The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that nearly 94 million adults ages 20 and over have high cholesterol. High cholesterol puts you at risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke or heart attack.

People often call high-density lipoprotein (HDL) the “good cholesterol” because it’s associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Low-density lipoprotein (The cholesterol level is low.) is the “bad cholesterol” because it’s associated with a higher risk. Doctors measure both these types of cholesterol to measure your risk of developing heart disease.

Making lifestyle changes may be enough to get your cholesterol into a healthy range. If you’re at a high risk of developing cardiovascular complications, a doctor may recommend taking statins or other medications.

Here are 15 ways to keep your cholesterol levels in check.

What are healthy cholesterol levels?

Doctors commonly measure your Total cholesterol. as well as The cholesterol level is low. and HDL cholesterol to estimate your risk of heart disease. They also commonly measure There are some types of cholesterol., a type of fat found in your blood associated with heart disease.

According to the CDC, optimal cholesterol and triglyceride levels are:

Type Amount in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL)
Total cholesterol about 150 mg/dL
The cholesterol level is low. cholesterol about 100 mg/dL
HDL cholesterol at least 40 mg/dL in men
at least 50 mg/dL in women
Triglycerides less than 150 mg/dL

lifestyle changes alone are enough to get your cholesterol levels into a healthy range Here are some ways to control your cholesterol levels.

1. Exercise regularly

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week for optimal heart health. Examples of moderate activity include:

  • brisk walking
  • gardening
  • Water aerobics.

Regular exercise can also help you maintain a moderate weight. A 2016 study found that people who have overweight or obesity who lost at least 5% to 10% of their body had significant improvements in their:

  • There are some types of cholesterol.
  • The cholesterol level is low.
  • Total cholesterol.

If you’re currently inactive, you might find 150 minutes per week intimidating at first. In a 2018 study, researchers found evidence that even performing less than the recommended 150 minutes may increase heart-healthy HDL cholesterol more than not exercising at all.

There are exercises for lowering cholesterol.

2. Quit smoking

Quitting smoking can benefit many aspects of your health, including lowering your cholesterol. In a 2018 study, researchers found that people who smoked had a:

  • “It’s a higher chance of having low HDL.”
  • 20% higher chance of having high Total cholesterol.
  • 30% higher chance of having high There are some types of cholesterol.

Quitting smoking can greatly decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, but heavy smokers may still be at an elevated risk 5 years after quitting.

Learn how to quit smoking.

3. Consume alcohol in moderation

Low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption are associated with better cardiovascular health, whereas heavy drinking is associated with poorer health. The CDC defines moderate drinking as one drink or less a day for women and two drinks or less a day for men.

In a 2020 study, researchers found that compared with non-heavy drinkers, people who drink heavily are more likely to smoke tobacco, have high blood pressure, and have elevated:

  • Fasting blood sugar.
  • There are some types of cholesterol.
  • The cholesterol level is low.

The researchers found that people who drank wine exclusively had better cardiovascular health than people who drank beer exclusively.

It’s important to note that the AHA doesn’t recommend drinking wine or any other form of alcohol to gain potential health benefits.

There is a connection between alcohol and cholesterol.

Some changes to your diet can help you manage your cholesterol levels.

4. Limit saturated and trans fat

The AHA recommends minimizing saturated and trans fats. These fats are associated with increases in The cholesterol level is low. cholesterol. To lower your intake of these fats, the AHA recommends emphasizing a diet high in:

  • There is fruit.
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • Low fat dairy.
  • poultry
  • There are nuts.
  • fish

Studies have shown that vegetarian diets, like the Portfolio Diet, can effectively lower cholesterol. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that you can replace proteins from high fat meats with protein from plants. The AHA suggests that a plant-based diet could help reduce your cholesterol without using medications.

Learn about the different types of diet for heart health.

5. Cook more at home

The food you cook at restaurants has higher levels of saturated fat and sugar.

There are still several unknowns about the role of sugar on cholesterol levels, but some research suggests diets high in processed sugar are linked to poorer cholesterol levels. For instance, a 2020 study found evidence that substituting the sugars fructose and sucrose for starchy carbs was associated with lower The cholesterol level is low..

The AHA recommends a diet emphasizing fish and poultry and limiting red meats to limit saturated fats. When you do eat meat, here are ways you can lower the saturated fat content:

  • Cut meat and poultry with minimal fat.
  • When cooking, trim all visible fat.
  • Pan fry your meats and Broil them.
  • Chicken and turkey are better than duck and goose.
  • Before cooking, remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Limit processed meats such as hot dogs.

