According to the CDC, 94 million Americans are living with high cholesterol. “There are ways to manage high cholesterol, and the wonderful news is that heart disease is 90% preventable,” says preventative cardiologist Leslie Cho, MD. “Even if you have a significant family history of high cholesterol, you can prevent heart disease.” Here are five ways to reverse bad cholesterol, fast. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Avoiding saturated and trans fats can help lower cholesterol. “You can lower your cholesterol by limiting the type of foods you eat,” says Dr. Cho. “This means becoming a food label reader. There should be no more than 2 grams of fat per serving, and it should account for less than 7% of your daily calorie intake. Trans fats have a very negative impact on the body. Not only do they worsen your cholesterol, but they also increase your markers of inflammation.” This can lead to inflamed blood vessels, a risk factor for heart attacks.”
Belly fat is strongly linked to high cholesterol. “Importantly, central obesity is a marker for increased inflammation within the body, which can result in cholesterol buildup in your blood vessels,” says Joshua Septimus, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine and medical director of Houston Methodist Primary Care Group Same Day Clinics. “It’s also a marker for unstable plaque. Remember, once plaque becomes unstable, the risk of stroke and heart attack increase.”
Losing weight can have a significant impact on cholesterol levels, doctors say. “If you lose even a small amount of weight, your HDL will go up and your LDL will come down,” says Dr. Cho. “Losing five to 10 pounds can lower your total cholesterol by 5% to 10%.”
Not smoking can positively impact cholesterol levels, doctors say. “Smoking causes inflammation and damage to your blood vessels, leading to unstable cholesterol plaque and, ultimately, increases your risk of plaque rupture,” says Dr. Septimus.
Regular exercise is key to lowering cholesterol and keeping it down. “Exercise is a great place to start if you’re trying to lower bad cholesterol,” says Dr. Cho. “But it doesn’t stop there. Combining exercise with healthier diet and lifestyle choices makes the most impact. Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if your high cholesterol is putting you at more immediate risk for heart disease or stroke,”