Cholesterol may be lowered naturally by losing weight, exercising regularly and eating heart-healthy foods. Additionally, lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and only drinking alcohol in moderation, effectively reduce cholesterol levels, states Mayo Clinic.
A modest 5 to 10 percent reduction in body weight may dramatically reduce cholesterol levels. Exercising regularly contributes to weight loss, and experts suggest 30 minutes of exercise every day. Additionally, consuming foods that are high in soluble fiber helps the body decrease the absorption of cholesterol. Five to 10 grams of soluble fiber every day significantly reduce LDL cholesterol in the body, and 1.5 cups of cooked oatmeal contains 6 grams of soluble fiber, according to Mayo Clinic.
Fatty fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids and have also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. Mackerel, lake trout, salmon and albacore tuna are particularly rich in these omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, one handful of nuts per day may significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Conversely, avoiding foods such as red meat or dairy products that are high in saturated fat may effectively reduce cholesterol levels, reports Mayo Clinic.
Fiber has many different health benefits, including the reduction of cholesterol. Adding whole grains, fruit and vegetables to one's diet improves health in a number of ways. For lowering cholesterol, though, the addition of soluble fiber to one's diet is the most important. Apples, barley and oats contain a great deal of this type of fiber, and a minimum of 3 grams of soluble fiber per day is necessary to start reducing cholesterol. Other sources of soluble fiber include asparagus, peas, strawberries, citrus fruit, turnips and yams, notes Cooking Light.
Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation may also reduce cholesterol. Within just a year of quitting smoking, an individual's risk of heart disease is half that of a regular smoker, and limiting alcohol to one drink per day may prevent the onset of heart failure or stroke, says Mayo Clinic.