The AHA has a database of heart-healthy recipes to make cooking healthy easy.

6. Add avocado to your diet

In a 2022 study, researchers found that people who had overweight and added one avocado per day to their diet had modest but significant reductions in total and The cholesterol level is low. cholesterol.

Learn about cholesterol and avocados.

7. Eat more soluble fiber

Studies suggest that soluble fibers can help lower The cholesterol level is low. cholesterol levels. Foods high in soluble fiber include:

  • oats
  • There are beans.
  • peas
  • There is fruit.s
  • vegetables

There is a connection between cholesterol and fiber.

Weight loss and cholesterol management

Many of the above lifestyle and dietary changes directly contribute to losing weight. According to the AHA, losing about 5% to 10% of your weight can help reduce your cholesterol levels.

Here is an overview of the drugs used to treat cholesterol levels.

Learn about the drugs used to treat high cholesterol.

8. Statins

Statins are the most prescribed cholesterol medications. They work by decreasing cholesterol production in your liver. Statins are generally very effective at reducing The cholesterol level is low. cholesterol and lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke.

9. Non-statins

A doctor may also recommend non-statin medications such as:

  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitors: Cholesterol absorption inhibitors lower The cholesterol level is low. by preventing your intestines from absorbing The cholesterol level is low.. They’re the most common non-statin used to treat high cholesterol.
  • Bile acid sequestrants: Bile acid sequestrants help your body get rid of The cholesterol level is low. cholesterol. They’re often used together with statins.
  • PCSK9 inhibitors: PCSK9 inhibitors inhibit certain proteins from breaking down The cholesterol level is low. receptors in your liver. This allows your liver to take up more The cholesterol level is low. and break it down so it doesn’t stay in your blood.
  • Adenosine triphosphate-citrate lyase inhibitors: These medications work by blocking the production of cholesterol in your liver. They’re used with statins and lifestyle changes to treat familial heterozygous hypercholesterolemia.
  • Fibrates: Fibrates are especially good at lowering triglyceride levels but can slightly lower The cholesterol level is low. levels as well.

Some supplements can help lower cholesterol. It is important to talk with a doctor before taking supplements.

10. Psyllium fiber supplements

Psyllium is a type of fiber made from husks of Plantago ovata seeds. Some studies suggest that psyllium may lower The cholesterol level is low. cholesterol by 6% to 24%.

You can learn more about psyllium.

11. Fish oil

Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that are linked to increased cardiovascular health. Several studies have found fish oil can increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol. According to the AHA, fish also lowers your triglyceride levels and reduced your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Fish oil is used for cholesterol.

12. Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an antioxidant produced in your body and is found in many foods. A 2018 review found that CoQ10 supplementation may decrease Total cholesterol. and increase HDL cholesterol.

Coenzyme Q10 is a topic to learn more about.

13. Plant sterols

Plant sterols are waxes from plants that may help reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed in your body. Reviews of studies show that 1.5 to 3 grams per day may lower The cholesterol level is low. cholesterol by 7.5% to 12%.

Learn more about the plant sterols.

14. Niacin

Niacin is also called vitamin B3. Some studies have found that niacin supplementation can raise HDL by up to 25%. But two large studies also found that niacin doesn’t decrease the risk of cardiovascular complications and may cause significant side effects.

The benefits of niacin are discussed.

15. Fenugreek

Fenugreek is an herb common in Indian dishes. In a 2020 review, researchers found that fenugreek may significantly improve cholesterol levels, but more high quality studies are needed to confirm its benefits.

Learn more about the person.

Questions for a doctor

If you have high cholesterol, it’s important to visit a doctor regularly so you can monitor your cholesterol over time. Here are some questions that you may want to ask a doctor:

  • What should my cholesterol levels be?
  • Will I need to take medication?
  • What are the side effects of drugs?
  • How often should I have my cholesterol checked?
  • What are the risks of not lowering my cholesterol?
  • How long will it take to lower my cholesterol?

If you need to take medication, you can lower your cholesterol levels with lifestyle habits. Some habits that may lower cholesterol are listed.

  • Increasing your exercise routine.
  • Losing weight if you are overweight.
  • A diet low in saturated and trans fats is what you should be eating.

Some studies show that eating less sugar can help reduce cholesterol.

If you are at high risk of cardiovascular problems, a doctor may prescribe a medication. Side effects can be caused by these medications. It is important to talk with a doctor before taking supplements that may have cholesterol lowering effects.