, and olive oil, to help lower cholesterol.

    Exercise and portion size are also big parts of this plan, which begins with a 2-week jump-start phase and keeps going forever.

    These plant-based diets could do a lot for your cholesterol, if you choose your foods wisely.

    Vegetarians don't eat any meat. Vegans don't eat any animal products, including meat, eggs, dairy, or even honey.

    Studies suggest vegetarians are less likely to get heart disease and high blood pressure. That’s because a diet with low or no animal products tends to be lower in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.

    But if you’re going vegetarian or vegan, you'll still need to check food labels and keep sweets and fatty foods to a minimum.

    You may also want to check with a dietitian that you're getting enough protein and essential nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and zinc.

    Like the idea of eating a mostly vegetarian diet, but with room for small portions of meat, fish, and poultry? That's called a "flexitarian" diet. It has many of the health benefits of a vegetarian diet but room for flexibility.

    You'll fill about half your plate with fruits and vegetables. The other half will be a mix of whole grains and lean protein. Low-fat dairy products are also recommended, like milk, yogurt, and cheese.

    This is a plant-based diet created by a firefighter and former professional athlete. It’s a radical diet change to lower your LDL cholesterol levels and boost your HDL levels.

    It's not a very flexible plan. You’ll enjoy lots of whole grains, veggies, fruits, legumes, tofu, and soy products, but no meat, dairy, or processed foods.

    You can lower your cholesterol while losing weight, lowering your blood pressure, getting stronger, and boosting your energy with this diet, which is based on the hit TV show.

    Exercise is a must. And if you want results like the people on the TV show, going the extra mile is key.

    This is a great plan for long-term health benefits, especially if you want to manage your weight. It’s a well-balanced diet that can help you feel full and satisfied, so it’s likely that you’ll stick to it.

    “You don’t want to ‘diet’ your entire life, but rather choose meals that are consistent with healthy life choices,” says Paul B. Langevin, MD, of Philadelphia.

    The plan works best if you choose meals that are high in protein and fiber, and eat fewer carbohydrates and fats, Langevin says.

    Ornish's plan comes in several levels. The strictest one is very low in fat and leaves out animal products.

    In one small study, people who followed this ultra-low-fat diet lowered their cholesterol levels by more than 30%. President Bill Clinton said Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Diseaseinspired him to radically change his diet following emergency heart surgery.

    Many people may find that tough to do. But Ornish also gives you other options that aren't as strict, depending on your health goals.

    “Some fats are good and necessary,” says Langevin. He says fats like fish oils, polyunsaturated oils, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are off-limits on the strictest version of Ornish's plan, are good for you and necessary to keep your body functioning well.

    © 2014 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info
    The 20 Best Foods for Lowering Your Cholesterol, According to a Nutriti…
  • What not to eat to lower cholesterol?

    These include but are not limited to:deep-fried foodsfull fat dairy products, such as creamanimal fats, including butter, lard, and margarinefatty meats

    Although there are many types of healthy foods that can be included in a diet to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides, there are some foods you should use sparingly, if not completely omit, from your lipid-lowering diet. Not only do some types of foods affect your cholesterol and triglycerides, but they can also affect other medical conditions that have a negative impact on your heart health, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. By paying attention to the foods you include in your diet, you are ensuring that you are keeping your lipid levels, and your heart, healthy. The following foods may affect your lipid profile and should be used sparingly in your diet.

    Natasha Breen / Getty Images

    Studies have noted that consuming foods high in saturated fat can increase your LDL cholesterol. However, some studies have noted that although foods high in saturated fat may increase your LDL levels, the type of LDL increased is large and buoyant – a type of LDL that does not appear to increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Nonetheless, these foods are also higher in calories – which can cause you to gain weight if you consume these foods regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that saturated fat should consist of less than 7% of your daily caloric intake. These foods are usually high in saturated fat:

    • Processed meats
    • Dairy products
    • Certain cooking oils
    • Animal meat

    There are many pre-packaged foods – such as snacks and meals – that may also be high in saturated fat. In some cases, a low-fat version of your favorite foods may also be available. In these cases, you should check the nutrition labels to verify ​the amount of saturated fat per serving.

    Trans fats are a form of fat found in some foods. Because these fats can lower HDL, increase LDL, and promote inflammation, it is recommended that you limit foods containing trans fat in your heart-healthy diet. Some of the following foods are likely to introduce trans fats into your diet:

    • Fried foods
    • Some fast foods
    • Pastries, cakes, and pies
    • Some snack foods
    • Non-dairy creamer

    The FDA has stated that trans fats are “generally not recognized as safe”, so manufacturers are phasing out the use of this fat in the preparation of their foods. Because these foods have the potential to add saturated fat and calories to your foods, too, they should be limited – if not avoided – in your lipid-lowering meal plan.

    Foods that are high in refined sugar content should also be avoided if you are watching your lipid levels. Consuming a diet high in refined sugars can adversely affect your HDL and triglyceride levels. Some studies have also found a link between consuming a diet high in refined sugars and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Because of this, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar in foods should be consumed daily by women, and 9 teaspoons daily for men.

    Some of the more obvious foods that are high in refined sugars include candy, pastries, colas, cookies, and cakes. However, refined sugars can be hidden in some seemingly healthier foods, including:

    • Fruit juices
    • Bread
    • Yogurt
    • Snack foods
    • Sauces – including tomato and applesauce
    • Salad dressings

    Refined sugar can also be hidden in some pre-packaged meals and foods, contributing even more sugar and calories to your daily intake. Fortunately, there are some ways to make these foods healthier and with less added sugar. For instance, you can swap your higher carbohydrate white bread for whole-grain bread. Instead of purchasing sugary fruit juices off of the shelf, you make your own fruit juices using real fruit, without the added sugar. This will also increase your fiber intake, a type of carbohydrate that can help lower your LDL cholesterol.

    Nutrition labels, which can be found on the back of many food packages, can be your best ally when looking for foods to limit in your healthy diet. Saturated fat and trans fat content are located under the Total Fat heading of the nutrition label, whereas sugar content can be found under Total Carbohydrates.

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Reducing cholesterol: How to do it, how long it takes

30-06-2021 · Cholesterol medications such as statins may be the fastest way to lower cholesterol for some people – usually within 6 to 8 weeks. This allows a person to quickly reduce their heart disease risk ...

30-06-2021

Maintaining a healthy cholesterol level helps to prevent heart disease. A person with high LDL cholesterol can use a combination of diet and habit changes to lower their LDL cholesterol to a healthy level over time.

The body needs some cholesterol to function normally. However, too much cholesterol – especially low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.

People concerned about their cholesterol may wonder how to reduce cholesterol in 30 days. However, cholesterol reduction takes time, and most research looks at cholesterol changes over many months.

People hoping to naturally reduce their cholesterol can steadily lower their cholesterol with a number of healthy lifestyle changes.

This article looks at what cholesterol is, how it affects health, how long it takes to reduce cholesterol, normal and high cholesterol levels, and the best ways to lower cholesterol.

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The liver naturally produces cholesterol, which is a fatty substance that helps the body make hormones and digest fatty foods.

There is also cholesterol in animal-based foods, such as eggs and meat. The body does not need cholesterol from food, and can naturally manufacture the cholesterol it needs.

Cholesterol tests measure two types of cholesterol:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): This type of cholesterol is what many people consider the “bad” kind. High levels of LDL can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, clogged arteries, and other heart health issues.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL): This “good” cholesterol can help remove cholesterol and carry it back to the liver. Higher levels of HDL may lower a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

Total cholesterol is a measure of HDL plus LDL and also triglycerides.

If a person has low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol, their risk of heart disease is higher.

Cholesterol drops over time, not suddenly, after a few days of healthier living. There is no set period in which cholesterol is guaranteed to drop.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs usually produce a change in LDL within 6 to 8 weeks. It is possible for lifestyle changes to change cholesterol levels within weeks. However, it may take longer, usually about 3 months — sometimes more.

Some doctors recommend adding a cholesterol-lowering drug if a person has not lowered their LDL cholesterol after about 12 weeks of lifestyle changes.

For most people, healthy cholesterol levels are as follows:

  • Total cholesterol: less than 200 milligrams per deciliter
  • LDL “bad” cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
  • HDL “good” cholesterol: higher than 60 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides: less than 150 mg/dL

According to an article in the journal Circulation, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend using statins to lower cholesterol in people with cholesterol higher outside of these levels.

However, they also recommend doctors consider a person’s cholesterol levels and overall risk of cardiovascular disease before prescribing a cholesterol-lowering medication.

The AHA recommends that people with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease get high-intensity statin therapy maximally tolerated statin therapy to lower LDL by at least 50%.

The AHA also recommends high-intensity statin therapy for individuals with severe primary hypercholesterolemia (LDL greater than OR equal to 190 mg/dL).

There are a number of habit changes a person can incorporate into their daily routines in order to gradually and consistently lower their LDL levels over time. Including:

Eat balanced diet

Many different foods contain cholesterol, and some foods such as eggs are high in cholesterol.

