Strawberries: The Cholesterol-Fighting Fruit
How to Lower Cholesterol Fast
The quickest way to lower your cholesterol is by combining lifestyle changes, dietary changes and, if your doctor says it is necessary, potentially also medications. There is no immediate solution, but if you have high cholesterol, lowering it is important. High cholesterol can increase your risk of blocked arteries and heart attacks.
Making Lifestyle Changes Right Away
Start exercising.Exercise improves how your body handles fat and cholesterol. But it is important that you start slowly and don’t do more than your body can handle. Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program to make sure that you will be able to handle it. Then increase the intensity slowly over time working up to between 30 minutes to an hour per day. Activities to try include:
- Joining a community sports team, like basketball, volleyball, or tennis
Improve your health immediately by stopping smoking.Quitting smoking can improve your cholesterol levels, decrease your blood pressure, and reduce your risk of developing heart disease, strokes, cancers, and lung disease. You may find it helpful to:
- Get social support from family, friends, local support groups, online forums, and hotlines.
- Consult your physician.
- Use nicotine replacement therapy
- Go to an addictions counselor. Many even specialize in helping people stop smoking.
- Consider residential treatment
Manage your weight.Keeping your weight under control will help you to keep your cholesterol down. If you are too heavy, losing just five percent of your weight can reduce your cholesterol. Your doctor may suggest you lose weight if:
- You are a woman with a waist circumference of 35 or more inches or a man with a waist circumference of 40 or more inches.
- You have a body mass index of 25 or higher.
Cut down on alcohol.Alcohol is high in calories and low in nutrients. This means that drinking a lot of it increases your risk of obesity. The Mayo Clinic recommends a limit of:
- One drink per day for women and one to two drinks per day for men.
- A 12 oz (355 mL) beer, 5 oz (148 mL) glass of wine, or a 1.5 oz (44.4 mL) shot of liquor qualifies as a drink.
Using Quick Dietary Changes
Reduce the amount of cholesterol you consume.Cholesterol is in the fats that are in your blood. Your body makes a certain amount of cholesterol, so if you cut down on the amount that you intake, this can be a great help. Too much cholesterol increases your risk of clogged arteries and heart disease. People with heart disease should eat no more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day. Even if you don’t have heart disease, it is best to restrict your cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams or less. You can do this by:
- Avoiding egg yolks. When you cook with eggs, try using egg substitutes instead of real eggs.
- Not eating organ meats. They are often high in cholesterol.
- Cutting down on red meat.
- Switching from full-fat dairy to skim and low-fat products. This would include milk products, yogurt, cream, and cheeses.
Avoid trans fats and saturated fats.These fats increase your cholesterol levels. While your body does need a small amount of fat, you can get that from monosaturated fats. You can lower the amounts of unhealthy fats you eat by:
- Cooking with monosaturated fats such as canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil instead of palm oil, lard, butter, or solid shortening.
- Eating lean meats such as poultry and fish.
- Limiting the amount of cream, hard cheese, sausage, and milk chocolate you consume.
- Scrutinize the ingredients on commercially prepared food. Even foods that are advertised as trans fat-free often have trans fats. Read the ingredients and look for partially hydrogenated oils. These are trans fats. Products that usually have trans fats include margarine and commercially prepared crackers, cakes, and cookies. Margarine also often contains trans fats.
Satisfy your hunger with fruits and vegetables.They have lots of vitamins and fiber, but very little fat and cholesterol. Eat 4-5 servings of fruit and 4-5 servings of vegetables daily. This translates to about 2 to 2.5 cups of both fruit and vegetables daily. You can add fruits and vegetables by:
- Taking the edge off your hunger, by starting your meals with salads. Eating the salad first will make you less hungry by the time you get to the richer, fattier foods like meats. This will help you control your portion sizes. Put diverse fruits and vegetables in your salads like greens, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, avocados, oranges, and apples.
- Eat fruit for dessert instead of fattier alternatives like cakes, pies, pastries, or candy. If you make a fruit salad, don’t add sugar. Instead enjoy the natural sweetness of the fruits. Popular options include mangos, oranges, apples, bananas, and pears.
- Bring fruits and vegetables with you to work or school to stave off hunger between meals. The night before, you can pack yourself a bag with peeled carrot sticks, washed peppers, apples and bananas.
