In addition to prescription medication, many lifestyle changes can lower high cholesterol. Start with your diet, making wise choices and eating smaller portions at more frequent intervals. It may take three months for diet and exercise adjustments to lower high cholesterol.
By including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dried beans and peas in your diet, you can fight high cholesterol and heart disease. Foods that contain high to moderate amounts of dietary cholesterol include liver, eggs, meats, and regular dairy products, and should be eaten on a very limited basis. Skim and low-fat dairy products are acceptable.
Plant foods can lower high cholesterol. Soy products, avocados, almonds, and peanuts have cholesterol lowering benefits, as do garlic, onions, and chili peppers. When choosing foods that contain fat, stick to those that are high in monounsaturated fats, like olive or peanut oil. Eat few foods that contain saturated or trans-fats, like those often found in butter, salad dressings, and packaged desserts or snacks.
To fight high cholesterol, eat lean proteins, such as fish and poultry, more often than beef. When you choose beef, look for cuts that are "round", "lean", "select", or "choice", and avoid "prime." Choose lean ground beef and rinse it with water after cooking, but before adding it to a recipe. With pork, choose cuts identified as "loin" or "leg". If you avoid skipping meals, you will be less likely to binge on foods that might be unhealthy for those with high cholesterol.
Exercise and activity are also important in fighting high cholesterol. Among other positive benefits, exercise raises the HDL, or "good", cholesterol. Of course, you should always check with your doctor before participating in an exercise program.
Easy ways to incorporate activity into your daily routine include walking, house and yard work, and spending less time watching TV. At work, you can stand instead of sitting while talking on the phone, go to the gym at lunch, or take a break during the day to walk around inside your office or around your building. Active participation in sports or hobbies incorporates physical activity in your free time, as does playing games with the children or bicycling. This increase in activity might cause weight loss, which can also lower your cholesterol.
Although lifestyle changes can lower high cholesterol for many, some patients might need to take medication. Such patients include individuals who have inherited high cholesterol, those with a family history of coronary heart disease, and those who have had a previous heart attack or stroke. See your doctor to find out what is best in your particular case.