However, a number of studies have found that the cholesterol a person gets from food does not substantially increase blood cholesterol.

Instead, what matters is eating a balanced diet with a variety of nutrients.

A person can try the following:

  • Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Avoid trans fats, and limit foods high in saturated fat.
  • Limit foods with added sugars.
  • Eat a lower sodium diet. Many processed foods contain high levels of sodium, even if they do not taste salty.
  • Eat high fiber foods such as oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, and beans.

Because cholesterol intake does not directly correlate with cholesterol levels in most people, people do not necessarily need to avoid foods that contain cholesterol. Instead, most people should focus on eating a balanced diet that is low in trans fats and saturated fats.

For some people, however, cholesterol intake does bear an important relation to serum levels, and they should monitor their cholesterol intake from food accordingly.

Maintain a moderate weight

Maintaining or achieving a moderate weight that is within the BMI range recommended by doctors can help lower cholesterol, while also reducing other heart disease risks.

A person should focus on achieving and maintaining a moderate weight with a combination of healthy eating and lots of physical activity, as both of these can also lower cholesterol.

Become more active

Physical activity exercises the heart, reducing the risk of heart disease. It can also help the body more effectively remove cholesterol from the blood, steadily lowering bad cholesterol.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, per week.

People who are not active can start slowly. Even a slight increase in physical activity can improve health, and may make it easier to work up to more exercise.

Make lifestyle changes

Quitting or cutting back on habits such as smoking and excessive drinking can help lower cholesterol, while improving overall health.

Ask about cholesterol medication

Cholesterol medications such as statins may be the fastest way to lower cholesterol for some people – usually within 6 to 8 weeks. This allows a person to quickly reduce their heart disease risk while cultivating a healthy lifestyle. During this period, a person can focus on lowering cholesterol over time with lifestyle and dietary changes.

Because high cholesterol is a risk factor for serious heart health issues, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recommend statins for many groups of people with high LDL cholesterol.

If LDL cholesterol does not drop enough with diet and lifestyle changes and statins, a person might need additional medications.

Lowering LDL cholesterol can reduce a person’s risk of heart disease. The heart-healthy habits that can lower cholesterol may also improve a person’s overall health by helping them maintain a healthy weight and improving blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes.

This means that even people with moderately high cholesterol may see health improvements with a cholesterol-friendly lifestyle.

Even when cholesterol dips, persisting with these healthy habits can improve long-term health.

Talk with a doctor about individual heart disease risk factors, and about which cholesterol management strategies are best for a person’s overall health.

health.harvard.edu

How to lower your cholesterol without drugs April 15, 2020. You can begin to reduce your "bad" LDL cholesterol naturally by making a few simple changes in your diet. If your cholesterol is creeping upward, your doctor has probably told you that diet and exercise—the traditional cornerstones of heart health—could help to bring it down. And if you'd prefer to make just one change at a time ...

Lower Your Cholesterol in 11 Easy Steps

Living with high cholesterol? WebMD gives you 11 tips to lower it, fast.

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on November 12, 2015

If you have high cholesterol, you’re also at higher risk for heart disease. But the good news is, it’s a risk you can control. You can lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise your “good” HDL cholesterol. You just have to make some simple changes.

“I tell patients that you have to start somewhere and just keep going,” says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, an attending cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “As you adopt lifestyle changes, everything starts shifting, and the improvements you see at 6 weeks often increase by 3 months.”

You still may need to take medicine to get your cholesterol back on track. But if you make just a few, small changes, you might be able to lower your dose and chance of side effects.

Follow these tips to cut your cholesterol and get back on the road to good health.

“They raise your LDL, lower your HDL, and increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke,” Steinbaum says. But it’s hard to avoid them. They’re found in fried foods, baked goods (cakes, pie crusts, frozen pizza, and cookies), and stick margarines.

That’s why the FDA is taking steps to remove them from the food supply. How can you avoid them in the meantime? When you go shopping, read the labels. But be careful if you see “partially hydrogenated oil” on the package. That’s just a fancy name for trans fat.

You don’t have to lose a lot of weight to lower your cholesterol. If you’re overweight, drop just 10 pounds and you’ll cut your LDL by up to 8%. But to really keep off the pounds, you’ll have to do it over time. A reasonable and safe goal is 1 to 2 pounds a week. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute notes that while inactive, overweight women usually need 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily for weight loss, active, overweight women and women weighing more than 164 pounds usually require 1,200 to 1,600 calories each day. If you’re extremely active during your weight-loss program, you may require additional calories to avoid hunger.

“Exercising at least 2 1/2 hours a week is enough to raise HDL and improve LDL and triglycerides,” says Sarah Samaan, MD, a cardiologist in Plano, TX. If you haven’t been active, start slowly -- even 10-minute blocks of activity count. Choose an exercise you enjoy. And buddy up: An exercise partner can help keep you on track.

Foods like oatmeal, apples, prunes, and beans are high in soluble fiber, which keeps your body from absorbing cholesterol. Research shows that people who ate 5 to 10 more grams of it each day saw a drop in their LDL. Eating more fiber also makes you feel full, so you won’t crave snacks as much. But beware: Too much fiber at one time can cause abdominal cramps or bloating. Increase your intake slowly.

Try to eat it two to four times a week. “Not only are the omega-3 fats in fish heart-healthy, but replacing red meat with fish will lower your cholesterol by reducing your exposure to saturated fats, which are abundant in red meat,” Samaan says. The catch? Some types, like shark, swordfish, and king mackerel, are high in mercury. That can increase your risk for heart disease. Instead, choose wild salmon, sardines, and bluefin tuna. Omega 3 vs omega 6: What's the difference?

“Substituting olive oil for butter may reduce LDL cholesterol by as much as 15%, which is similar to the effect of a low dose of medication,” Samaan says. The “good” fats in olive oil benefit your heart. Choose extra-virgin olive oil. It’s less processed and contains more antioxidants, which help prevent disease.

Most types can lower LDL. The reason: They contain sterols, which, like fiber, keep the body from absorbing cholesterol, Steinbaum says. Just don’t go overboard: Nuts are high in calories (an ounce of almonds packs 164!).

Did you know that when you’re stressed, your cholesterol can go through the roof? Relax. Get lost in a good book, meet a friend for coffee, or take to your yoga mat. It’ll help keep your cholesterol in check.

If you don’t already dust your cappuccino with cinnamon or shake pepper on your pasta, listen up: Spices like garlic, curcumin, ginger, black pepper, coriander, and cinnamon do more than flavor your food, they can also improve cholesterol. Research shows that eating a half to one clove of garlic each day could lower cholesterol up to 9%. Bonus: Adding extra seasoning to your food also reduces your appetite, so it’s easier to drop excess pounds, Steinbaum says.

“Smoking can raise LDL and lower HDL, and quitting often improves those numbers,” Samaan says. In one study, people who stopped smoking saw their “good” cholesterol rise 5% in one year. But if you’re regularly around smokers, take heed: Breathing secondhand smoke every day can also raise levels of bad cholesterol.

Laughter is like medicine: It increases HDL, Steinbaum says. Need to add some comic relief to your life? Check out silly pet videos online, sign up for a joke-a-day email, or watch funny movies.

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To my complete surprise, in just under 6 weeks, I’d actually managed to get my total cholesterol down from 6.2 to 4.4, putting me in the ‘Desirable’ category. Before:-After:-I’m …

mayoclinic.org

High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Medications can help improve your cholesterol. But if you'd rather first make lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol, try these five healthy changes. If you already take medications, these changes can improve their cholesterol-lowering effect.

Lifestyle changes can help improve your cholesterol — and boost the cholesterol-lowering power of medications.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

High cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Medications can help improve your cholesterol. But if you'd rather first make lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol, try these five healthy changes.

If you already take medications, these changes can improve their cholesterol-lowering effect.

A few changes in your diet can reduce cholesterol and improve your heart health:

  • Reduce saturated fats. Saturated fats, found primarily in red meat and full-fat dairy products, raise your total cholesterol. Decreasing your consumption of saturated fats can reduce your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — the "bad" cholesterol.
  • Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats, sometimes listed on food labels as "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil," are often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes. Trans fats raise overall cholesterol levels. The Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils by Jan. 1, 2021.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids don't affect LDL cholesterol. But they have other heart-healthy benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, walnuts and flaxseeds.
  • Increase soluble fiber. Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Soluble fiber is found in such foods as oatmeal, kidney beans, Brussels sprouts, apples and pears.
  • Add whey protein. Whey protein, which is found in dairy products, may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure.

Exercise can improve cholesterol. Moderate physical activity can help raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol. With your doctor's OK, work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week.

Adding physical activity, even in short intervals several times a day, can help you begin to lose weight. Consider:

  • Taking a brisk daily walk during your lunch hour
  • Riding your bike to work
  • Playing a favorite sport

To stay motivated, consider finding an exercise buddy or joining an exercise group.

