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Cholesterol-Lowering Tricks That Really Work

Here's how to stay in check.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Your regular cholesterol test is one you really don't want to flunk. High LDL ("bad") cholesterol and low HDL ("good") cholesterol levels can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. If your cholesterol isn't where it should be, you can take easy steps to improve your numbers. Here are six tricks that can seriously lower your levels of bad cholesterol, according to experts. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Maintain a Healthy Weight

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Being overweight (having a BMI over 25) or obese (a BMI over 30) increases the amount of LDL ("bad") cholesterol in your blood. "Excess body fat affects how your body uses cholesterol and slows down your body's ability to remove LDL cholesterol from your blood," the CDC says. "The combination raises your risk of heart disease and stroke." Experts say losing just five to 10 pounds of body weight can reduce your LDL cholesterol level by 5% to 10%.

2

Exercise Regularly

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Exercise is an efficient and effective way to raise good cholesterol and lower triglycerides, experts say. Doctors recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. But even making small increases in your daily activity level—like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or choosing parking spots further from your destination—can make a real difference. 

3

Pursue a Plant-Based Diet

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Saturated fats, which are mostly found in red meat and full-fat dairy products, are a major driver of cholesterol. So a simple way to lower your cholesterol numbers is to switch to a plant-based diet—one that emphasizes vegetables and fruits and healthy sources of protein, such as plant-based proteins (like beans or legumes) or fish. It should include plenty of soluble fiber, which binds to cholesterol and eliminates it from the body. Experts recommend consuming at least 30 grams of fiber a day. 

4

Add a Whey Protein Supplement

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"Whey protein, which is found in dairy products, may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy," says the Mayo Clinic. "Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol as well as blood pressure.​​"

5

Avoid Tobacco

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Tobacco use increases bad cholesterol and triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), while lowering good cholesterol. The toxins in tobacco also damage the walls of blood vessels, which contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), further increasing your risk of heart disease. It doesn't take long to see real results: Within a year of quitting smoking, your risk of heart attack is half that of a smoker's.

6

Limit Alcohol Consumption

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Regularly drinking to excess can increase your triglycerides while increasing LDL ("bad") cholesterol and lowering HDL ("good") cholesterol. To help keep your cholesterol numbers in a healthy range, drink only in moderation, meaning no more than two drinks daily for men, or one drink daily for women.

And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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