How to Lower Your Cholesterol Levels

A woman preparing a healthy meal in the kitchen

Whether you’ve been told by a doctor that you have high cholesterol levels, or you simply want to lower your cholesterol to improve your overall health, you’ve come to the right place.

Some common cholesterol-related conditions include heart disease and a higher risk of stroke. By reducing your cholesterol levels through simple lifestyle adjustments, including healthier food choices, losing weight and exercising regularly, you can potentially help to reduce your risk of heart disease and other health conditions.

Read on to discover the causes of high cholesterol and our top six ways to help lower your cholesterol levels.

overweight woman cutting vegetables

Signs and Causes of High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in your blood. It is needed in small quantities to help build healthy cells, however too much cholesterol can block your blood vessels and cause health problems.

You may have high cholesterol if you follow an unhealthy lifestyle, are overweight and eat a lot of fatty foods, or don’t do enough exercise.

Unfortunately, there are no visible signs or symptoms of high cholesterol. You must go for a blood test to check your levels regularly, especially if you are overweight or if your family has a history of high cholesterol levels.

6 Ways to Lower Cholesterol Levels

Discover how you can lower your cholesterol levels by making healthier lifestyle choices below.

1) Lose Weight

Obesity may contribute to high levels of cholesterol. If you’re carrying some extra pounds, one of the best places to start in lowering your cholesterol levels is to lose weight.

There are many different approaches you can take to losing weight and it’s important to find what works best for you.

Helping to simplify your weight loss diet, you can consume up to two OPTIFAST meal replacement products per day from our range of low-calorie Bars, Meal Replacement Soups, Shakes and Desserts. Browse through a selection of our OPTIFAST products here:

2) Adopt a Healthy, Balanced Diet

Implementing a healthy, balanced diet is another great way to reduce your cholesterol levels. This means consuming fewer fatty foods, as well as cutting back on sugar and alcohol. Look out for saturated fat and trans fat on your food labels – you can read more about this in our next tip to help lower cholesterol levels!

Stay well hydrated and consider eating more heart-healthy foods, such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

3) Avoid Trans and Saturated Fats

Trans fat is an unhealthy cooking oil that is added to products to help increase their shelf life. It can be found in processed foods, like fast food, pastries, doughnuts, cakes and biscuits. Trans fat is also naturally present in some meat and dairy products, such as lamb, beef, butter and cheese.

Likewise, saturated fat is found in sweet and savoury foods, including fatty meats, butter, cheese, cakes and biscuits. It is best to avoid foods containing trans or saturated fat, as it contributes to increased levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol, also known as LDL. This type of cholesterol can build up in your arteries and can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Consider switching to a plant-based diet for a few days a week to help reduce your intake of trans and saturated fats and in turn, help lower your cholesterol levels.

4) Eat Plenty of Fibre

Consuming more foods that are high in fibre can help maintain and lower your cholesterol levels. Foods rich in soluble fibre, such as oats, barley, apples, kidney beans and other pulses are best, as they help to reduce the absorption of sugar and cholesterol.

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In the UK, the NHS recommends an adult consumes at least 30g of fibre per day, which can help us to feel fuller and reduce our cholesterol levels.

overweight man jogging outdoors

5) Get Active

Introduce daily exercise into your routine to get your heart pumping, which can help to increase your levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (or HDL). The aim is to get your heart beating faster than usual – exercises like brisk walks, swimming, yoga, cycling or running are ideal.

Moderate exercise can help contribute to your weight loss journey too. Discover the best exercises for weight loss in this article:

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6) Don’t Smoke

It’s no secret that smoking can lead to significant health problems, including heart disease and strokes – but did you know that it can also contribute to raising your cholesterol levels?

Smoking is known to lower the ‘good’ cholesterol in your blood – also known as HDL – while making the ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) ‘stickier’ and more likely to block vessels. There are plenty of free services across the UK to help you quit smoking.

If you work full-time or follow a busy schedule, it may be difficult to find time to implement these lifestyle changes to help lower your cholesterol. To help get you started, discover ways you can build movement into your working day here:

Health & Nutrition Expert

Health & Nutrition Expert

Writer and expert