Quitting smoking improves your HDL cholesterol level. The benefits occur quickly:

  • Within 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the cigarette-induced spike
  • Within three months of quitting, your blood circulation and lung function begin to improve
  • Within a year of quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker

Carrying even a few extra pounds contributes to high cholesterol. Small changes add up. If you drink sugary beverages, switch to tap water. Snack on air-popped popcorn or pretzels — but keep track of the calories. If you crave something sweet, try sherbet or candies with little or no fat, such as jelly beans.

Look for ways to incorporate more activity into your daily routine, such as using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or parking farther from your office. Take walks during breaks at work. Try to increase standing activities, such as cooking or doing yardwork.

Moderate use of alcohol has been linked with higher levels of HDL cholesterol — but the benefits aren't strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn't already drink.

If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.

Too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and strokes.

Sometimes healthy lifestyle changes aren't enough to lower cholesterol levels. If your doctor recommends medication to help lower your cholesterol, take it as prescribed while continuing your lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes can help you keep your medication dose low.

Aug. 28, 2020

  1. Your guide to lowering your cholesterol with TLC. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/chol_tlc.pdf Accessed May 22, 2018.
  2. Kumar P, et al. Lipid and metabolic disorders. In: Kumar and Clark's Clinical Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2017. https://clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 22, 2018.
  3. Tangney CC, et al. Lipid lowering with diet or dietary supplements. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed May 22, 2018.
  4. Catapano AL, et al. 2016 ESC/EAS guidelines for the management of dyslipidaemias: The task for the management of dyslipidaemias of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and European Atherosclerosis Society (EAS) developed with the special contribution of the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitaiton (EACPR). Atherosclerosis. 2016;253:281.
  5. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Accessed May 22, 2018.
  6. Final determination regarding partially hydrogenated oils (removing trans fat). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/foodadditivesingredients/ucm449162.htm. Accessed June 28, 2018.
  7. Cooking to lower cholesterol. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Cooking-To-Lower-Cholesterol_UCM_305630_Article.jsp#.WwMFAVMvxmA. Accessed May 22, 2018.
  8. Fekete AA, et al. Whey protein lowers blood pressure and improves endothelial function and lipid biomarkers in adults with prehypertension and mild hypertensions: Results from the chronic Whey2Go randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016;104:1534.
  9. Douglas PS. Exercise and fitness in the prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. https://www.uptodate.com/contents.search. Accessed May 30, 2018.
  10. AskMayoExpert. Hyperlipidemia (adult). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2018. Accessed May 22, 2018.
  11. Braun LT, et al. Effects of exercise on lipoproteins and hemostatic factors. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed May 30, 2018.
  12. Smoke-free living: Benefits and milestones. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/QuitSmoking/QuittingSmoking/Smoke-free-Living-Benefits-Milestones_UCM_322711_Article.jsp. Accessed May 230, 2018.
  13. Tangney CC, et al. Cardiovascular benefits and risks of moderate alcohol consumption. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed May 31, 2018.
  14. Bonow RO, et al., eds. Risk markers and the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. In: Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2019. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 30, 2018.
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10 Tips for Lower Cholesterol

27-02-2019 · Low-density lipoprotein or LDL (bad) cholesterol contributes to plaque buildup along with triglycerides, another kind of lipid.Plaque can threaten the blood supply to the heart, brain, legs or ...

27-02-2019

We all want to be heart healthy, and ensuring healthy levels of cholesterol — a fat, or lipid, carried through the bloodstream — is the first step.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Low-density lipoprotein or LDL (bad) cholesterol contributes to plaque buildup along with triglycerides, another kind of lipid. Plaque can threaten the blood supply to the heart, brain, legs or kidneys, leading to heart attack, stroke or even death.

High-density lipoprotein, or HDL (good) cholesterol, discourages plaque buildup.

To reduce your risk for heart-related emergencies, registered dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CCSD, LD, and exercise physiologist Michael Crawford, MS, share tips for lowering cholesterol through diet and making the most of exercise.

1. Cut back on animal fats

Forgo fatty, processed meats such as bologna, salami, pepperoni and hot dogs, as well as fatty red meats like ribs and prime cuts of beef, pork, veal or lamb. Also, skip skin-on chicken or turkey. Avoid full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, cream, sour cream, cream cheese and butter. These foods contain saturated fat as well as cholesterol, which are both associated with higher blood cholesterol and plaque buildup.

2. Make friends with fiber

Specifically, get friendly with foods high in soluble fiber. In the gut, soluble fiber can bind to bile (which is made up of cholesterol) and remove it. Look for soluble fiber in oats, oat bran, ground flaxseed, psyllium, barley, dried beans and legumes, fruits, and whole-grain cereals.

3. Go veggie

Choose at least one meatless meal per week. Substitute animal protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese) for plant-based protein such as beans, lentils, tofu or quinoa. Try these plant-based proteins in salad, soup, stir fry, or a burrito to decrease your saturated fat intake and increase your fiber intake. If you enjoy meatless meals, try to go meatless for one day per week!

4. Be mindful of carbs

Research shows that following a low-carb eating plan can help you lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Choose high-fiber carbohydrates like oatmeal, whole grain starches, beans, lentils and whole fruit, which will provide the energy you need but also keep you feeling full. The key is to watch your portions — aim for no more than about 1 cup of starch and/or fruit with meals. Also, fill up on vegetables which are low in calories and high in fiber.

5. Lose weight (if you need to)

If you’re overweight or obese, shed the extra pounds. Weight loss helps lower LDL cholesterol. Even a small-to-moderate weight loss — just 10 to 20 pounds — can make an impact. Start by decreasing your portion sizes. Aim to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth of it with a whole-grain starch and the other one-fourth with lean protein. Avoid drinking your calories, too. Instead, choose zero-calorie beverages as your primary fluid source. Be mindful of your hunger levels to limit extra calories from mindless snacking.

6. Move more

Work up to 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day for optimum heart health and weight loss. Cardiovascular exercise means any activity that uses large muscles repetitively and increases the heart rate — think walking, cycling, rowing, using the elliptical and swimming. If you find 90 minutes daunting, start with 30 minutes and work your way up a little at a time. For some people, 45 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise is enough.

7. Pick the right tempo

Aim for a moderate level of exercise. You’ll know you’ve reached it when you can carry on a conversation when you exercise but can’t sing. Once you have safely mastered moderate-intensity exercise, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT) one to two times per week. Emerging research suggests this type of training can improve upon moderate-intensity exercise benefits, especially for raising HDL cholesterol.

8. Make a habit of it

Consistency is the key. Work out regularly and you’ll watch your triglyceride levels drop. Triglycerides are the only lipid in the cholesterol profile used for energy. They decrease an average of 24 percent with regular cardiovascular exercise.

9. Change it up

Variety is the spice of life, so try different exercises to stay motivated, to challenge other muscle groups, to reduce the risk of overuse injuries and to enjoy your physical activities.

10. Get technical

Many great technology tools can give you feedback on your exercise. Smartphone apps often have exercise tracking, motivation techniques, calorie trackers and tips. In addition, biofeedback devices such as heart rate monitors (models with chest straps have better accuracy) and pedometers can help guide your exercise plan or help you with motivation.

Note: If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. A cardiac rehab program is a great way to learn the right exercises for you and jump-start your diet and exercise program. If you experience chest pain, pressure, tightness, excessive shortness of breath, lightheadedness or palpitations, stop exercising and consult a doctor.

How to Lower Cholesterol with Diet: MedlinePlus

Limiting salt won't lower your cholesterol, but it can lower your risk of heart diseases by helping to lower your blood pressure. You can reduce your sodium by instead choosing low-salt and "no added salt" foods and seasonings at the table or while cooking. Limit alcohol. Alcohol adds extra calories, which can lead to weight gain. Being overweight can raise your LDL level and lower your HDL ...

URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/howtolowercholesterolwithdiet.html

Also called: Low Cholesterol Diet, Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes Diet, TLC Diet

Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if you have too much in your blood, it can stick to the walls of your arteries and narrow or even block them. This puts you at risk for coronary artery disease and other heart diseases.

Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. One type, LDL, is sometimes called the "bad" cholesterol. A high LDL level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries. Another type, HDL, is sometimes called the "good" cholesterol. It carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Then your liver removes the cholesterol from your body.

What are the treatments for high cholesterol?

The treatments for high cholesterol are heart-healthy lifestyle changes and medicines. The lifestyle changes include healthy eating, weight management, and regular physical activity.

How can I lower cholesterol with diet?

Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a diet to lower your cholesterol. The DASH eating plan is one example. Another is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, which recommends that you

Choose healthier fats.You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35% of your daily calories should come from dietary fats, and less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending upon how many calories you eat per day, here are the maximum amounts of fats that you should eat:


Saturated fat is a bad fat because it raises your LDL (bad cholesterol) level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.

Trans fat is another bad fat; it can raise your LDL and lower you HDL (good cholesterol). Trans fat is mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries.

Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.

Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.

Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include:

  • Whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal and oat bran
  • Fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and prunes
  • Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chick peas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can increase important cholesterol-lowering compounds in your diet. These compounds, called plant stanols or sterols, work like soluble fiber.

Eat fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids won't lower your LDL level, but they may help raise your HDL level. They may also protect your heart from blood clots and inflammation and reduce your risk of heart attack. Fish that are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna (canned or fresh), and mackerel. Try to eat these fish two times a week.

Limit salt. You should try to limit the amount of sodium (salt) that you eat to no more than 2,300 milligrams (about 1 teaspoon of salt) a day. That includes all the sodium you eat, whether it was added in cooking or at the table, or already present in food products. Limiting salt won't lower your cholesterol, but it can lower your risk of heart diseases by helping to lower your blood pressure. You can reduce your sodium by instead choosing low-salt and "no added salt" foods and seasonings at the table or while cooking.

Limit alcohol. Alcohol adds extra calories, which can lead to weight gain. Being overweight can raise your LDL level and lower your HDL level. Too much alcohol can also increase your risk of heart diseases because it can raise your blood pressure and triglyceride level. One drink is a glass of wine, beer, or a small amount of hard liquor, and the recommendation is that:

  • Men should have no more than two drinks containing alcohol a day
  • Women should have no more than one drink containing alcohol a day

Nutrition labels can help you figure out how much fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber, and sodium is in the foods that you buy.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.

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In fact, a research study on dry January concluded that after just five weeks of abstaining from alcohol, participants lost an average of 20 points from their blood cholesterol. Twenty points! Twenty points!

How I Lowered My Cholesterol Without Drugs

As you can see from the table, my numbers gradually trended downwards. I was able to lower them without statins or any other drugs. Just lifestyle changes. These included nutrition specifically targeted at lowering cholesterol and exercise. Let's look at nutrition first.

Simon has a degree in Life Science and lived experience with mental illness and side effects of psychotropic drugs.

Mixed Berries

Mixed Berries

Simon Lam

Lifestyle Factors That Helped Decrease My Blood Lipids

High blood lipids put you at risk for cardiovascular disease. Since being on an antipsychotic for schizophrenia in 2014, my lipids levels were sky-high. Gradually, I was able to lower my numbers without taking any statins.

A combination of diet and exercise helped me to bring my numbers down to healthy levels. I made sure that I ate all the foods that are known to lower cholesterol. These included soluble fibre like psyllium husk, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables as well as nuts and seeds. I also drank soy milk and added it to my morning oatmeal. As for exercise, I worked out 5 times a week. Four of those sessions comprised of strength training with a bit of HIIT. For the fifth session, done just before the blood test, I did two rounds of HIIT. The right diet and exercise regime did wonders for my blood lipid levels.

You're right in thinking that it takes a lot of work and discipline to bring blood lipids down. But all the of your effort will be well worth it in the end.

What are Lipids?

Blood lipids are fatty substances found in your blood. They include triglycerides and cholesterol. Because they do not dissolve in water, they are carried in fat/protein particles called lipoproteins. There are a number of lipoproteins. The ones we measure are called High Density Lipoprotein or HDL and Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL. HDL is often referred to as the "good" cholesterol because they ferry cholesterol from the rest of your body back to your liver for disposal. LDL is the "bad" cholesterol as it carries the cholesterol to your cells and can deposit them in your blood vessels.

Why Should I Care About High Lipids?

High lipids, whether it be elevated triglycerides or cholesterol, are well-known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Excess cholesterol can be deposited and accumulated on your blood vessels, for instance, your coronary arteries or vessels to your heart. When this happens it can lead to the formation of a plaque. The plaque can narrow your vessels. It can also rupture and lead to a blood clot. This blood clot can block your artery, causing a heart attack or stroke.

My Case

In my late twenties, I suffered from my first episode of psychosis due to overwhelming stress from trying to complete a PhD degree. It was so severe I was hospitalized for two weeks. I later quit my graduate studies and was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

I now take Invega Trinza, a tri-monthly antipsychotic injection, for my mental illness. It has been over 7 years since I have been on this drug and it seems to help prevent another relapse.

However, this antipsychotic has come with many side effects, including weight gain and increase blood lipids. After taking the drug, I gained 30 lbs and my lipids were quite high (see table below). I have managed to lose most of this weight through diet and exercise. My cholesterol numbers also improved, but were still pretty high. Recent changes in my diet and exercise routine have helped me get my numbers back down to normal.

My Blood Lipid Levels (mmol/L) Over the Years

Oct 16, 2014Aug 24 2017Dec 19 2019Nov 26 2020May 6 2021

Triglycerides ( <1.7mmol/L or <150 mg/dL)

1.97

1.61

1.12

0.84

0.74

Cholesterol ( <5.2mmol/L or <200 mg/dL)

7.06

7.09

6.3

5.45

4.99

HDL Cholesterol ( >1.5mmol/L or > 60 mg/dL)

1.18

1.23

1.46

1.61

1.63

LDL Cholesterol ( <3.5mmol/L or < 100-129 mg/dL)

4.98

5.13

4.33

3.46

3.02

How I Reduce My Numbers

As you can see from the table, my numbers gradually trended downwards. I was able to lower them without statins or any other drugs. Just lifestyle changes. These included nutrition specifically targeted at lowering cholesterol and exercise.

Let's look at nutrition first. In my reducing-cholesterol-with-food article (https://caloriebee.com/diets/Foods-that-lower-LDL-cholesterol), you will that there are certain foods that can lower cholesterol. These include soluble fibre such as psyllium and other fibres from fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. Nuts are special in that they also have additional components that help lower cholesterol besides fibre. These include unsaturated fats and plant sterols. Soy is another food that I consume that can reduce cholesterol. You can see in my food intake (below) that I have included many of these foods throughout the day.

The restriction of food also helped me lower my cholesterol and weight. I practice intermittent fasting. I eat for 10 hours during the day and fast for the remaining 14 hours. I stop eating at 5:00 pm and break the fast at 7:00 am the next morning.

The other important component that helped me decrease cholesterol was exercise. I workout 5 times a week. For 4 of those days, I combine resistance or strength training with cardio afterwards. The cardio that I do is HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training. I only do one short round of HIIT during the 4 combination days. Then on the other day, I do two rounds of HIIT without strength training.

Fresh Fruits

Fresh Fruits

Simon Lam

Nutrition

Below you will find a complete listing of all the food I ate the day before my blood work.

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal with 1 1/2 tbsp almond butter, 3 dates, 1 heaping tbsp flaxseed, 1 tbsp of hemp seed, chia seeds and cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1 banana and about 1/2 cup of soy milk
  • 1 cup of green tea
  • Some water
  • Snack

Apple

  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1 cup green tea
  • Some water

Lunch

  • Rotisserie chicken, vegetable (bell pepper, carrots, onion) and kidney bean stir fry, with a very small amount of rice (1 tbsp)
  • Orange
  • 1 cup of water with 2 tsp of psyllium husk
  • 1 cup of green tea
  • Some water
  • Snack
  • About 1/2 cup of frozen mix berries
  • 1/4 cup of soy milk
  • 1 cup of green tea
  • Some water

Dinner

  • Baked salmon with salad (spinach, cucumber, red onion) with 1 tbsp rice
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple
  • Handful of walnuts
  • 1 cup of water with 2 tsp psyllium husk
  • 1 cup water
Psyllium

Psyllium

Simon Lam

Walnuts

Walnuts

Simon Lam

Exercise

The day before my blood test I did my usual workout. I started out with a warm-up of walking, jogging and dynamic stretches. I then exercised my upper body, doing 6 exercises, one exercise per body part. These include chest flys, one-arm rows, pullovers, lateral raises, bicep curls and skull crushers. All these are performed with dumbbells. I then did a short session of HIIT. I did 30 seconds of intense activity and 30 seconds of rest. The exercises included squats, dumbbell swings, squat to press, skier swings, cross-body punches, mountain climbers, seal jacks, plyo sprinter lunges, split squat jumps, skip jumping, push-ups. I walked for 5 minutes to cool down.

On the morning just before I go for my test, I did two rounds of HIIT. Each round consisted of squats, sumo squats, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, plyo sprinter lunges, squat jumps, split squat jumps, alternating one leg deadlift, leg raises or bicycle crunches. I finished my session with a 5-minute walk.

Spinach

Spinach

Simon Lam

Blood Cholesterol, Blood Lipids and Heart Health. https://uhs.umich.edu/cholesterol

Your Blood Lipids. https://dtc.ucsf.edu/living-with-diabetes/diet-and-nutrition/understanding-fats-oils/your-blood-lipids/

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Simon Lam

7 Simple Ways To Naturally Lower Cholesterol Levels

To lower cholesterol naturally, avoiding excessive drinking is a good start. In terms of lower cholesterol, alcohol consumption is a mix: it’s linked to lower LDL and HDL levels. Alcohol can also lead to weight gain, which would affect your cholesterol level as well! It is recommended that you limit yourself to one drink per day if you are over 65. If not, keep the intake to two drinks or ...

naturally lower cholesterol

What is cholesterol and how do you lower cholesterol without taking drugs prescribed from your doctor?

