How do I Reduce Cholesterol?

wiseGEEK Writer

There are several ways to reduce cholesterol when levels that are above optimal readings. Depending upon a doctor’s recommendations, people may take certain forms of medication, but that is usually only part of the work involved. Most people with high cholesterol work to reduce it by changing diet and exercise habits too.

Most vegetables are an excellent source of fiber, which may help reduce cholesterol.
Most vegetables are an excellent source of fiber, which may help reduce cholesterol.

Different medications exist that can help reduce cholesterol levels. These include statins, such as Lipitor® or Zocor®, which helps the liver remove excess cholesterol and may also help the body reabsorb it. Other drugs cause the body to use extra cholesterol to produce more bile acids. Some prescribed medications limit absorption, and a few drugs have several purposes, like limiting absorption and removing cholesterol from the liver at the same time.

Widely viewed as one of the healthiest types of cooking oil, canola oil is high in monounsaturated fats.
Widely viewed as one of the healthiest types of cooking oil, canola oil is high in monounsaturated fats.

Though these medications may reduce cholesterol to a degree, they are usually not completely effective alone. Most doctors stress that lifestyle changes are the best method for reducing cholesterol, though high cholesterol levels are not always linked to things like poor diet or poor exercise habits. However, in the majority of cases, people are likely to reduce cholesterol greatly through recommended lifestyle modifications.

When it comes to diet, foods chosen should not contain partially hydrogenated oils, and people may do best when they choose foods that are low in oil or that contain monounsaturated fats instead. In an optimum diet, saturated fats should make up no more than 10% of daily calorie intake, which may mean cutting back on things like milk fats, eggs, and most meats. These foods also contain dietary cholesterol, and people should aim to consume no more than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol daily, or less if cholesterol is very high and heart disease risk is present.

There are some foods that can help lower cholesterol levels and these include many that are high in dietary fiber. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are preferred for increasing dietary fiber intake and potentially reducing high cholesterol. When people actually eat recommended daily amount of fruits, veggies and grains, they may find that reducing other food sources that are high cholesterol is easier.

Exercise and losing weight when excess weight exists are also vital. Exercising helps to reduce cholesterol, and reducing total weight does the same. Those at high risk for heart disease should get advice from doctors on types and amount of exercise to pursue at first. When people have an all clear from their doctors, they should aim for getting at least thirty minutes of daily exercise.

Smoking and moderate to significant alcohol use are both associated with higher cholesterol levels. People who smoke should stop, as this may be a significant bar to getting cholesterol amounts to safe levels. Though a little bit of alcohol may be heart healthy, anything over two drinks a day for men or one drink a day for women can also negatively impact cholesterol levels.

Substituting monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, in place of butter or margarine may help to reduce bad cholesterol.
Substituting monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, in place of butter or margarine may help to reduce bad cholesterol.

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