Fastest Way to Lower Cholesterol

When the cholesterol in your blood is high, you're more likely to develop a condition known as atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing of the arteries due to the collection of fatty deposits along your arterial walls. This can increase your risk of serious health problems, including coronary artery disease, angina, heart attack and stroke. To counteract these complications, you should take steps to lower your cholesterol. The most effective way to do this is a three-prong approach that incorporates diet, exercise and weight management.

  1. Diet

    • Of all the steps you can take to lower your cholesterol, diet probably is one of the most important and fastest, so switch to a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Eliminate both trans and saturated fats, and limit your intake of dietary cholesterol. To do this, try to keep your total saturated fat below 7 percent of your caloric intake and your dietary cholesterol anywhere between 200 to 300 mg each day.

      As you work to eliminate and reduce your fat and dietary cholesterol, incorporate healthier foods into your diet. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are the best. Spinach, kale, watercress, leeks, onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, legumes, soybeans and artichokes all are ideal vegetables for lowering your cholesterol. Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, apples and citrus can go a long way toward reducing the cholesterol in your blood. Oatmeal, flax and any products made with whole grains are great dietary choices when dealing with high cholesterol.

      However, you don't have to be a vegan to reduce your cholesterol, so feel free to include some dairy, meats and fats into your diet. Stick to low-fat dairy, such as skim milk, yogurt and reduced-fat cheese. Eat lean meats and fish; try chicken, salmon, trout, mackerel, herring and tuna. Almonds, pecans, walnuts and olive oil all contain "good" fats that can help lower cholesterol.

      You also should consider incorporating foods rich in fiber, stanols and sterols into your diet. These three dietary substances all are believed to favorably impact your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and thereby lower your blood cholesterol.

    Exercise

    • Daily exercise should be part of your plan to lower your cholesterol levels. Thirty minutes of almost any physical activity should help; if you're out of shape, stick to less strenuous activities, such as biking, swimming and walking. As your fitness level increases, add new and different exercises into your regimen, increasing in intensity and skill. Always check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

    Weight Management

    • Most people will experience weight loss through changes to their diet and exercise programs, but some may need to do more. Try cutting your caloric intake by 200 to 300 calories each day, which should help shed excess pounds. However, to find the appropriate amount of calories to healthfully lose weight, speak with a dietician.

    Medication

    • If these changes fail to impact your cholesterol, talk to your doctor about prescription medications that can lower your levels. Statins and cholesterol-absorption inhibitors often are prescribed, but your doctor may put you on a fibrate or niacin to lower your cholesterol. Medications or supplements of this nature act on the liver or small intestines to remove cholesterol or triglycerides from the blood, reducing cholesterol levels.

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