Cholesterol, a waxy substance that the body uses to make hormones and other important substances. It’s also found in some foods such as eggs, meat, poultry, and whole-milk dairy products.

The level of cholesterol in your blood is called “blood cholesterol.” If it’s too high over time, you may develop heart disease or stroke.

We have all heard that having a high cholesterol level can lead to many life-threatening conditions, but did you know that there is good and bad cholesterol?

The good cholesterol is called HDL Cholesterol, while the bad is called LDL Cholesterol.

What is HDL Cholesterol versus LDL Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is important for the body because it helps make the hormones and other substances that help regulate important body functions. HDL cholesterol is good for your heart because it helps lower bad LDL cholesterol in the blood.

HDL removes excess amounts of LDL from cells while also reducing inflammation in the arteries, which may cause atherosclerosis or hardening (stiffness) of artery walls.

On the other hand, LDL Cholesterol clogs up arteries over time by increasing plaque formation with its deposits; this leads to high-risk factors such as increased chances of stroke, heart attack, angina, and vascular dementia, among others.

The level of cholesterol in your bloodstream is called “blood lipid levels.” High levels can lead to coronary disease and strokes if not managed well.

Since HDL has a positive effect on lowering LDL levels, if we have more of this good kind (the higher our level), that’s better for us!

What are the negative effects on the body from high LDL cholesterol levels?

There are many illnesses and health concerns that stem from having high total cholesterol levels.

Some health conditions that can be triggered by high cholesterol include:

  • Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries and vascular dementia, which can lower brain function.
  • Increased risk of heart disease and strokes from plaque buildup on artery walls.
  • Angina – chest pain that is a result of atherosclerosis restricting blood flow to the heart muscle.
  • Peripheral Vascular Disease
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • High blood pressure

And that is to name a few.

Different ways for lowering cholesterol

There are four major ways people lower their bad cholesterol: diet, exercise, supplements, and medications. The first three methods have no side effects while lowering LDL, but all will take time to work effectively, so patience is key!

Here we will break down seven completely natural ways that you can help lower your cholesterol levels.

1. Avoid Trans Fats

Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been modified by a process called hydrogenation to make them more stable when used as an ingredient.

Margarine and shortenings usually contain partially hydrogenated oils.

One of the best ways to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol is by eating less food containing these trans fats. The lower your LDL cholesterol, the lower risk you have of developing cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Some examples of foods that are high in trans fats are :

  • Fried foods and packaged snacks, such as chips
  • Stick margarine, oils, or butter that are solid at room temperature
  • Processed meats like bacon (chicken fried in a pan)
  • Cream cheese made with hydrogenated oil. Avoid any type of cream cheese where the ingredients list contains “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on it!

Trans fats lower HDL cholesterol levels, which is good for your heart because lower levels mean less bad LDL cholesterol circulating in your body.

This is why you should cut down on food items containing these trans fats to lower cardiovascular disease risks.

Some tips and tricks to replace trans fatty foods with healthier ones are:

  • Use olive, canola, and avocado oils for cooking
  • Eat brown rice instead of white rice
  • Low-fat bacon such as turkey bacon

2. Try the Mediterranean diet

One of the best ways to decrease levels of LDL cholesterol is through your diet! A common diet that is recommended when trying to lower LDL cholesterol is the Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean diet is a diet that is high in fat due to the lower consumption of sugar and meat.

Foods like nuts, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables are at their highest levels when eating a Mediterranean diet which means you’re less likely to have an increased cholesterol level.

People who eat this way also tend to lose weight over time because they are not consuming as many calories from sugars or fats since they get most of those essential nutrients through foods rich in protein and fiber.

Eating more healthy fats by including avocados with every meal will lower your risk for heart disease along with lowering LDL cholesterol levels! Avocado lovers can rejoice knowing that guacamole isn’t just tasty, but it’s good for them too!

Mediterranean diets are commonly consumed in some of the healthiest places in the world called the Blue Zones.

Here is the typical Mediterranean diet pyramid:

3. Eat more soluble fiber with whole grains

One way to lower your LDL (bad) Cholesterol is by eating more soluble fiber with whole grains. There can be both good and bad types of dietary fibers-soluble or insoluble.

Good sources for this kind of fiber include Oatmeal, Green peas, lentils, beans, barley, and blackberries!

Insoluble fibers are the opposite because they do not dissolve in water; these come from broccoli and cauliflower, which lower blood sugar levels over time like soluble fibers.

Soluble fiber is especially important for lowering LDL cholesterol levels because soluble fibers lower the amount of “bad” cholesterol that you absorb in your intestines.

Soluble fiber also helps lower blood sugar and insulin levels; this is important for those who are diabetic so they can control their disease better with diet changes!

It’s best to consume a mix of both types of fiber to get all the benefits needed from them without any drawbacks!

Here are some food sources: Oatmeal, beans, peas, lentils, and barley. These foods contain more than just good vitamins; but they will help lower bad cholesterol as well.

Both kinds help lower LDL cholesterol by slowing down digestion to remain exposed to high amounts of bile acids for too long.

4. Increase movement in your daily tasks

Every doctor’s first two advice when addressing lowering cholesterol levels is to improve their diet and exercise more.

Increasing your daily activity and exercising more can lower your LDL cholesterol levels by increasing the rate at which cells break down bad fats and releasing blood sugar into the bloodstream.

If you are looking for a new way to get more exercise, try out some of these options that will make it easier on your joints:

– Walking or running in place while watching T.V.

– Doing yoga poses during commercials when watching television

– Perform wall pushups against our office walls whenever we need a breather from working hard! This also helps with improving posture and strengthening muscles around the chest area.

Walking is one of my favorite ways to lower LDL cholesterol because it’s an easy activity that can be done all day long! One hour of walking burns about 100 calories which means you’re on the right track.

5. Try taking Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is a naturally occurring compound that helps lower LDL cholesterol in the body.

This is because they help reduce inflammation and blood pressure which can lower your risk for heart disease over time.

Studies show that taking Coenzyme Q-CoQ (pronounced kyoo, like quiche) pills may lower LDL cholesterol levels by up to 15%. The best part about this supplement is it does not have any side effects unless you are allergic to seafood!

This is one of many supplements created from natural sources as well, so be sure to speak with a doctor before beginning any new medication or supplementation regimen.

6. Increase Omega-3 intake

Omega-3 is a great supplement for lowering cholesterol levels.

Eating fatty fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Saturated fat is linked to lower HDL, high blood pressure.

More than two servings of fish per week may lower your risk for heart disease and stroke by 30%. You should eat different kinds of seafood because some types are better sources than others.

Omega-three supplements can be taken in addition to eating seafood or as a replacement if you don’t like it (and they come from plant sources, too!). Other healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, eggs, and olive oil boost omega-23 levels within our bodies!

Omega 3 fatty acids are good for lower LDL cholesterol levels. Omega-three supplements can be taken in addition to eating seafood or as a replacement if you don’t like it (and they come from plant sources, too!). Other healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, eggs, and olive oil boost omega-3 levels within our bodies!

If you are looking for a great way to ensure you reach your Omega-3 Fatty acid intake levels for the day, I recommend the following link! Get my Omegas!

7. Limit alcohol intake

To lower cholesterol naturally, avoiding excessive drinking is a good start.

In terms of lower cholesterol, alcohol consumption is a mix: it’s linked to lower LDL and HDL levels.

Alcohol can also lead to weight gain, which would affect your cholesterol level as well!

It is recommended that you limit yourself to one drink per day if you are over 65. If not, keep the intake to two drinks or less per week for men and one drink or less each week for women to lower cholesterol naturally.

Drinking excessive amounts should be avoided when seeking healthy ways to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. 

Try limiting yourself to just one drink per day if older than 65 and only two drinks maximum weekly for those younger than this age.

Conclusion:

Cholesterol is a needed substance in our bodies, but too much leads to serious medical effects.

This article highlights some of the ways we can lower it naturally while still living healthy lifestyles. Through easy exercises (e.g., wall pushups), dietary supplements (i.e., Coenzyme Q-CoQs, omega 3 fatty acids, etc.), and limiting alcohol intake, among other behaviors that promote cardiovascular wellness over time without side effects or risks of drug treatments with unknown outcomes on long term health.

Remember, always consult with a medical professional if you have any concerns over high cholesterol levels or your health.

F.A.Q.

What is a normal cholesterol level?

Total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered desirable for adults.

What are the warning signs of high cholesterol?

The warning signs of high cholesterol include :

  • angina, chest pain.
  • Nausea.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, upper abdomen, or back.
  • Numbness or coldness in your extremities.

Can high cholesterol be cured?

Yes, high cholesterol can be cured. This is done through lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, supplements, and medications.

Can you live long with high cholesterol?

The answer to whether or not you can live long with high cholesterol is absolutely yes. However, the longevity of life is much less common as countless health risks, and concerns can be expected.

