If your cholesterol is high, your doctor will recommend a number of things to help lower it and reduce your chance of developing heart disease. Lifestyle changes will be the primary focus, and if necessary, prescription medication might be prescribed. Natural remedies also can contribute to lowering cholesterol levels. But no matter what method you use, you can't lower your cholesterol overnight. It probably will take at least three months of following a healthy diet and exercise routine to see cholesterol levels fall within a healthy range.
Limit the amount of cholesterol you receive from your diet. All animal proteins contain cholesterol, so limit your consumption of meats, dairy and eggs. Sources of lean protein include chicken breast and fish. However, even the leanest cuts of beef are high in cholesterol, so it’s best to significantly reduce or eliminate your consumption of beef. Replacing animal protein with high-quality vegetable proteins such as tofu, beans and legumes also will help lower your cholesterol.
Increase your intake of soluble fiber. Excellent sources of soluble fiber include oatmeal, carrots, beets, onions, sweet potatoes, beans, peas, soybeans, barley and rye. A great way to add these heart healthy foods to your diet is to add one to each meal. Try some plain oatmeal for breakfast topped with some fresh fruit. Eat a sweet potato with your lunch, and have a cup of beans with your dinner.
Engage in moderate exercise. Moderate exercise in combination with a healthy diet will help to lower your cholesterol levels. Your doctor will recommend a routine that is right for you after factoring in any heart-related risks. Never start a new exercise routine before consulting your doctor; especially if you have high cholesterol levels, which can put your heart health in danger.
Quit smoking. Smoking affects cholesterol levels in two ways. It lowers levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and increases levels of LDL or bad cholesterol. This effect can be reversed when a person quits.
Add artichoke leaf extract to your diet. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of nearly 150 adults with a total cholesterol over 280 was performed by German researchers in 2000. The study showed that participants who took an artichoke leaf extract supplement for a period of six weeks saw a 23 percent drop in their levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, in comparison to a 6 percent in the placebo group.
Keep your liver healthy to help metabolize cholesterol. Consuming liver tonics is a great way to maintain liver health and support healthy cholesterol levels. Water with lemon and bitter leafy greens such as turnips and dandelions have a tonic effect that helps the liver function at optimal levels. Also, minimize your consumption of alcohol.