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What are ways to combat high cholesterol?

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Quick Answer

Ways to manage high cholesterol through lifestyle changes include losing weight, exercising, improving diet and quitting smoking, according to WebMD. A patient with a high risk of heart disease may need medication to reduce cholesterol. The changes often help reduce cholesterol levels in six weeks.

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Full Answer

Being overweight is a contributing factor in high cholesterol. Losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds often helps lower cholesterol, notes Mayo Clinic. Physical activity and a healthy diet work together to reduce weight.

A diet low in fat, particularly saturated fat, helps fight high cholesterol. Getting less than 7 percent of total daily calories from saturated fat is ideal, says the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Total fat should account for only 25 to 35 percent of calories, while cholesterol consumption should stay under 200 milligrams. A diet high in soluble fiber prevents cholesterol absorption in the digestive tract.

Physical activity helps lower the harmful low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, levels, explains WebMD. Exercise also raises the helpful high-density lipoproteins, or HDL. Regular exercise most days helps with cholesterol levels.

Quitting smoking increases the helpful HDL levels, according to Mayo Clinic. Other heart benefits that come with quitting smoking include lowered blood pressure and reduced risk of heart attack.

Having a cholesterol level goal helps track progress and continue with the healthy changes, notes WebMD. Doctors generally recommend an LDL target level of under 70 for those at high risk, under 130 for moderate-risk patients, and under 160 for low-risk patients.

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