How to Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

Ideal cholesterol levels are generally the same for all adults, Khera says. That means: • Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL. • LDL (bad) cholesterol below 100 mg/dL.

The groups recommend that you consider a moderate-intensity statin if you’re under 75 and have an LDL above 70 mg/dL and some risk of CVD with atherosclerosis. But plenty of adults with LDL in that range and no other CVD risks may be able to bring their cholesterol in line with lifestyle changes alone, Hochman says.

A calculator that assesses your 10-year risk of a heart attack or stroke, such as the AHA’s risk calculator, may be a starting point for discussing options with your doctor. They’re essentially questionnaires that use your age, race, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and health and smoking history to estimate your risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next decade. The results can help you and your doctor determine whether you should start taking cholesterol drugs.

The ideal result is below 7.5 percent. If yours is intermediate (7.5 to 19.9 percent), “weigh other factors, such as a family history of heart disease and personal preference,” says Adam Cifu, MD, a professor of medicine at UChicago Medicine.

But these calculators aren’t foolproof. A 2018 analysis found that they may overestimate risk by up to 20 percent, and even more for Black people. And research published recently in the journal Circulation suggests that the tools may underestimate the risk for people of South Asian background. Plus, they aren’t always accurate for people over the age of 75, Cifu says. That’s why he generally advises that his patients, especially those who are over age 75, use the results only as a guide.

Another option to gauge your risk is a coronary artery calcium scan, which can reveal how much calcified plaque has built up in your arteries. “If yours is very low for your age, you don’t need to be treated,” says Khera, co-author of the 2019 ACC-AHA guidelines on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. And if you start taking a statin and find it intolerable—you have muscle aches that make it tough to exercise, for instance—ask your doctor about a lower dose or taking the statin every other day or twice a week, says Nieca Goldberg, MD, a cardiologist at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “In these cases, we often combine statins with other cholesterol medications, such as ezetimibe [Zetia],” she says. And newer self-injectable drugs known as PCSK9 inhibitors may sometimes be more effective than statins. But they’re not always covered by insurance.

Finally, remember that you’re a key part of the decision-making, whether it’s to stick with lifestyle changes or add medication. “At the end of the day,” Hochman says, “it’s an individual decision.”

4 Simple Ways to Lower Your LDL Cholesterol

Having high LDL levels could contribute to heart disease. Fortunately, you can take steps to lower your LDL.

It's not called the "bad cholesterol" for nothing.

Having untreated high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can place you at risk for heart disease and stroke if it becomes trapped in your arteries and turns to plaque.

The good news is that, unlike other risk factors, you may be able to prevent high LDL levels or lower your LDL levels if they are already high.

Many cholesterol medications can lower LDL levels. But your healthcare provider may advise you to try therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLC) to see how low your LDL can go before putting you on medication.

Whether you want to lower your LDL or prevent it from increasing, following a few tips can help you keep it within a healthy range.

This article explains how following a sensible diet, losing extra weight, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and drinking in moderation can put "bad cholesterol" in its place.

Verywell / JR Bee

Being overweight or obese not only places you at risk for developing high LDL levels, it can also contribute to heart disease and other chronic medical conditions. Research shows that losing even a small amount of weight (less than five pounds) may help lower your LDL levels.

Eating right can help your heart health, too. Foods high in soluble fiber and phytosterols and healthy fats like olive oil have been found to help lower LDL cholesterol.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute notes that it's possible to reduce your LDL by between 20% and 30% with a few simple changes:

  • Allowing less than 7% of calories to be from saturated fats can reduce LDL by between 8% and 10%.
  • Decreasing daily cholesterol intake to less than 200 milligrams can lower LDL by between 5% and 8%.
  • Losing 10 pounds can reduce your LDL by between 5% and 8%.
  • Adding 5 grams to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day can decrease LDL by between 3% and 5%.
  • Adding 2 daily grams of plant sterols can reduce LDL by between 5% and 15%.

It's possible for LDL cholesterol to eventually return to original levels, even when you lose weight and maintain it. Nonetheless, the benefits make weight maintenance and good nutrition worthy goals to pursue.

Exercise is not only good for losing weight, but moderate amounts of it may also help lower your LDL cholesterol.

Aerobic exercises, such as running, cycling, jogging, and swimming, appear to stand the best chance at lowering LDL while reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Other forms of exercise, such as yoga, walking, and weight-bearing exercises have been shown to modestly decrease LDL levels. However, these activities have not been studied to the same extent as aerobic exercise.

Cigarette smoking is linked to higher cholesterol levels as well as the formation of a damaging form of LDL called oxidized LDL, which contributes to atherosclerosis.

Research has shown that cholesterol levels drop as soon as you stop smoking. With each month after quitting, LDL levels drop even more. After 90 days, the effects of smoking on cholesterol can be reversed even more.

Although "moderate" consumption of alcohol can raise high-density lipoproteins (HDL) levels, it can also lower LDL, according to studies. The "good" HDL lipoproteins absorb cholesterol and carry it back to the liver before the liver ushers it out of the body.

Moderate consumption means one serving a day for women and one to two servings per day for men. (A serving is 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine.)

However, drinking more alcohol doesn’t necessarily equal better results in terms of improving your heart health. Studies have also indicated that drinking more than three alcoholic drinks a day could actually increase your chances of developing heart disease.

Medication isn't the only way to lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. Eating right, losing weight, exercising, quitting smoking, and drinking only moderate amounts of alcohol can lower your "bad cholesterol" levels. Physicians tend to focus on LDLs because they can put you at risk for heart disease and stroke if they build up in your arteries.

As hopeful as you might feel about lowering you LDL levels, remember your baseline, or where you're starting from. In other words, while these proactive steps may make a difference, they not be enough. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider's recommendations regarding the best ways to treat your high cholesterol.

Turn to our Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide below to help start that conversation.

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Thanks for your feedback!

What are your concerns?

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. LDL and HDL cholesterol: "Bad" and "good" cholesterol.

  2. Ooi EM, Lichtenstein AH, Millar JS, et al. Effects of therapeutic lifestyle change diets high and low in dietary fish-derived FAs on lipoprotein metabolism in middle-aged and elderly subjects. J Lipid Res. 2012;53(9):1958–1967. doi:10.1194/jlr.P024315

  3. UC San Diego Health. Cholesterol levels improve with weight loss and healthy fat-rich diet.

  4. Le T, Flatt SW, Natarajan L, et al. Effects of diet composition and insulin resistance status on plasma lipid levels in a weight loss intervention in women. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016;5(1). doi:10.1161/JAHA.115.002771

  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Your guide to lowering cholesterol with TLC.

  6. Yunsuk K, Park J, Carter R. Oxidized low-density lipoprotein and cell adhesion molecules following exercise training. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 2017. doi:10.1055/s-0043-118848.

  7. Zhou MS, Chadipiralla K, Mendez AJ, et al. Nicotine potentiates proatherogenic effects of oxLDL by stimulating and upregulating macrophage CD36 signaling. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013;305(4):H563-74. doi:10.1152/ajpheart.00042.2013

  8. Zhang Y, Chen L, Feng C, et al. ASSA 14-13-01 cigarette smoking-induced LDL dysfunction is partially reversible after smoking cessation. Heart. 2015;101:A40–A41. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2014-307109.107

  9. Tabara Y, et al. Mendelian randomization analysis in three japanese populartions supports a casual role of alcohol consumption in lowering low-density cholesterol levels and particle numbers. Atherosclerosis. 2016;254:242–248. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2016.08.021

How I Lowered My Cholesterol 50 Points in 3 Months ...

10-01-2017 · I asked my doctor if I could have 6 months to try to lower my cholesterol naturally. He gave me 3. This is how I did it. Lower your cholesterol without meds. I had heard from various friends and family members that I should just go on medication for my cholesterol since I’m not (too) overweight, go to the gym regularly, and my diet doesn’t seem to be a factor (I don’t eat red meat or ...

10-01-2017

I'm proof that you don't necessarily need meds to lower your cholesterol. Find out how I lowered my cholesterol 50 points NATURALLY!A few months ago, after a regular check-up, my doctor called to tell me that I had high cholesterol, something that I know runs in my family. He immediately wanted to put me on meds, but I was hesitant, having heard about myriad side effects from cholesterol-lowering drugs. I asked my doctor if I could have 6 months to try to lower my cholesterol naturally. He gave me 3. This is how I did it.

Lower your cholesterol without meds.

I had heard from various friends and family members that I should just go on medication for my cholesterol since I’m not (too) overweight, go to the gym regularly, and my diet doesn’t seem to be a factor (I don’t eat red meat or cheese). I was told that my cholesterol was high because of my age and my family history. Still, I was determined to give it my best shot.

As you read, keep in mind that I’m not a doctor, just a person who did her research – and had success. Nothing written here should be construed as medical advice. When in doubt, consult your physician.

Here was my strategy. First, I added:

Supplements.

