Individuals can lower their risk of developing hypercholesterolemia, or high cholesterol, by making or maintaining certain lifestyle choices, including quitting smoking, drinking alcohol sparingly, exercising daily for at least 30 minutes, attaining or maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a healthy diet. A healthy diet includes limiting salt and fat intake, minimizing saturated and trans fat consumption, eating fish, fruits and vegetables, opting for whole grains, and limiting dietary cholesterol, explains Mayo Clinic.
Cholesterol is a natural substance that the body needs to develop healthy cells. However, at elevated levels, certain types of cholesterol can create fatty build-ups in arteries, which may decrease blood flow to the heart and brain, causing a heart attack or stroke. There are three types of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein and very-low-density lipoprotein are considered bad cholesterol. These are the types that build up on arterial walls. High-density lipoprotein is good cholesterol, as it transports excess cholesterol back to the liver. Each of these cholesterol levels does have a genetic component, but healthy lifestyle factors can offset or negate this, according to Mayo Clinic.
Outside of lifestyle factors, medications may lower cholesterol levels. Medications include statins, which inhibit the liver's production of cholesterol, drugs that block the small intestine from absorbing cholesterol into the blood stream, and drugs that cause the liver to absorb more cholesterol. Additionally, certain foods and supplements may have cholesterol-lowering properties. These include artichokes, barley, beta-sitosterol, blond psyllium and garlic, notes Mayo Clinic.