How This Helps

Everyone today is well aware of the risks associated with high levels of cholesterol. There are two types of cholesterol found in the body - high-density lipoprotein or HDL (good) cholesterol [1] and low-density lipoprotein or LDL (bad) cholesterol. There are many dangers associated with high levels of LDL cholesterol, including an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.[2,3] 

According to the U.S. CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), people who have high cholesterol levels are at two times the risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who have lower cholesterol levels.[4] 

How long does it take to reduce LDL Cholesterol?

How Much Time can it take to Reduce LDL Cholesterol?

Many people, when diagnosed with high cholesterol, wonder about how long does it take to lower cholesterol. The time it takes to reduce cholesterol levels depends on many factors, all of which differ from person to person. But how quickly can you reduce your cholesterol levels? Well, it usually depends on a few variables, including how high your LDL cholesterol levels are, to begin with.

Other factors that determine the overall time required to lower your cholesterol levels include:

• Your genetic disposition to quickly or slowly cholesterol levels comes down [5]

• Whether or not you engage in physical activity

• What treatment you are on 

• Your body weight [6]

• Other health conditions 

• Whether you are eating healthy 

According to the NCEP (National Cholesterol Education Program) created in 1985, it takes roughly three months, or sometimes even less, to significantly decrease your bad cholesterol levels, but this is only possible by taking care of your diet and lifestyle and following the recommendations of your doctor.[7]

See: Lowering Your Cholesterol with Diet Plan

Ways to reduce your cholesterol levels

Some tips you may find useful to lower your cholesterol quickly are with lifestyle changes:

1. Dietary Changes

Eating a heart-healthy diet will help reduce your cholesterol and also lower the risks of developing heart-related problems8. Here are some suggestions that you should incorporate in your diet to reduce cholesterol:

•        Cut out trans fats: Many studies have found a direct relationship between high consumption of trans fats and heart disease.[9] Trans fats can often be found listed as 'partially hydrogenated vegetable oil' and are found mostly in store-bought cakes, crackers, cookies, and in margarine. They are known to increase the overall levels of cholesterol. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has put in place a ban on the use of trans fats by January 1, 2021.[10]

•        Limit the intake of saturated fats: Saturated fats can be found in full-fat dairy products and red meat. They increase the levels of total cholesterol. Cutting down on the intake of saturated fats will lower the levels of LDL cholesterol. While saturated fats are not heart-friendly, you can still have them in small amounts now and then.11

•        Try the DASH Diet: DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.12 While the diet is designed for patients of high blood pressure, it is known to promote excellent results when it comes to cutting down on cholesterol levels. The DASH Diet typically includes:

o Low-fat or non-fat dairy products

o Limited salt intake

o Limited intake of red meats and processed foods

o Restricted intake of sugar

o Increased consumption of healthy fats such as vegetable oil, nuts, and seeds

o High intake of lean proteins such as poultry, soy, beans, and fish

o Plenty of whole grains

o Plenty of fruits and vegetables

The DASH diet is good for lowering your cholesterol since it places a lot of emphasis on increasing the intake of fiber and healthy fats. 

 

•        Try the Mediterranean Diet: A Mediterranean diet is rich in virgin olive oil, poultry, fish, and dairy products. Research has found that a Mediterranean diet helps lower LDL cholesterol, while also improving the function of HDL cholesterol, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.[13]

A Mediterranean diet includes:

o Fish and poultry as protein sources, with limited red meat consumption

o Plenty of whole grains

o Plenty of fruits and vegetables

o Restrict the intake of salt and substitute it with herbs and spices instead

o Lots of healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts 

o Skip out of unhealthy fats such as butter

 

2. Regular Exercise

While dietary modifications are the most crucial step towards lowering cholesterol levels, regular exercise is also essential. When you are wondering about how quickly can you reduce your cholesterol levels, then adding in some levels of physical activity every day will reduce the time taken to lower LDL cholesterol.[14]

Research has demonstrated that there is a close association between exercise and lower cholesterol. As exercise helps you lose weight, it decreases the amount of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. Being obese or overweight increases the levels of LDL cholesterol. Exercise boosts the enzymes in the body that help in transporting LDL away from the blood and into the liver. From the liver, the LDL cholesterol gets converted into bile, or it is excreted. [15]

While there is much debate on just how much exercise is needed to lower cholesterol, it is safe to say that around 30 minutes of physical activity per day of moderate to vigorous exercise should be sufficient. 

 

3. Lose Weight

Gaining even a couple of extra pounds increases the risk of high cholesterol. Added to this, if you have other risk factors, such as an unhealthy diet, then the risk of developing high cholesterol is greater. The problem of obesity is so high that even obese or overweight children are being diagnosed with high cholesterol.[16]

Take walks whenever you can. Opt for climbing the stairs rather than using the elevator whenever possible. Park further from your office so that you need to walk a bit to reach the entrance. Incorporating such small-small activities daily will help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol levels.

See: Ayurvedic treatment for High Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Summary

If you are concerned about how long does it take to lower cholesterol, then following the tips mentioned here can help reduce the time it takes. Sometimes, though, just following a healthy lifestyle is not enough to bring down the cholesterol levels. In these cases, your doctor will prescribe certain medications to lower your cholesterol. Statins are the most commonly prescribed cholesterol drugs. Your doctor will keep monitoring the levels of blood cholesterol every six weeks to check if the medicine is working or not.

See: DASH Diet Treatment for High Blood Pressure

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