Cholestoff. The nurse practitioner in my doctor’s office recommended Cholestoff to me. This was a game changer. Made entirely of plant sterols and stanals, which are proven to reduce dietary cholesterol. 2 pills twice a day works like gangbusters. You can find a big, economy-sized bottle at Costco. If you take these pills religiously, you will see your cholesterol drop. Please note: For those who have trouble swallowing pills, these are rather large.

unnamed-11

Red Yeast Rice pills. These are another natural supplement that I was also able to find at Costco. In Chinese medicine, red yeast rice is used to lower cholesterol, improve blood circulation, and improve digestion. Red yeast rice contains chemicals that are similar to prescription statin medications.

unnamed-7

Resveratrol pills. Actually, my doctor recommended red wine, which contains resveratrol naturally, but I like white wine, not red. I decided on Resveratrol pills instead and found these at Costco. According to the Mayo Clinic, resveratrol antioxidants may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and protect against cholesterol buildup.

unnamed-10

Additional supplements: I also added CoQ10 and fish oil pills daily, both of which have been found to help lower cholesterol naturally.

Foods: The “Yes” List.

Some great foods for lowering your cholesterol are:

  • Salmon
  • Nuts
  • Oatmeal
  • Dark chocolate
  • Beans (kidney, navy, pinto, black, chickpea or butter beans)

I did my best to try to eat these frequently, if not every day. Note: Not all oatmeal is created equal. Look for the less-sugary, natural brands. Also: Nuts can be very fattening, so don’t go crazy! And as for chocolate, a tiny taste is best. I found Trader Joe’s Dark Cacoa Nibs to be just what the doctor ordered. And eating a cup of any type of beans a day can lower cholesterol by as much as 10% in 6 weeks.

nibsc

For liquids, choose:

  • Green tea
  • Dark grape juice
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Blueberry juice
  • Red wine

Green tea, if consumed plain, has zero calories, but the others do not, so moderation is key if you’re worried about weight gain.

Foods: The “No” List.

  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Ice cream
  • Meats (eat less of these)
  • Fried foods

Suggestions: The more you can eat plant-based foods, the better. Try to reign in dairy and meat consumption. Even chicken and turkey contain cholesterol, not just red meats. Opt for margarine instead of butter. Egg whites or Egg Replacer instead of eggs. Cut back on foods like pizza.

What else can you do?

Start reading labels. Try to choose foods with zero cholesterol. For instance, 1 cup of lobster bisque soup has 100 mg of cholesterol whereas creamy butternut squash soup made without butter has 0 mg cholesterol.

Eat at home to control your ingredients. But if you plan on eating out, ask for a nutrition guide! This is a must because you can’t just “guess” that an El Torito Grilled Chicken Quesadilla has 481 mgs of cholesterol. If the restaurant’s nutrition guide doesn’t include cholesterol, go somewhere else!

Exercise is helpful. But you already knew this.

Weight loss helps. Easier said than done. (I think I actually gained weight, due to binging on nuts.)

Stick to it!

Lowering your cholesterol is not hard if you are willing to adjust your diet and take your supplements. If your New Year’s Resolution is to lower your cholesterol, this “diet” is something you can stick to and see results. I am living proof! After 3 months, I took another blood test and my doctor told me that my cholesterol was normal and I didn’t need to go on meds. After a few slip-ups over Christmas (it’s hard to stay on any diet during the holidays!), I am back to taking my supplements and doing my best to eat well so that my cholesterol levels don’t spike again.

Do you have high cholesterol?

cholesterol-2

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health.harvard.edu

For example, if you are a fan of cheeseburgers, eating less meat (and leaner cuts) and more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can lower your total cholesterol by 25% or more. Cutting back on saturated fat (found in meat and dairy products) and trans fat (partially hydrogenated oils) can reduce cholesterol by 5% to 10%.

How to Reduce Your Cholesterol Without Medication

19-03-2021 · If you have mild or moderately high cholesterol, you may be able to lower it without medication. We’ll discuss strategies you can try at home to bring down your cholesterol numbers.

19-03-2021

If you just found out that you have high cholesterol, you might be wondering what your options are to lower it.

Cholesterol can be lowered using prescription medication, which is often the first-line recommended treatment. Extremely high cholesterol needs to be addressed with a prescription treatment plan as soon as possible.

However, if your cholesterol is considered mildly or moderately high, you may be able to lower it without medication. This article will explain the strategies you can try at home to bring down your cholesterol numbers.

It’s normal to want to try to control cholesterol with lifestyle choices, diet, and supplements as the first line of treatment rather than starting medication.

Steps you can take to lower your cholesterol without medication include the following six tips:

1. Avoid trans and saturated fats

Eating foods that contain saturated or trans fats can increase your cholesterol level. The American Heart Association recommends reducing saturated fat intake to less than 6 percent of your daily calories.

2. Eat lots of soluble fiber

Upping your daily intake of soluble fiber can decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Taking psyllium supplements and eating oatmeal for breakfast are easy ways to increase the amount of soluble fiber you consume every day. You can also load up on fruits and veggies to get that fiber intake even higher.

3. Exercise

If you’re considered medically overweight, your chances of having high cholesterol increase. But it’s also important to mention that the idea that thin people can’t have high cholesterol is a misconception.

Cardiovascular exercise can help to keep your weight at a healthy range and can also boost your heart health. Walking, jogging, biking, and swimming are all exercises that can help lower cholesterol, especially if you do them three times per week or more.

4. Cut down on your alcohol intake

When you drink alcohol, your liver breaks it down into triglycerides and cholesterol in your body. Alcohol consumption can also raise your blood pressure and make it harder to keep your weight in a healthy range.

Cutting down on beer, wine, and liquor can be a simple first step to lowering your cholesterol.

5. Try fish oil supplements

Fish oil supplements contain omega 3-chain fatty acids. These acids may help lower triglycerides, although research is mixed. Taking fish oil may not directly lower LDL, but it can have other benefits, such as lowering inflammation in your body.

6. Take a garlic supplement

There’s some evidence to suggest that taking garlic supplements can moderately reduce LDL cholesterol.

As early as 2000, research suggested that garlic may help to reduce your body’s absorption of cholesterol and lower triglycerides in your blood. But more research is needed to definitively understand how garlic is linked to lower cholesterol levels.

You can find garlic supplements at any health food store or simply start using more raw garlic in your cooking at home.

You might not want to take medication to bring your cholesterol down for several reasons.

Statins are a type of medication used to manage high cholesterol. The side effects of statins may be seen by some as worse than the risks of having high cholesterol. These side effects can include:

  • muscle pain
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • sluggish digestion
  • low blood platelet count

Statin use may also lead you to develop other conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. If you’re already at a higher risk for developing these types of conditions, you may want to talk with a healthcare professional about avoiding statins if possible.

There aren’t any specific symptoms to indicate that you might have high cholesterol. Many people with high cholesterol don’t know that they have it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should get your cholesterol levels checked:

  • every 5 years after you turn age 20
  • more often if you have a family history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular conditions

Cholesterol is made by your liver. It’s a waxy substance that your body uses to build cells, among other processes.

Eating fatty foods and oils can cause your liver to make extra cholesterol. It can also come from the meat and dairy products in your diet.

When you have a cholesterol screening, the levels of two types of cholesterol will be reported in your results: LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol is what’s known as “bad” cholesterol. High LDL can also be linked to high triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood that comes from your diet.

If you have too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up into a hard, waxy substance in your arteries, called plaque. When this happens, your arteries become narrow and less flexible.

High cholesterol is one of the biggest risk factors for cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease and stroke. But while HDL cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol, and not having enough of it can be a problem, too.

If you have high cholesterol, chances are that lifestyle changes can make a big difference in bringing it down. Diet and exercise can lower your cholesterol by about 20 to 30 percent.

If home remedies, diet, and exercise aren’t enough to get your LDL cholesterol to a safe level, medication is the next step in keeping your heart healthy. Medication can bring your cholesterol down even further, if needed.

Any treatment plan for cholesterol management should be made in partnership with a healthcare professional. A doctor who knows your family history and your personal health history will be able to advise you on the best treatments for your situation.

5 Tactics To Reduce Cholesterol Quickly

09-10-2018 · Rather than raising blood cholesterol levels, as animal sources of protein do, beans actually help lower cholesterol. Beans also help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, and may even lower cancer risk. When choosing products made from soybeans, stick to: Soybeans (available in most grocery store freezer sections, often described as edamame) Soymilk . vanilla, original, or unsweetened. Tofu ...

09-10-2018

For most of us, there's really no need to pack our medicine cabinets with pills to reduce cholesterol levels. Natural, lifestyle-based strategies have proven extraordinarily effective in reducing cholesterol quickly and permanently.

Get the top 5 food and fitness tips recommended by the doctors, dietitians, exercise experts, and other faculty at the Pritikin Longevity Center. Pritikin has been helping people lower cholesterol levels since 1975.

Did you know that for every 10% drop in your cholesterol level, your heart attack risk drops by 20% to 30%? There’s more good news: Most of us can reduce cholesterol quickly, and without the need for medications. Simple lifestyle strategies can be very powerful.