Lower your cholesterol by switching to high fiber foods.Fiber can help you to control your cholesterol. Fiber is considered "nature's broom" and it significantly helps to lower cholesterol over time. It will also help you feel full so you will eat less high calorie, high cholesterol foods. Switching to eating whole-grains is an easy way to increase your fiber intake. Options include:
- Whole grain bread
- Brown rice instead of white
- Whole-wheat pasta
Discuss supplements with your doctor.Be skeptical of any product that makes unrealistic promises to immediately lower your cholesterol. Supplements are not regulated as strictly as medications. This means that they are less tested and the dosages may be inconsistent. However, it is important to understand that even though they may be natural, they can still interact with other medications, even over-the-counter medications. For this reason, it is important to talk to a doctor before starting any supplements, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or treating a child. Possible supplements to consider include:
- Oat bran
- Whey protein
- Blond psyllium
Avoid taking red yeast supplements.Some red yeast supplements contain lovastatin, which can be dangerous to consume if not carefully monitored by a medical professional. Instead of taking red yeast with lovastatin, it is safer to make an appointment with your doctor and get strictly regulated medications and the appropriate medical supervision.
Talk to your doctor about statins.These medications are very common for reducing cholesterol. They prevent the liver from making cholesterol, forcing your liver to then take it out of your blood. These medications may also help to reduce buildups in your arteries. Once you start taking them, you will may have to continue taking them for the rest of your life because your cholesterol will increase if you stop. Side effects include headaches, muscle discomfort, and digestive problems. Commonly used statins include:
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
- Fluvastatin (Lescol)
- Lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev)
- Pitavastatin (Livalo)
- Pravastatin (Pravachol)
- Rosuvastatin (Crestor)
- Simvastatin (Zocor)
Ask your doctor about bile-acid-binding resins.These medications bind to bile acids, causing your liver to pull cholesterol out of your blood in the process of making more bile acids. Commonly used bile-acid-binding resins include:
- Cholestyramine (Prevalite)
- Colesevelam (Welchol)
- Colestipol (Colestid)
Prevent your body from absorbing cholesterol with medications.These medications prevent your small intestine from absorbing the cholesterol from your diet during digestion.
- Ezetimibe (Zetia) may also be used in addition to statins. When used alone it usually doesn’t produce side effects.
- Ezetimibe-simvastatin (Vytorin) is a combination drug which both reduces the absorption of cholesterol and reduces your body’s ability to make cholesterol. Side effects include digestive problems and muscle pain.
Ask your doctor about newer drugs if more established ones don’t work.The Food and Drug Administration has approved medications that can be injected by the patient at home one to two times per month. These medications increase the amount of cholesterol the liver absorbs. They are often given to people who have had heart attacks or strokes and are at a high risk for having them occur again. These medications include:
- Alirocumab (Praluent)
- Evolocumab (Repatha)
QuestionMy recent cholesterol level is 218. Should I be worried about this reading? I read all of the instructions for how to lower it. It looks like I am doing all the right things, but it is still too high.Top AnswererThe normal range for Cholesterol is 0-199mg/dL, so you should be a bit concerned about it. Cut out processed food with a lot of cholesterol from your diet. Start exercising, such as taking walks outside, join a gym, buy a bike, or find a yoga studio. Incorporate monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats into your diet, such as nuts, fish, and nut butters.Thanks!
QuestionMy daughter is 13 and has a white, unpainful bump on the inner corner of her eye. What is it?Community AnswerYour daughter most likely has a pingueculum. If not treated soon, it will cover part of the cornea. It would be best to take your daughter to the doctor.Thanks!
My Dr. Wants to start me on the highest dosage of Lipotor, but I am scared to start on such a high dosage. Is this dangerous?
I would like to know my level of risk visiting some one who may have tuberculosis. I wear a double mask and gloves and use alcohol to clean hands.
I read cucumbers are good for lowering cholesterol. How much is best to consume for this and how often?
How to find a low cholesterol diet and how to detox body and start with a fresh diet and best exercises for high cholesterol ?
Will this work if the person is a child?
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you could be pregnant before starting any new medications.
- Give your doctor a complete list of all medications that you take, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, supplements, and herbal remedies. Your doctor will be able to advise you if any of them might interact with your medications.
Sources and Citations
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Video: Lowering Cholesterol - Mayo Clinic
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