Moderate intensity exercise and a high-fiber diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, beans and legumes improve cholesterol levels, according to WebMD. While lifestyle changes are key, some individuals require cholesterol-lowering medications called statins, such as Zocor and Crestor, explains Mayo Clinic.
Artichoke extract, barley, oat bran, blond psyllium and products used to fortify margarines, called beta-sitosterol and sitostanol, may reduce total cholesterol and LDL, the bad cholesterol, reports Mayo Clinic. Fish oil supplements, garlic extract and ground flaxseed may reduce triglycerides.
Exercise lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL, the good cholesterol, explains WebMD. HDL levels are raised the most by intense exertion, but the amount of time spent exercising is the determining factor in lowering HDL levels. Resistance training with weights or bands is also believed to reduce cholesterol.
Statins lower cholesterol by interfering with a substance the body requires to make cholesterol and by facilitating the reabsorption of the fat that has accumulated in the arteries, states Mayo Clinic. High cholesterol is one of several risk factors for heart attack and stroke; individuals with only high cholesterol may not require medications such as statins. Diabetes, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, obesity and a genetic predisposition to heart disease are additional risk factors for heart disease.