That’s what several studies on thousands following the Pritikin Program of diet and exercise have found. Within three weeks, people were able to lower their cholesterol levels on average 23%, which translates into a 46% to 69% drop in heart attack risk.1

The 5 key lifestyle-change tactics discussed in greater detail below are taught by the physicians, registered dietitians, exercise physiologists, and other faculty at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami for fast, significant lowering of cholesterol levels, particularly LDL bad cholesterol.

If you’re serious about lowering your cholesterol and taking good care of your heart, these 5 tactics are a great place to start. They’ll also help you shed excess weight, which will also improve heart health.

Our typical American diet is now abbreviated as SAD (Standard American Diet) by scientists nationwide because it’s full of foods that do sad things to both hearts and waistlines. Hyperprocessed foods like potato chips and French fries. Sugar-saturated drinks. And fatty, artery-clogging meats and full-fat dairy foods like cheese.

We don’t have to become complete vegetarians to get our cholesterol levels into healthy ranges, studies on the Pritikin Program have found, but clearly, the more vegetables, fruits, potatoes, and other naturally-fiber-rich plant foods we eat, the healthier we’ll be.

Plant foods high in soluble fiber are especially beneficial in lowering total and LDL bad cholesterol levels. Good sources include beans (pinto beans, black beans, etc), yams, oats (yes, eat your oatmeal!), barley, and berries.

For simple tips on bringing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans into your life, here is a 5-day sample healthy meal plan from the doctors and dietitians at Pritikin Longevity Center.

One type of fat – omega-3 fatty acids – has been shown to protect against heart disease. Excellent sources are cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, halibut, trout, herring, and sardines.

But do keep in mind that limiting fat intake, even so-called “good” fats like omega-3 fat or Mediterranean-style fats like olive oil, is a good idea because any fat is dense with calories, which means heavy consumption can easily lead to a heavy body. That’s bad news not just for our weight but our hearts because being overweight adversely affects blood cholesterol levels.

Excess weight is linked not just to heart disease but to a staggering list of other woes, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gout, dementia, and many cancers.

Excellent plant proteins include beans – all beans, like lentils, red beans, pinto beans, and soybeans. Rather than raising blood cholesterol levels, as animal sources of protein do, beans actually help lower cholesterol.

Beans also help reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, and may even lower cancer risk.

All the above are great choices for your cholesterol profile and overall health.

We’re a nation of “white food” eaters – white bread, white rice, white pasta, and white-flour foods like muffins, croissants, bagels, crackers, dried cereals, tortillas, pretzels, and chips. Yes, more than half of many Americans’ typical diets are made up of hyperprocessed refined white flour, often injected with sugar, salt, and/or fat.

That’s a real problem in part because the more white, or refined, grains we eat, the fewer whole grains we tend to take in. Research has found that eating whole grains can help lower both total and LDL cholesterol, and improve heart health.

In Harvard University’s Nurses’ Health Study, for example, women who ate two to three servings of whole-grain products (mostly bread and breakfast cereals) each day were 30% less likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease over a 10-year period than women who ate less than one serving of whole grains per week.2

When first starting to make the switch from refined to whole grains, many people often feel a bit confused. Where to begin? What’s whole? What isn’t?

The registered dietitians at the Pritikin Longevity Center start with one very simple rule. When looking at products like breads and cereals, they recommend turning the package around and making sure the first word in the Ingredient List is “whole.” If you see the word “whole” at the top of the list, it’s a good bet that what you’re buying is in fact 100% whole grain, or close to it.

Another tip for getting more whole grains in your life comes from the chefs at Pritikin, who teach healthy cooking classes every day at the Center. “Expand your culinary horizons. There are many delicious whole-grain choices in just about every grocery store. Get beyond brown rice!” encourages Executive Chef Vincenzo Della Polla.

“Introduce yourself to a whole new world of flavors with whole grains like whole-wheat couscous, polenta (cornmeal), quinoa, wild rice, and kasha.”

The really good news is that many whole grains are surprisingly quick and easy to prepare. Often, all you need is a pot of hot water and a little stirring action.

Here, from Chef Vincenzo Della Polla, is a simple and savory recipe for whole-wheat couscous. Enjoy it for lunch, as a side dish, or as a hearty snack any time of day.

Couscous & Cherry Tomatoes
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Here, from Chef Vincenzo Della Polla, is a simple and savory recipe for whole-wheat couscous. Enjoy it for lunch, as a side dish, or as a hearty snack any time of day.
  1. Lightly mist a medium nonstick saucepan with canola oil spray and pre-heat over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onions to pan and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, garlic, oregano, black pepper, and water to pan, and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower heat and simmer until tomatoes begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, place couscous in medium mixing bowl.
  6. Remove tomato mixture from heat and immediately pour over couscous. Cover and let stand 5 to 8 minutes, until couscous is tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir with fork to fluff before serving.

Regular exercise may only slightly lower your total and LDL cholesterol levels, but it often does a very good job, in combination with a healthy eating plan like Pritikin, of helping you shed excess weight, which can dramatically improve your cholesterol profile.

Just getting out for a 30-minute walk most days of the week is a great start, but for optimal health and protection from cardiovascular disease, the exercise physiologists at the Pritikin Longevity Center coach people in three key forms of exercise:

Aerobic Exercise

Do aerobic exercise daily, a minimum of 30 minutes and optimally 60 to 90 minutes, alternating moderate-intensity days with vigorous-intensity days.

“But don’t think you have to do it all at once,” says Pritikin VP Sales & Fitness Jamie Costello, MSC, MBA. “If you’re pressed for time, something like 15 minutes of brisk walking in the morning, another 15 at lunch, and another 15 after dinner is an excellent alternative.”

Full body resistance

Incorporate a strenght training routine two to three times weekly.

You don’t need high-tech weight machines, guests at Pritikin learn. Simple hand weights or resistance bands can provide a superb full-body workout, and in just 20 to 25 minutes.

Make Flexibility Training Part of Your Strategy to Reduce High Cholesterol

Daily stretching exercise greatly enhance overall flexibility and ability to exercise more freely.

“For stretching, many of our guests really enjoy our yoga classes,” observes Jamie Costello, MSC, MBA. “Yoga is a wonderful way to wind down after cardiovascular and resistance training.”

Concerned about vigorous exercise? Afraid it might be harmful to your heart? Before launching an exercise program, it’s always important to schedule an appointment with your physician to make sure you’re in good shape for cardiovascular workouts. At Pritikin, every guest undergoes treadmill stress testing, plus a 1-hour consultation with one of Pritikin’s board-certified physicians, before starting exercise classes.

If making healthy changes on your own has been a challenge, it may be time to bring in the professionals! Our team of physicians, nutritionists, exercise experts, psychologists, and chefs - specialize in helping people just like you reduce medication and take contol of their health. A vacation at Pritikin will change your life!

For best results with a healthy lifestyle, new research has found that plunging right in with both healthy eating and exercising is the way to go.3

The Stanford University School of Medicine study involved 200 middle-aged Americans, all sedentary and with poor eating habits. Some were told to launch new food and fitness habits at the same time. Others began dieting but waited several months before beginning to exercise. A third group started exercising but didn’t change eating habits till several months later.

All the groups received telephone coaching and were followed for one year. The winning group was the one making food and exercise changes together. The people in this group were most likely to meet U.S. guidelines for exercise (150 minutes per week) and healthy eating (5 to 9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day), and to keep calories from saturated fat at less than 10% of their total intake of calories.

For best results with a healthy lifestyle, new research has found that plunging right in with both healthy eating and exercising is the way to go.3

Take medications, if you need to, to lower your cholesterol into healthy ranges. “Drugs like statins can be very effective,” says Dr. Danine Fruge, MD, ABFP - Medical Director at the Pritikin Longevity Center, “but do continue in your efforts to eat well and exercise because a healthy lifestyle can give you far, far more than drugs alone.

“With a healthy living program like Pritikin, you’re not only reducing cholesterol quickly, you’re also creating changes throughout your body that can profoundly improve your overall well-being. You’re reducing blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Other heart disease risk factors like triglyceride fats are also dropping dramatically. You’re also reducing inflammatory factors that sicken arteries. You’re shedding excess weight. And, quite simply, you’re feeling better, much better. Many of our guests at Pritikin tell us, ‘I had no idea I could feel this good again.’

“Can any pill or combination of pills do all of the above? I highly doubt it. But a healthy lifestyle like Pritikin can.”

A stay at Pritikin will change your life.

  • Archives of Internal Medicine, 1991; 151: 1389.
  • American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999; 70 (3): 412.
  • Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2013; published online April 21.
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10 Natural Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol. Written by Sharon Orrange, MD, MPH. October 1, 2015 . The best treatment in diseases such as atherosclerosis, or coronary artery disease, is prevention. Lifestyle changes like exercise, quitting smoking and changing your diet are an important place to start, but sometimes you just need more help. Drugs like the statin medications work well to …